By Ebere Nwoji
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, has challenged leaders of the African Union member countries to shun every act of impunity and corruption in governance; enthrone the regime of good governance and critically define their interest in the global scheme of things, insisting that they were panacea to the development and advancement of the continent.
Obasanjo, who stated this while addressing a gathering of AfricanÂ media at the 24th Annual General Meeting of the African Export Import(AFREXIM) Bank, holding in Kigali, Rwanda, also appealed to the leaders toÂ liaise with regional Financial institutions like the African Development Bank (ADB), African Import Export (AFREXIM)Â Bank andÂ a body like Economic Commission For Africa(ECA). That, he said, would enable acquainting themselves with their activities, plans and programmes so as to advance their individual countries’ mission, and vision for regional economic integration.
“African leaders should embrace good governance, shun act of impunity in governance, remove prevailing corruption among them for these cannot help us to move forward, it will retrogress development and provision of basic infrastructure that are supposed to enhance trade. With good governance, some of the basic things that we lack will be there, we will have basic amenities like transport without which trade cannot thrive,” he stated.
He said for Africa to achieve economic integration, transform its current low level of trade growthÂ which he put at 15 per cent and be able to in the next few years, achieve at least 10 per centÂ growth inÂ intra- regional trade, the private sector, the publicÂ sector, regional financial institutions and the civil society organisations must come together and unanimously agree on where to take the continent to in their struggle to meet their western neighbours in terms of political and economic advancement.
He said African people, must agree to grow together by first realising where they are, what they have achieved, what need to be achieved and what needed to be done to get to their desired destination.
He advised the AU leaders to say no to western pressures, study all their partnership agreement offers, define their own interest and see if such agreements were in their favour or not before signing them.
He noted that Africans were not as weak as they presumed, adding that there was need to change their present mentality that tend to tell them that they were nobody before their western neighbours.
“Africans are not as weak as they thought, but their problem is this, if mentally, we say we are Lilliputians, that is what we are, if we say we are giants, that isÂ what we are and that is what the world see us to be”, he stated.
He commended the management of AFREXIMÂ Bank for choosing trade facilitation across the region as the theme of this year’s meeting, adding that looking at the history of world development, Africa in particular, trade played a very vital role in the area of unifying communities, countries and regions.
“What we are trying to do is to make history repeat itself in seeing what intra-African trade can doÂ in African development, what we should do is to ask ourselves what should we do, how can we do it in the area of enhancing trade in Africa”, he advocated.
The Former president, who had in his previous address at the meeting, emphasised on education for the African child as starting point for poverty alleviation, also insisted that basic education for all African Children was the foundation for development in the continent.
“Basic education for all African children will be a good beginning for our development because with that, we would have given them basic skill to enable them be useful to their community, country, the region and the world in general,” he pointed out.
He advised that all hands should be on the deckÂ to promote economic integration in Africa, pointing out thatÂ bottleneck to regional trading such as filling several forms to pass goods and people from one country to the otherÂ within the region, was inimical to economic growth of the continent.