Obasanjo: Poverty and Wealth is a Choice Africa Must Make

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Shola Oyeyipo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said the choice between poverty and wealth in Africa is a choice to be made by the people of the continent.

Obasanjo who spoke yesterday at the launch of a book titled: ‘Making Africa Work’ and authored by the Director, Brenthurst Foundation, Greg Mills; President CEO/Newseum, Jeffery Herbst, Major General Dickie Davis (rtd) and himself, described Africa as a rich continent that is poorly managed.

He also advocated an urgent need for jobs and need to create wealth for younger Africans.
The authors, in their book, called for tougher decisions on the part of leaders in Africa if they are truly committed to moving the continent away from backwardness.

According to him, “Africa is not poor but poorly managed and if it would be corrected, it has to be correctly managed.”

Brenthurst, on his part, noted: “In the Arab springs, when youths perceived that they had no future, they overthrew their leaders and destabilised countries in a matter of weeks. Highlight how quickly such tensions can spill over; even into political collapse. The threat is particularly severe now that power is increasingly in the hands of individual citizens enabled by the rapid spread of mobile communications.

“We are hopeful about the prospects of African countries, but only if tough decisions are made now. The old ‘business as usual’ approach of governments and leaders must change if they are to cope with Africa’s pending population boom.
“Reform necessitates fundamentally changing the way in which African economies work. It means being open to international trade and capital rather than aid, being reliant on enterprise rather than personalized and patronage-ridden systems, while the aim of government should be private- sector growth rather than public sector redistribution.”

Herbst on his past said : “Africa’s challenges should be understood in the context of universal norms and practices and not as isolated or unique problems. Not so long ago, after all, many Asian and Latin American countries found themselves under circumstances that were very similar to much of Africa today. Whether devising industrial policy or trying to achieve equity through growth, Africa does not have to reinvent the wheel: a lot can be learnt from others.”