Re-Engineering African Political Leadership through Good Governance for Sustainable Development and Growth in Africa

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Abstract

The history of Africa from the pre-colonial till date clearly shows that it is a continent with all the potentialities for greatness. What is largely lacking is the proper leadership that could successfully harness abundant natural resources of Africa for sustainable growth and development. The development of Africa is in the hands of Africans as President Barack Obama of the United States of America rightly observed in his recent trip to Ghana. Therefore, what Africa needs to step into the terrain of greatness are a political leadership that has integrity, accountability, transparency, vision, the education, the will, the credibility and the capacity to manage the process of change and a followership that is ready to change its attitude, its ways and taste. These are necessary qualities and attributes required in African Leadership to guarantee sustainable growth and development of the continent.

Key Words: Good governance; Sustainable development; Leadership; Africa

INTRODUCTION

One way of measuring the success or failure of governments in modern societies is to assess how successful such governments are in developing the conditions for satisfying the basic needs of the people they govern. These needs include basic infrastructure, social services, public services and helping to create an efficient and productive economy. In addition, the effectiveness of such government is measured by their ability to mobilize or generate adequate resources (financial, human and material), and to optimally utilize these resources to meet basic needs, as well as facilitate opportunities on the path of socio-economic development generally (Ayo, 2000, p. 19, citing Stohr, 1981, p. 1-2). But there is also the presupposition that the capacity of governments to achieve these goals depends on the style or approach adopted by them in pursuing them (Ayo, ibid in Taylor, 1992, p. 214258). As far as African countries are concerned, several scholars have argued that the crisis these countries are facing stems essentially from the structurally-defective pattern of governance adopted by the elites since political independence in the 1960s (Wunsch & Olowu, 1990, p. 3-4 cited in Ayo, 2000, p. 19).

Good governance is the missing link in African leadership as was identified recently by the President of the United States of America, Mr. Barack Obama, in his recent visit to Ghana. The history of Africa in the 20th century was fraught with reports of conflicts, domination, exploitation, dehumanization etc., none of which is an index of development, not to talk of sustainable growth and development (Okoye, 2001, p. 122). This situation can only change when the respective countries of the continent achieve a positive change in the character and orientation of their government leadership. The leaders can bring this desired change by promoting good governance in African leadership through integrity, accountability and transparency, which would lead to attainment of sustainable growth and development in the continent. Thus, Chinua Achebe (1983) cited in Okoye (2001, p. ibid) argues in respect of Nigeria that the Nigerian problem is the indent unwillingness or inability of its leaders to rise to the responsibility, to the challenge of personal example, which are the hallmarks of true leadership. He however, opines that Nigeria can change today if she discovers leaders who have the will, the ability and the vision.

The logic and imperatives of a change from the present state of underdevelopment and widespread human misery in Africa to a state of sustainable development are rooted in the fact that the prevalent failure of leadership in the continent is simply a socio-political phenomenon which would be reversed in the desired direction once peoples who have been intellectually, experientially and morally equipped for that purpose take up the mantle of leadership (Okoye, 2001). The leaders needed in Africa must be integral part of the people in terms of the socio-economic and political experiences and vision of a better tomorrow for all. …