AFRICA AND THE SHITHOLE TAG
Africa, the continent with over millions of people second only to Asia in the world population ranking has been performing below standard to the projections made by its founding fathers. This has consequently resulted in the bagging of different infamous tags, one of which include the current US President calling it “A Shithole”;a very unpleasant and unlivable place.
This continent is blessed with a lot of brilliant people, who have the ability to make the continent great only for it to be scupper by the power-lust leaders who prefer to keep calling the shots in the political space for as long as they wish. The American President, Donald Trump is right about calling Africa a shithole. If our leaders fail to do the right thing, we shall always be on the receiving end of all these bad tags.
All black nations need to make sure that good leadership is available to all its citizens. When there are good leaders, there would be a great continent. Political parties should work towards ensuring that their manifestoes are highly implemented. Majority of the people should be politically educated to prevent selling their mandate to wrong parties/candidates. Mass political education should be available in all African countries. Government agencies on information and electoral commissions in the continent should carry out routine enlightenment of the public. When the people are thoroughly enlightened, they won’t go for the wrong candidate during elections.
The level of education in all African countries should be improved upon especially in the Sub-Saharan African countries. People should be informed of the importance of education to themselves and it is the high time people are stopped from being blinded by some wrong religious beliefs. Lack of education has caused these African men and women to go into terrorism as they are quickly brainwashed by their fellow uneducated and hyper-religious fellows into joining extremism. They are usually deceived that when they die, they have automatically gained access to heaven, which is an ultimate achievement to all religious believers in the world.
The government of these countries should ensure that the policies they are formulating provides benefits to its people and can last longer. Policies that attend to the plight of the poor masses should be speedily formulated and implemented. Continuation of good policies/programmes initiated by the previous government should be carried out by any serious government. Not being in the same political party with the owner of a policy or programme should not mean that the good policies/programmes of the previous government should be discarded or abandoned. When there is always a constant change of policies, there won’t be any meaningful development for the country. Policies should be seventy percent implemented. In the developed countries, good policies inherited by the incoming government are not usually discarded, they are followed up and they ensure they serve its purpose for the people.
African politicians should ensure that the national interest is always above their personal political interest. An election should not be a do-or-die affair. People should be allowed to choose who they want in public offices and who they think would serve their interest. The spirit of sportsmanship is not only needed by sportsmen but also needed by the black politicians. When you lose accept it in faith and when it is also the otherwise accept it also in faith. African leaders should emulate the former President of Nigeria (Goodluck Ebele Jonathan) who congratulated the incoming president, President Muhammadu Buhari after losing out to the latter in the 2015 General Elections. Every well-meaning person/people should be called to partner with the government for the betterment of the country regardless of the party he/she comes from. When we perform well for the people, it will be easier for us to be able to seek a second tenure in office which will help erase the need for electoral malpractices or violence. Good government doesn’t need to campaign for its re-election, good works do that.
One of the major problems affecting African countries is bribery and corruption. The rate of corruption in Africa is at an alarming rate and need to be checked. Politics should not be seen as the fastest way to garner millions of money illegally. “Politics is a call to service and not a call for looting”. African politicians should ensure that the money they spent on campaigns is not too much. As when they enter the government, they would want a way to get all their money back usually double or more than the actual amount they spend on their campaigns. This pushes them into looting the treasury of their respective political offices. The electoral bodies should make sure that there is always a financial limit for all electoral campaigns and it should be strictly enforced. Majority of these politicians usually have godfathers who demand money from them to get to political offices and when they eventually get to their aspiring positions, they are asked for their share of the national cake by these godfathers. African political parties also encourage politicians to be financially reckless and corrupt as they demand huge sums of money from the public office holders in their party to run their political groupings. They (politicians) have no choice than to satisfy their political alma mater.
All African countries should ensure that the social amenities needed by the people are provided and the ones available are improved upon. All the citizens are entitled to the dividends of democracy. When there are social amenities available to the people particularly the artisans and the self-employed, there would be a reduction in the level of unemployment in the country. Artisans are key to any economy as they help complement the work of the professional workers. When there is no enabling environment for even the trained professionals we will begin to lose them in form of brain drain to other countries who know the value of intellectual men and women to their development. We are therefore left with the not-too-good ones who will contribute less to the development of the continent. Africa has been known has the continent with the highest number of unemployed people, highest mortality and crime rate. By providing infrastructural facilities to the people, we will provide an environment for the artisans and craftsmen to ply their trade to the best of their knowledge with little or no complaints. Shithole is not our name; greatness, excellence is our befitting nickname. The Future of Africa is in our hands.
Unemployment is one of the problems facing African countries. The young Africans who have spent a lot of years in the tertiary institutions end up getting unemployed or underemployed. This has led to increasing crime rate in the continent as they say an idle man is a devil’s workshop. They resort to stealing, kidnapping etc. just to fend for themselves and their family. Unemployment needs to be reduced so as not to lose gifted and hardworking youths to crimes. Vocational and entrepreneurial skills need to be given to our youths so as to enable them to be self-independent and employed. African youths need to be their own boss and be ready to be an employer of labour. When there are vocational skills for our people from the primary school to the tertiary institution level, we would have a generation of self-employed youths who will be less bothered about getting paid employment and this will reduce the crime rate in the geographical area. We would be gradually withdrawing from the shithole tag. Vocational and entrepreneurial courses (subjects) need to be added in the curriculum of all secondary schools and improved upon in the technical colleges all over the continents. There should more focus on the educational sector especially the technical colleges and polytechnic has they have more practical skills to give to help the people in their daily activities. Statistics showing the number of employed and unemployed youths in a country should be published either quarterly, monthly or on a yearly basis to provide the government with the database to improve the employment rate and reduce the unemployment rate. Figures emanating from statistical work should be accurate and free from manipulation for the benefit of a particular tribe, religion, politicians etc. Statistics about the level of unemployment would help the government to look for more ways to provide jobs for its teeming population. Programmes like the N-Power in Nigeria should be sustained and if possible made permanent to provide stable employment for our youths. Corporate organizations should also help in reducing unemployment in the continent through their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Entrepreneurship programmes and reality shows that would help people with brilliant business ideas and the infant industries with funds for their development as a big company and consequently provide employment to another set of unemployed people should be created.
There should be more cooperation among the regional groupings in Africa. Regional groupings like the African Union (AU), ECOWAS should be more united in solving the common problems affecting their member states. The level of cooperation should be increased in the educational, security, labour sectors etc. The feeling of dominance by another country over others should be avoided as this can cause the non-unison of the organization in making decisions that will benefit the member states. There should be sharing of ideas among member states. Formulation and implementation of policies that would help to solve the common problems of the territory should be at the front burner of discussion of these groupings. There should be sharing of academic staffs for the better academic performance of their institutions or students. Money contributed in these groups should be available for the tertiary institutions in the territory used for research purpose which will help demonstrate Africa as a research-driven continent. Trade between the regions should be export-oriented and materials for production should be sourced locally. This will boost the GDP of the continent. Science and technology are one of the areas Africa has been lagging behind. Providing research facilities and formulating and implementing policies to help the sector is very crucial. Joint research work by the member states should be encouraged. When we are very good in science and technology, we will reduce our importation of scientific and technological instruments and improve the gross domestic product of the continent economy. A continent good in science and technology is usually respected in the world.
The legacies left by African founding fathers and heroes should be followed. Past heroes like Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo of Nigeria and the Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana should be envied and emulated in their style of leadership and integrity. Madiba fought for the independence of South Africa, spending a gigantic twenty-seven years in prison only for its beloved country. Obafemi ‘Awo’ Awolowo provided free education to his people (the South-Westerners) which is the bedrock for the development of any people. Present African leaders should have the spirit of nationalism these people possessed. They should always put Africa first in all their daily political activities. Current political leaders in Africa should begin to see its followers as equal and not consider a particular set of people, tribe or religion over others. When everyone is seen equal, political appointments by the government will ensure that all ethnic groupings, religion etc. are well represented in government and all states or geopolitical zones are provided with social amenities which will benefit its people and safeguard their future. No tribe, person(s) should be above the law.
The level of dependence of African countries on the European and other foreign countries should be reduced. We should begin to rely on one another through the organizations like the A U, ECOWAS etc. When we always go to these people for help we will be seen as a less-important continent and treated badly and we will be forced into doing things that do not serve our interest but their collective selfish interest which may look like help. Looking inwards by providing facilities and finances needed to run their government by them should be employed. New methods of generating money with lesser effects on the poor or impecunious masses should be used by all the people who call the shot in the continent economic and financial sector. The strong colonial ties between countries that have been colonized by the British and the French should be cut-off or reduced to the barest minimum should they wish to control the economy of their nations by themselves to the best of satisfaction of their citizens. When there still exist strong colonial ties between the colonial masters and their respective colonies there would be slow pace of development in these countries. When there exists colonial ties between some African countries and their colonial masters, it would be difficult for African regional organizations these countries claim membership to, to always agree on decisions pertaining issues affecting the region. They would always be extra careful to avoid participating in discussions and decisions that would affect their ex-colonial masters. This is further boosted by the meager donations and the little form of security offered to these countries during war or civil unrest. The fear of being less supportive to them and working against their aim and goals coupled with the resulting consequences would help steer their loyalty the more to their former rulers. They are hoodwinked into believing that without the necessary backing from their former masters either monetary, security, etc. they would not be able to make any meaningful contribution to the development of their people. This should not be so, we have served the Whites for long years of “mixed fortunes” and we should shrug ourselves off them and begin to do things in our way and rule the world with our common intellect. Africans need to work for Africans and not Africans working for foreigners that usually happen through brain drain and the over-dependence of our leaders on these countries. Many of these countries use African countries to show that they are also world power and have some influences in the governance process of some less developed nations. They would always want their say to be reflected in these countries decisions and policies.
Patriotism and nationalism should be a quality that people of all black nations should have. The people of Africa need to start looking for ways to better the continent in all areas. Nothing should be seen as little for your country. We should always believe that Africa can do great things. The belief that Africa can still be better than before should be in the mindset of all African men and women and they should also carry it out through their participation in the governance process of their respective countries with their participation in voting exercise, criticizing the government positively in their activities whenever they detect any wrong decision or actions carried out by their leaders, obeying the laws of the land etc. The saying “God save Africa” as a continent should never cease from the mouth of all black men as when we begin to say these we will be motivated not to see the continent we are praying for lags behind in terms of growth and development. When we begin to profess good words to our motherland, we would eventually see the turnaround we have been craving for. In doing so, we have been able to shun ethnicity, nepotism, tribalism etc. and see ourselves as one in the provision of collective solutions to our common problems. The majority people in a country should be united in bringing in a government with a leader that would carry out their aims for their society, country and continent at large and see the continent first in their day to day political activities. We should always ask ourselves for what we can do for Africa and not what we want Africa from Africa. The attitude of patriotism and nationalism should be instilled and taught to all students of civic education which is a compulsory subject in Nigeria and should be emulated by all African nations. This will help the students to nurture and develop the spirit of nationalism right from when they are in school to where they would be able to apply it in real life situations. “Fearlessness in the struggle for one’s country is the fearlessness in the struggle for one’s survival and existence”. This should guide us in our day to day activities.
Proper management of the economy is also one of the key areas all black countries have to give utmost priority to. Appointments by the government into all ministries, agencies or parastatals should be made based on merit and should not be based on ethnic or religious affiliations. The good hands and those ready to work should be appointed into political positions in the government. The economic team of any government must be made up of individuals who have good knowledge about the economy. Situations, where a lawyer is appointed into the ministry of power, should be avoided. When this happens, the concerned ministry will perform minimally and below the projected standards. Activities affecting the economy like smuggling of goods, importing of materials which can be made locally that leads to the fall in the exchange rate of the local currency should be prevented. Campaigns orientating people on the evils of those practices should be staged in all African countries with the agencies concerned about that fully participating in that. Essay competitions on those “Unafrican” and bad practices should be created and sustained through the availability of scholarships or monetary reward to winners of those competitions by the different agencies and ministries and should be based on how to improve the economy of their countries. Inter-ministerial relationships should be present and sustained among all ministries. No ministry or agency can work on its own without one or more ministry or agency it would relate with. The Budget should be prepared by the Ministry of Budget with a proper account for all ministries expenditures, the current price and benchmark price for the country major source of revenue for the next financial year with speedy transfer to the lawmaking organ of government for proper check and speedy passage for early usage. Funds to finance the budget should be available on time for maximum and quick implementation of projects in the budget. Money can also be generated through PPP (Private Public Partnership) for the projects present in the budget. The government should ensure that foreign exchange is available to all financial institutions at an affordable rate and the financial institutions should also comply with the laid down financial regulations of the apex bank and they should be penalized whenever they run afoul of it. The government should formulate long-term economic plans that will help the masses and sustain the growth rate of the different sectors of the economy.
The judiciary and the constitution of a country should be set up in a manner where manipulation and corruption would be far away from it. Judges in the continent should be well-enlightened on the evils of partaking in bribery and corruption with the stiffer punishment open to any defaulting judge. Judges should be appointed with a good level of screening to ascertain whether there is any standing case of corruption facing the judge or have faced in the past. Cases involving corruption and other crimes should be speedily prosecuted with more victories for the government as this would boost the fight against corruption. Mobile courts should be set up all over the continent for the speedy prosecution of crimes occurring on the road. Constitutions should be amended regularly to check and remove acts and bills that are not in accordance with present-day democracy and criminal administration law. The constitution should not categorize a particular ilk, tribe, religion etc. has superior to others. Supremacy and equality of the law should be stressed in the constitution. The law schools which usually churn out millions of legal practitioners yearly should charge their students on the need to do more research work on ways to better the justice system of their respective countries and not just reading criminal cases and quoting sections of the constitutions. Joint research work between law students of different African countries and exchange of the successes made on different legal ideas between countries in the continent should be carried out in all the countries. Transfer of newly graduated lawyers to other African countries to garner experience on their judicial system which can be carried out through diplomatic relations between the countries in the continent as a one-year internship can be applied by the government.
I believe when Africa begin to do all these, Africa will totally lose the Shithole tag and dominate the world in all areas. Africa, this is the time to re-write your story.