Former President of Nigeria Olusegun Obasanjo has ascribed Africa’s rising poverty and underdevelopment to poor leadership, bad governance, and massive corruption by high-powered people in government.
The leadership letdowns, he said, had occasioned the rising crass economic mismanagement of economies, diversity frictions, and political segregation, leading to a loss of confidence in state institutions’ ability to provide public services.
“It is unfortunate that in some countries where the gatekeeper is the thief, the countries could only be made safe and secured by God.
“…and that is the situation we find ourselves in some countries if not all countries in Africa. Your dream of security is dashed when your gatekeeper is the one who is the chief thief,” the former President stated.
The former President, who is also an African Youth and Governance Convergence (AYGC) Eminent Fellow, was speaking at the opening of the 25th Session of AYGC at Mankessim on Monday.
Attending the seven-day event are 65 delegates from 27 African countries and the USA and Canada.
It was arranged by the Youth Bridge Foundation on the theme: “Advancing youth inclusive governance, peace, and security: The digital innovation factor.”
The forum seeks to harness the potential of the youth to become responsible and participating citizens for sustainable development.
It also aims to equitably harness the potentials of the youth by equipping them with appropriate capacity and platforms and advocating for inclusion and responsiveness to youth development needs and rights.
Former President Obasanjo said economic and political inclusion, particularly of women, youth, minorities and other marginalised groups, remained a major challenge though some African economies have seen sustained growth over the past few decades.
Such economic growth trajectories, he said, had not benefited most people in many countries and had widened the gap between the rich and poor as corrupt officials display opulence with impunity.
“We are in bad shape because leaders and governance in African countries, particularly the sub-region, have not been what they should be.
“We may go as far back and blame our colonial power, slave trade, but those who brought those things upon us knew what they were doing,” he said and adding that it was for their economic interest but at our expense.
The former President of Nigeria told African leaders to take responsibility for poverty and under-development rather than blaming colonialism.
They should stop “making excuses” for ongoing economic problems in their countries, and to look for solutions within rather than blaming the past.
For more than 60 years, he said Africa overcame colonialism as well as slavery more than 150 years ago, so what then is the excuse to continually blame the slave trade for the Continent’s predicaments?
He alluded to what he described as the ”unfortunate state of affairs in Nigeria”, saying it had no all-embracing peace, no security, and was dominated by Boko Haram, insurgents, bandits, kidnappers, armed robbers, and organized criminals, human trafficking, arms trafficking, drug traffickers and money laundering.
In some cases, he indicated the powers that be, particularly some people in government at the highest level, were indirect participants, and encouragers and provided a haven for miscreants’ activities to fester.
Mr Julio de Mederios is with the Board of Foundation, a continental-oriented NGO committed to youth Inclusive and responsive development agenda.