Adeleke: Nigeria Cannot Achieve SDGs with Foreign Aid

Adebayo Adeleke

Adebayo Adeleke is the Managing Partner at Pantote Solutions LLC (Dallas, TX); Principal Partner, Senior Supply Chain Consultant for Epot Consulting Limited; Lecturer in Supply Chain Management at the Sam Houston State University and a retired U.S Army Major with over 20 years of military service and multiple combat tours. In this interview with Oluchi Chibuzor, he says no government can achieve Sustainable Development Goals with aid from other countries

Over the years we have heard a lot of people say that African countries have no business receiving aid from western countries, what is your view about that?


I believe that perception has some element of truth in it. Although, no one is perfect and it is okay to need some assistance in the form of aid. However, countries must never depend on it solely.  I will say this, for more clarity, Africa needs to stop depending heavily on aids from western countries.  With my knowledge of nation-building, strategic posturing, and social psychology, I know that aids are never given for free.

It is common for donor countries to use these aids as a tool to influence the receiving countries. We can’t keep living like that. Africa is the breadbasket of the world, we have almost everything we need to survive and we possess the key to unlock a lot of prosperity. Our bane is poor leadership. Why should we have enough resources to support our citizens and even give to the rest of the world, yet we keep requesting aids? Instead of working out ways to keep receiving these grants, it is time for us to return to the drawing board and get things working. These aids cannot guarantee sustainable development. Why then do keep depending on them?


Recently, at the TICAD 7, held in Japan, some countries got grants from the Japanese government, what is your view on the outcomes of the summit?

I am the wrong person to be asked about my views on President Muhammadu Buhari’s trip to Japan. I have made my views known about these aid packages dressed in niceness of partnership investments. I have maintained my stand that all these initiatives either by the western democracies or eastern-states-ran capitalism have other motives behind it.

It is even outrageous that some of these countries are not accommodating to Africans in their immigration policies; yet, they are so concerned about the African continent. We have to see beyond these packages. Nigeria and Africa’s greatest export is human capital. Nigeria has enough human capacity to make sense of its resources if properly guided and structured. All these summits and initiatives present a quick fix to an already aged and irresponsive system. There is no quick fix to getting the country back on track; there is only one way out of this, which is to build the country brick by brick.

The countries offering aid packages built their economies and country through due diligence and by building system and structure that works for them. PMB’s trip to Japan equals doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Japan’s interest in Africa, America’s African Initiative, Chinese Belt and Silk Road and many other initiatives by different countries and unions were planned. They put Africans into their agenda. What is Africa planning for itself? Quite frankly, I believe that PMB’s recent trip to Japan was not necessary and strategic. We are playing into the hands of economies that are expanding their empire through Africa.  African countries need to be strategic and negotiate from the position of power.


But what is your general view about leadership in the country?


I believe that Nigeria and Africa as a whole lack an ideal leadership that is vision focused, laced with emotional intelligence, and prioritizes the well-being of its followers.

Looking back in history, Nigeria has never had a solid and grounded leadership framework and construct. It has never had a leadership framework that encourages capacity building, sustainable followership, and leadership network that is built on the appropriate value system and encourages progressive movement.

What Nigeria needs is an ideal leadership framework that zeroes in on emotional intelligence, which promotes national development and simplifies the process of understanding the challenges and constraints encountered in the aspects of work performance, personal development, and problem framing. However, once an ideal leadership framework is in place, the prevailing trajectory of the country’s development will be appropriately redirected. Followers will have a detailed guide for their activities. This framework would also serve as an ideal model for transforming followers into well-equipped leaders.


Why do you think leadership is critical to Nigeria achieving the SDGs?

Leadership is everything! There is no way any of the United Nations’ Sustainable Developmental Goals (SDGs) can be accomplished without visionary and strategic leadership. If someone tells you otherwise, then you should question that individual’s motive. Anything short of leadership in SDGs can be perceived as misguided or misinformed goals. It is quite interesting how the UN expect all these laudable SDGs from poverty elimination to fostering partnership to be achieved without leadership. This does not apply to Nigeria only. Leadership should be the focal point goal that should be incorporated into the SDGs. Without it, there is no way any of these goals will be achieved at the target date. Leadership is need to create the blueprint for achieving these nation-building goals.

What is your view on aid and its implications towards achieving the SDGs?

Aids are stopgaps.  Every country has received some type of assistance before.  My position is clear, there is no problem with receiving aids but countries should not base their existence on it. What we have seen over time is that African countries have adjusted their lifestyles to make the aids their sustaining lifeline. If poverty elimination, which is the first SDGs is going to happen globally, aids will play a major role in providing stop-gap until capacity is developed to provide sustainability. None of the SDGs will be achieved without aids, but these SDGs cannot be sustained with aids either. This is why we need solid leadership. It will be disingenuous to say that Africa doesn’t need aids at all because it has its peculiarities. What we must strive to build is an independent economy.

Aside from legislation and enforcement what other skills are needed to foster sustainable leadership in the country?

In my humble opinion, I do not believe that Nigeria is serious about nation-building and from all indications, there is nothing that proves that there is a plan for sustainable leadership in the country. For Nigeria to have a sustainable and progressive leadership framework that will build capacity for the future generation, certain things must be in place. To begin with, Nigeria and her citizens must admit that there is a need for leadership restructuring within the country.  Once this is in place, concerted efforts will then be geared to ensure that the ideal leadership framework is developed. Everyone must then commit to support the framework and abide by its terms if we want to see visible growth overtime.

I also believe that to foster sustainable leadership, leadership training must be accessible to all regardless of social status.  Leadership education has become more of an elitist activity in Africa.  Everyone must begin to think like a leader instead of leaving the growth of the country and indeed the continent to a few people. Additionally, leadership cannot be viewed in isolation.