Former President Olusegun Obasanjo on Wednesday identified good leadership, governance and development as the elements for economic progress in Nigeria and Africa.
Mr. Obasanjo said this at the 15th Centre for Values in Leadership (CVL) Annual Lecture and International Leadership Symposium in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the theme of the symposium was entitled: ‘Leadership and Performance in Africa – The Challenge of the Continent’s Economic Competitiveness.’
Mr. Obasanjo said the economic challenges facing the country were as a result of lack of continuity in government policies among other reasons.
“Our leaders must prioritise adequate infrastructure as the basis for our development. “We must embrace new technologies to tackle security challenges in the country, build strong institutions to uphold our core values.
“In Nigeria, there is the need to acknowledge and appreciate our diversity and not make it a liability. “We are called the giant of Africa because of our huge human resources and diversity, meaning that it is an asset that we should appreciate and not make it a liability.
“Nigerian leaders should not think of the well-being of Nigerians alone, but the well-being of the African continent as a whole to promote a common prosperity,” he said.
Mr. Obasanjo said that terrorism was thriving in the North-east due to the poor level of education in the region.
“The level of education in the South-west is 85 per cent, 83 per cent in the South-east and less than 30 per cent in the North-east. It is sad that we are having this statistics in the same country. “Our leaders should invest in education because it is very important for human growth and development,“ he said.
According to him, Nigeria has transited from pre-colonial to colonial rule, one military regime to another and from one political party to another taking over government. “But we need to transit to a popular movement where people will feel the impact of quality governance,” he said.
In his keynote address, Kandeh Yumkella identified bad leadership and governance, sit-tight leaders, ethnicity, too much book sense rather than digitalisation as some barriers to the development of Africa.
Mr. Yumkella is a former Director General, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and also a Presidential aspirant in this year’s election in Sierra Leone. He urged African leaders to include business experts and intellectuals in their cabinets, to bring in knowledge that could trigger the era of hope and opportunity in Africa.
“African leaders must be able to manage demographic transition where young men and women will be properly mentored and empowered to prepare them for the future.
“African leaders should also begin to support and invest in industrialisation, energy and infrastructure, especially the rail project, to connect our people and our economy. “They should also recognise that governance structure should be about development, research and evident-based policies,” he said.
In his remarks, Pat Utomi, Founder CVL, said that the current socio-economic challenges facing Africa require a reflection on measures to reverse poverty challenges to human dignity on the continent.
Mr. Utomi said at the heart of the challenge was a poor leadership which made efficient utilisation of human resources and natural endowments a failed mission.
According to him, most leaders fail, not because passion to lead is missing, but because they lack respect for Rule of Law and Public Governance Institutions.
“In spite of our challenges, hope is not lost, because Africa has the strong potential to rise from the present ashes of poverty and decay. “The current wind of change blowing across the globe is the rise of young leaders in business and government. Africa cannot be an exception to this global trend.
“The lesson is that leadership without adequate successor is failed leadership. “African leaders should, therefore, start the process of bringing up new generation leaders who are destined to be part of the future of the continent. .
“If technology will rule the future of almost every human endeavour, the transition to youth-led leadership in business and government should start today. Otherwise, Africa will be left behind again,” Mr. Utomi said.
The annual lecture series is CVL’s commitment to engendering conversations that will aid initiation of policies that are business friendly and capable of lifting the continent, particularly Nigeria out of poverty. It is also to help in growing leadership that can make these happen.