Leadership Succession in Africa
By Alphonse Prierra
Africa has the most resources in the world as a continent, in spite of all this it is still the poorest with most of its problems caused by poor leadership. To some extent, the first generation of African leaders have failed in many cases simply because they have failed to respond positively and effectively to the challenges of change. If you are wondering in what tangent I am taking this discussion, relax and sip your tea or cold glass of water and allow me to explain further.
Now that you have sipped your fluid of choice, and summoned up your concentration back on this write up, I will perhaps try to convince you to my line of thought and argument. To you, Yes! you threading through this article; our African leaders of earlier times lacked the capacity or should I say the will to fully understand future implications of domestic and global changes, the problems of its people and finding sustainable solutions to them. Some of them have failed to provide an atmosphere which would enable continuous evolution of succeeding generation of young leaders with vision, integrity, commitment and competence. We live in a world of continuous change in which we continue to experience challenges as well as opportunities and possibilities; however those with the opportunities will exploit or perhaps to be fair, we could add , is expected, they will exploit. Let's get this right! We as Gambians are part of this and whether we opt to choose for the former or latter group; history will judge us on.
Leadership is simply a multidirectional influence that exists between a leader and follower for the mutual purpose of accomplishing change. Africa’s problem has continued to be mainly on leadership styles. Most governments claim to be practising real democracy which in actual fact is not in existence in most cases. Thus, in their own self-sactioned invention of democracy, have continued to misuse power to win their interest for public office year after year. An ardent and somewhat moderate thinker may associate this approach to leadership and its consequences as a byproduct of colonialism; but let's face it, the bondage of the colonialist over us cannot be used as justification by ourselves for a lifetime. African leaders are failing to create vibrant economies which can respond to the changing global patterns. They are also failing to create democratic political systems relevant to African traditions with structure and patterns of governments that are effective, transparent, accountable and pragmatic. The continent continues to be regarded as the poorest primarily because it has failed to respond effectively and timely to change, challenges and opportunities both in Africa and beyond.
Furthermore, another of Africa’s problems continuous to be inappropriate policies, bad governance, ineffective and corrupt leaders. We need to understand that no one is going to bail Africa out; we must start solving our own problems which will require necessary rethinking and producing bold answers. Only competent, visionary and committed leaders are likely to create the desired environment. Our leaders must therefore be ready to defend and protect the interest and welfare of the people . Unfortunately some African leaders run the country like a sole-trader making decisions that are not in the interest of the people.
What needs to be done is the creation of an appropriate leadership capable of nurturing and promoting Africa, renaissance and steering it through transition to the knowledge and information based societies of the 21st century. There is now young educated African youths, talented and with potentials for leading. They should be provided with a conducive environment .to exploit their talents for honesty, integrity, respect, justified pride for strivings, achievements and successes. In some cases leadership is based on or monopolised by the dominant tribe(s) keeping law and order, failure to create better political order of peace and stability within which people from diverse, ethnic and regional backgrounds can work and ease the problem of unemployment.
Africa need leaders who believe in democracy not simply saying or talking about it during election campaigns to win elections and give a deaf ear once in power. 2015 has become a critical year for African democracy with many going to the polls in at least ten (10) countries including the peaceful transfer of power in Nigeria, Lesotho, and Zambia etc. When elections are held those elected whether legitimate or through vote rigging always claim to represent the majority or the will of the people and yet some of them just want to stay and rule forever including the likes of Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and of course Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia. Most of our leaders have failed to respect our laws, violated the rights of their people as well as believing that leaders are born and not made therefore is a God-given right for them to rule forever...
Effective succession and transfer of power can only be possible if politicians stop manipulations of the state's machinery. With peaceful application of constitutional processes Africa will move forward, but even better, all our inept leaders who we can rightfully refer to as despots will have no place in the administration of our people and resources. What will happen to them afterwards I leave to your imagination........
By Alphonse Prierra.