Presidents Obasanjo of Nigeria and  Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone
Presidents Obasanjo of Nigeria and Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone

KAIPTC hosts Presidents Obasanjo, Koroma

On Monday, February 6, 2023, the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) hosted two former Heads of State; President Obasanjo of Nigeria and President Ernest Bai Koroma of Sierra Leone.

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 They were the guest speakers at a round-table conference on security in West Africa, jointly hosted by the KAIPTC and the Brenthurst Foundation of South Africa.

In his welcome address, the Commandant of KAIPTC. Maj. Gen. Addo Gyane, among others, outlined the expectations of the centre at the end of the round-table conference.

Also speaking was Prof. Kwesi Aning, Director, Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research (FAAR) at KAIPTC.

Brenthurst Foundation

The Brenthurst Foundation is a South African think-tank established by the Oppenheimer family in 2004 to support the Brenthurst Initiative in seeking ways to fund African development, and organise conferences on African competitiveness.

Brenthurst is a town in South Africa.

Nicholas Oppenheimer is a South African billionaire, touted as the third richest man in Africa.

The West African Security Dialogue Round-table titled, “Meeting the African Security Challenge in the 2020s,” was chaired by Dr Greg Mills, Director of the Brenthurst Foundation. 

President Obasanjo

Starting with the economy of African countries, Chairman of the Brenthurst Foundation, President Obasanjo, said “most of our leaders don’t understand economy/economics!”

President Obasanjo expressed amazement at the profligate spending by governments in the midst of poverty after obtaining debt relief from HIPC status only 20 years ago!

He quickly added that his own country, Nigeria, was in no better situation.

He lamented Ghana’s current debt of $37 billion and that of Nigeria of over $50 billion, which he described as unsustainable.

His conclusion on Africa’s economies was “if our leaders don’t understand this, then we are doomed.”

He then spoke of African demographics and how populatiovvn growth impacted the economy.

He said about 60 years after independence, with the exception of Niger, most African counties have had their population multiplied five times.

In Niger’s case, however, her population had multiplied ten times. By 2050, Africa would have the third highest population in the world after China and India.

President Obasanjo said such population surge could be either positive or negative. 

President Koroma

In his contribution, President Koroma started by asking why we were at KAIPTC again to discuss African economic and security issues, something that had been done time without number in the past, at similar conferences.

He decried leadership failure in most African countries as the main cause of instability, adding that until recently, “West Africa was the darling of democracy.

Coups were a thing of the past but suddenly they are back with us.

This is attributed to leadership failure and the absence of the democratic dividend,” he said.

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President Koroma stated that citizens must therefore learn to speak truth to power to check the excesses of governments!

In a submission made by a participant, based on research that he had done, African youth were optimistic about the future, the generality of opinion was to the contrary.

However, other participants described the research as completely academic and not reflective of what was on the ground.

A point was made that meritocracy was a sine qua non to leadership, particularly in the military.

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This assertion, together with a submission that the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) was embarking on serious training and orientation and was providing services in the north, elicited interesting responses.

While it was accepted that training and orientation were good, a more important and better requirement was the enlistment and recruitment process.

Selection based on “protocol” slots for politicians, and not on merit is doomed to failure.

It was opined that the current recruitment/enlistment process in Ghana’s security services, which is skewed heavily in the direction of family and friends of politicians, did not augur well for the future of the GAF in particular in terms of professionalism.

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The recruitment process which is not based on merit but on political patronage and family and friends, if not reversed, will be a ticking time-bomb.

Summary

The current situation in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso, where the military has taken over in recent times, should be a wake-up call to African leaders, who while making claims to democratic governance in flamboyant speeches, preside over the impoverishment of their citizens, while they lead corrupt and lavish lifestyles with bloated governments!

Leadership, lead!

Fellow Ghanaians, wake up!

The writer is former CEO,

African Peace Support Trainers Association,

Kenya & Council Chairman,

Family Health University College,

Ghana.

E-mail: [email protected]

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