Elumelu: Anarchy Reigns where Hopelessness,Poverty Prevail

Dike Onwuamaeze

The Founder of Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF), Mr. Tony Elumelu, has declared that it would be difficult for Africa to attain social and political stability in the midst of economic hopelessness, gender inequality and abject poverty because anarchy reigns where hopelessness prevailed.

Elumelu made the declaration yesterday at the United States Institute of Peace and the Heritage Foundation where he stated that what Africa needs is economic prosperity that would bring peace and reduce conflicts.

He said: “Lack of economic opportunities, poverty, joblessness and gender inequality are issues that create political instability. We cannot have political stability if we do not address these fundamentals. So, it is a problem and we hope and pray that it stops there, and serves as wakeup call for political leaders to sit up and prioritise the young ones by addressing these social and economic problems so that prosperity, or at least a drastic reduction of poverty, will help to reduce instability.”

Elumelu added: “I preach always that poverty anywhere is a threat to all of everywhere. We can’t have stability if people are hungry.  We cannot have stability if people are starving. We cannot have stability if there is no economic hope. People can endure and say okay that the way things are going, within three to five years things will be okay.

“But wherever there is hopelessness, anarchy reigns. That is what we are seeing. So, the solutions are good governance, prioritisation of our people, especially the young ones in particular, and engaging with the private sector to increase its ability to create jobs on the continent so that we can engage (employ) these people while making sure that we run an inclusive society that brings food to the table.” 

“That is the solution,” he said.

Elumelu, however, noted that it is not the role of the private sector to mediate conflicts but to create jobs that would help to avert them.

According to him, “the private sector is not trained to be involved in conflict negotiation. However, we can play a role to prevent it. For me, rather than dealing with consequences, we should be making sure that it does not happen in the first instance. And the private sector can play a role there.”

“So, for me the private sector has a role to play. And that is at the centre of Africapitalism, which stresses the leadership role of the private sector in 21 century Africa in galvanising economic growth, opportunities and development.”

Elumelu also stated that governments in Africa must create the enabling environment for the private sector to play its role of spreading economic opportunities.

 He is also looking forward to the oncoming dialogue with African leaders of government. “I pray and hope that it will be a true dialogue that brings the private sector and leaders of government together and one that people should not come with written speeches.

“Let us have conversations like this so that we can engage and dialogue to let our leaders know what the private sector needs and let them understand that the success of the private sector will help them to fulfill their election manifestos and promises. So that both the private and public sector will work in harmony within what is generally acceptable so that we can operate inclusive government.

“Private sector will play a role in helping to avert conflicts rather than being involved in its resolution. I am sure that what the private sector will be saying is let us create jobs and improve access to electricity. Let us deal with internet connectivity and bandwidth issue. Let make sure that our society is inclusive and the women have a place at the table, and young ones also have a seat at the table and that everyone is involved irrespective of religion,” he said.

He also described Africa as a continent of entrepreneurs and used his own life story to validate this assertion. “Tony Elumelu started from nowhere. I was not a billionaire’s son. We created this out of cheer entrepreneurship and determination to survive.

“Today there are many young people that are more determined than I was. But the difference is access to opportunities. And that is what I want to create. That is why I am mobilising others in the private sector to team up and do something that will be impactful.”

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