African leaders can do better

via African leaders can do better – DailyNews Live by James Maridadi  11 MAY 2014

The following five key events describe Nigeria in the past three weeks.

About 230 girls are abducted from a school in the northern parts of the country. A few days later President Goodluck Jonathan is shown on television dancing at a party having a good time.

This week, the world, by way of the World Economic Forum Wef, converges on Africa’s number one economy in the capital Abuja for their annual economic pilgrimage. Boko Haram releases a video claiming responsibility for the horrendous act and is threatening to sell the girls as sex slaves.

The world is stunned. President Jonathan issues a statement on the kidnapped girls for the first time in three weeks.

What a mixture of misfortunes, fortunes, happiness and sadness as William Shakespeare would say of one smiling and one droopy eye.

News channels, CNN in particular have taken a keen interest in both the WEF gathering and the kidnapped girls and have dispatched Star News caster Aisha Sesay to cover more of the latter than the former.

The narrative taking shape in light of the unfolding events in Nigeria is that, it is an exhibition of misplaced priorities and a demonstration of gross ineptitude both at their worst by the Nigerian government in general and by  president Jonathan in particular.

Grief-stricken families wait anxiously for answers as it appears that the federal government has no clue on how to go about getting the girls released by their captors.

Again, it has taken the president three weeks to make a statement on the unfortunate incident. People need information and yet the authorities are not forthcoming.

Naturally, parallels are now being drawn between president Jonathan’s leadership and that of his peers, the likes of Tony Abbott of Australia, David Cameron of Britain, Angela Merkel of German, Barack Obama of the United States and Jacob Zuma of South Africa.

Would any one of them have taken a massive three weeks to make a statement had that unfortunate incident happened in their respective countries?

The answer is that, it is very likely they would have issued a statement a lot sooner than three weeks and most probably within hours and government information machinery would have gone into overdrive giving details day in day out of efforts to recover the girls.

An information centre with hotlines would have been set up and direct links with the affected families would have long been established.

In Nigeria, president Jonathan’s case was not helped by first lady Patience Jonathan appearing on television all hysterical “up sound face to cam” in ostentatious apparels and jewellery.

Her demeanour was overbearing and atrocious for the occasion especially three weeks later.

The precincts of a State House and an opulent lounge were bad choices for Patience Jonathan’s media show piece. It was terribly out of sync with the general mood of Nigerians especially women.

If Aisha came all the way from New York to interview girls in the affected regions, quite honestly, someone at State House should have been kind enough to advise Patience Jonathan to join the grief-stricken mothers who remain gathered at some place and issue a decent motherly heartfelt statement which resonates with the mood of the moment.

Closer to home, President Robert Mugabe has not visited Chingwizi Camp where more than

18 000 people are living in a makeshift camp following a flooding disaster more than three months ago.

Two weeks ago though, the president attended some Papal ceremony at the Vatican.

It is entirely one’s prerogative who he visits and who he does not visit depending on who he deifies and who he deigns.

Nonetheless, I still maintain that visiting the Vatican 7 000km away ahead of Chingwizi some 300km to the south of State House is a case of misplaced priorities for a Head of State and it surely leaves a bitter taste in the mouth.

He is our father and in times of hardship we expect him to come and see us and say a few reassuring words, empty as they may be.

The entire Cabinet, national assembly and corporate world can visit Chingwizi but the degree of comfort and satisfaction that the flood victims were derive from a visit by the Head of State would outweigh all.

Having been in power for 34 long years, president Mugabe understands this only too well.

Back to Nigeria, the country has just overtaken South Africa as the continent’s biggest economy at $510 billion GDP representing 21 percent Africa’s same.

However, and sadly so, the African script remains unchanged.

There is not much to celebrate about the growth of the Nigerian economy when 62 percent of the population is living below the poverty datum line and worse still a quarter of them need food aid.

Wealth, mostly from the country’s oil, is far from being evenly distributed.

Just a few elite, mostly those with viable links to the centres of reigning political power and authority, ever get to enjoy the country’s wealth derived from its natural resources.

Nigeria has the highest number per capita of individuals who own private jets, mostly Gulfstream or Falcons, Rolls Royce or Pratt Whitney-powered long range models.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

The problem is that, just across the street, there is a university bona fide MBA graduate sleeping on the pavement with no idea where his next meal will come from and there are millions of them in a similar situation.

While such disparities will always exist in normal societies even in mature economies and democracies like German, it is the absence of legislation and policies that look out for the interests of the afflicted, underprivileged and powerless that is worrying.

In Africa, the general trend is that the politically connected, who are usually the rich, are left to enjoy unfettered access wealth while the poor are often abandoned.

It should be government’s priority to guard against exploitation of the poor and downtrodden and enact deliberate policies that provide for social safety nets which ensure that in a country as wealthy as Nigeria, no one goes without access to life’s basics like clean drinking water, at least a meal a day and a place to sleep in at night.

These are fundamental human rights ordinarily enshrined in any meaningful 21st century constitution.

Meanwhile, minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala speaks eloquently on CNN convincing us that the WEF will help deal with, inter alia, how Nigeria should handle economic disparities and issues of social security. What a damper from an international economist and world renowned finance manager.

An average high school boy or girl will tell you that economic benefits to Nigeria following hosting of WEF are zilch — nill. The reason Professor Schwab chose Nigeria is clear. The country has capacity to pay. If WEF is about bringing investment and economic stability to Africa, then Nigeria and South Africa (where it is always held in Cape Town) whose economies are on the rise even by developed world standards, are the wrong venues.

Why not have it in Zimbabwe whose GDP is a paltry $4 billion and is struggling to feed itself and why not Ethiopia.

I guarantee that when Zimbabwe starts to know what to do with its overstated natural resources like diamonds, and when the country’s number one enemy corruption has been dealt with and the economy starts ticking, then WEF will come.

When we are able to sell our diamonds without the help of middlemen who disappear with the proceeds, then WEF will consider coming.

Some things are truly laughable.

In this day and age a whole country is conned of proceeds from its natural resources.

Demnable be thy description.

Given the above from Nigeria and Zimbabwe, I put it across that Africa deserves and demands better leadership.

I rest it for now.



  • comment-avatar
    Chaka 9 years ago

    True, for centuries colonised by the West, and now starting to be colonised by the East. God give us African leaders who will fight against colonisation, who will notice that the very reason why west n east r keen to colonise Africa is that we have wealth.’A fool with with his money soon part.

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    Gomogranny 9 years ago

    The fixation with colonialism and with wealth…all part of the same problem. True leaders such as Mandela and Khama were/are motivated to improve the lives of their people and protect their heritage (both natural and cultural) for future generations. Those two were/are motivated to help others – not themselves.

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    I have a yellow ribbon tied to my balcony in solidarity with the young girls abducted in Nigeria.You Zimbabweans are a spineless bunch of baboons ,insult to baboons,deserve what you have.Starvation and death because you are a bunch of bloody cowards and should be ashamed.God bless your children,only he will help them not you.

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    John Thomas 9 years ago

    I beg to differ. Africa’s leaders do not do better because they cannot. None of the liberators or their successors are in politics to lift the lives of others. They are there to serve their own ambition. The potential Mandelas and Khamas are trampled under foot in the feeding frenzy and do not attract support because they do not make populist promises which they never intend to keep.

    Here in Zimbabwe we hear that the opposition figure with real support is Tsvangirai. He has already proven himself over and over again foolish and corrupt, yet this is who Zimbabweans want to take over from the current corrupt government.

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    nyoni 9 years ago

    The history of Africas demise is tragic as we all know. The sale of its subjects by chiefs for monetary gain and the giving of land to the imperialists and now this trend continues today. The sale of our heritage to others again. Our leaders are all responsible for the demise of Africa. FINISH AND KLAR.

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    mike paterson 9 years ago

    Lindy Lou should not use a very intelligent animal as a means of being derogatory. Could Lindy Lou sleep in a tree? Maybe but I doubt it.
    Use any other way of being derogatory other than using animals – they do not deserve it!

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    Our own President had not to date visited Tokwe- Mukosi but has been happy to fly abroad to walk on the cobbled streets of the Vatican and deal diamonds with Arabs and fly past Tsholotsho to the Trade Fair.His daughter has since married and honeymooned but he STILL CAN’T FIND TIME FOR TWO CRITICAL DISASTERS IN HIS COUNTRY.
    But he will proclaim how he faught to free people from White domination,subjugation and injustice. He is still to put Zimbabweans first.

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    Mseyamwa 9 years ago

    Failure to see beyond one’s nose is engrained in most people. The solutions to correcting the Zim situation cones from Zimbabweans registering their displeasure in an unmistaken way, like they are doing elsewhere on the globe – Venezuela, Thailand, Arab Spring, Ukraine, etc. But there are too many people who think such action should be taken by some lower louts and in someone’s backward where they cannot see it happening and have it disturb their false safe, comfy and organized life whose value keeps being drained daily.

    Next thing is a lout shall indeed come dislodge Mugabe and more of the same shall continue because the good people were never heard speaking. What they want is not known and the ones that eventually act may not even know how to be anything else except being themselves- good or bad.

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      Gomogranny 9 years ago

      This is the sad truth Mseyamwa. And anybody who does speak up (Like Simba Makoni) gets labelled a turncoat or a snake. It’s horrible.

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    Leaders of Africa are in it for them selves. The people of Africa are in no way the innocents, they accept their fate and do not have the gumption to correct it. Goodluck Jonathan has done nothing till now is no real surprise. Nigerians and now the world is up in arms as these girls are to be sold as slaves. The poor countries surrounding Nigeria have been selling their young to Nigerians for decades – Nigerians buy them but now cry when their own are stolen and sold? Maybe Nigerians should look to stamp out the active slave trade they are part of. Mugabe cares nothing for Zimbabweans, this he has shown from the 70’s. That Zimbabweans are stupid enough to continue to support him as a damning testimony of the so called best educated country in Africa.

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      Saddened 9 years ago

      Jrr I agree with you regarding our complicity as ordinary people in our subjugation & exploitation by our own governments. Take the recent re-election of the ANC in South Africa despite their poor performance & huge levels of corruption. The ignorance of the average person is staggering as many of them here have said even though they are disgruntled with the ANC, they will not vote for the DA because they will reintroduce ‘apartheid’, so will rather not vote.

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    where is the ALL USELESS CLUB (AU) and ECOWAS they seem to be very silent on this issue occurring in Nigeria USELESS USELESS