Fomer World Bank Vice President, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, and other speakers yesterday called for an end to inept leadership in Africa.They made the disclosure during the Fifth Anniversary Lecture of Realnews Magazine held at the Sheraton Hotels, Ikeja.
At the lecture, entitled: ‘The African Leadership in a Turbulent Era,” Ezekwesili said it was time to disrupt dismal governance and stop accepting as normal a situation that had brought Nigeria and the continent to their current pitiable state.
Regretting that Africa had wallowed in underdevelopment, she said it would take many years of remarkable growth to lift millions of its impoverished citizens out of poverty.
“We must disrupt the foregoing governance and demand to know how we are governed,” she said, noting that mediocrity rather than merit had unfortunately become the rule.
The former Nigerian education minister pointed out that African economies could not be magnets for investment and grow beyond the fringe, if corruption and misuse of public funds continued. This situation, she said, had enthroned a perverted reward system, fostered new corrupt practices and turned society into a highway of failure.
She said: “There is no substitute to good governance and leadership. They are delivered by individuals who would accept transparency and accountability and build institutions.”
She decried how economic policies that lifted countries like Singapore and China out of poverty had failed in Africa.“In building leadership, you need leadership; those who take charge to sustain process until it turns to a practice. We must produce people who head these institutions.
“We need such men to lead our judiciary, customs, immigrations, audit offices, accountant-general’s office, public accounts committees and such other agencies of government. It is then we would begin to lay a foundation for the society,” added Ezekwesili.
The Director-General of the West African Institute for Financial and Economic Management, Prof. Akpan Ekpo, noted that the African Union (AU) needed to do more in the face of nationalism and nuclear threat across the globe.
He said the leadership in Africa lacked economic independence and was busy developing underdevelopment, even as it continued to misapply resources, failing to improve on export offerings.
The Managing Director of the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), Ahmed Kuru, admitted that there were leadership issues in the country, even though “we pretend a lot.”He said Nigeria did not lack good and intelligent people, but noted that there was a challenge of conspiracy and ethnic considerations.
He also said Nigerians did not ask questions and demand answers even on fundamental issues.According to the AMCON chief, a more disturbing fact about the level of corruption in the country was the impunity associated with it.
He said pretence and poor leadership had brought challenges to the nation’s banking sector, stressing that the current huge debt overhang was mainly a product of wrong bookings sanctioned by top officers.