Africa, a continent abundantly gifted with natural resources and astronomical value of human capital is yet to find its rightful place among the comity of nations. A key cause that has been to blame for her lack of socioeconomic development is the trend of bad leadership and corruption. The essence of the paper rest in the fact that political leadership as well as corruption was entwined and it is alongside this backdrop that it explored the fraudulent trend of the political ruling class in Africa. The paper concludes that for Africa to experience sustainable socio-economic development, reliable and trustworthy leaders must materialize to embed the act of good and selfless governance in the country.
Africa in recent times is bombarded by an inherent predicament in comparison with other Latin American countries and Asia. In illustration from the practice of other developed
Countries, one needs to be cautious in order to escape easy oversimplifications in regard to contemporary determinants for African economic and social makeover. Every significant thought of African development plan must take notice to the crucial matter of good leadership as well as eradication of corruption at all stages. The ruling class in Africa many a times plead ignorance of the fact that they are in power in order to be of service to the citizens and not vice versa ; they exploit their positions to put as much public money as they can in their pockets and even get away with it! Unfortunately most African countries have come to acknowledge corruption as a normal occurrence and often see it as a means to an end. However on the other hand leaders of the developed world, are often placed under a 24 hour watchful scrutiny, their past is vigilantly investigated before ascending to any public office.
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Transparency International approximates that corruption in Africa robs us 25 to 35 percent of financial support from essential service provision, in addition many research studies and newspapers have proven that African leaders extract billions every year from their economically weak countries. In 1999 the United Nations approximated that the ruling elites drained more than 250billion dollars out of Africa. Ayittey (2004) and Lawal (2007) agree that the summation was more than half the African foreign debt and that it surpassed the quantity of foreign aid to Africa and concluded that policy makers in the region face an overwhelming task of achieving development goals because Africa has large percentages of highly corrupt countries.
Over the years, it has become increasingly clear that the former colonial masters cleverly gave up on political power while at the same time retaining economic power. African leaders were ill equipped and began leadership to a false start. Unprepared for the economic ambush that the neocolonialism would unleash consequently our greedy leaders became easy victims for manipulation by the west. The high ideals of being a servant to the citizens remained largely a big part focus for theory and speech-making.
In harmony with the aim for political dominance as an ending in itself, African leaders were unable convert freedom from colonial power to the popular beliefs of democracy and liberty. They were unsuccessful in building capacities for the people to engage in meaningful economic and social development. Power was handed over to a specific individual rather than to the political party, and the leader was seen as a renowned wealthy family as opposed to being a representative of the country. Hence religious, cultural and ethnic walls weren’t synchronized via basis of equitability and fair balance of interests. Discrepancies that ordinarily should have been eliminated after independence were infact made worse by it. Grumbles of unfairness and ill-treatment by the marginalized parties inside these territories were utterly overlooked. As a result defiance to inequality and preeminence of power by influential groups or families or authoritarian leaders was restrained by bigger abuses of power. Consequently, breaches of human rights and suppression of the manpower that could have otherwise been used for nation building and development.
In Nigeria for instance, during the reign of President Olesegun Obasanjo, who was entirely in control of petroleum in Nigeria, it was investigated and reported that over 500 million dollars meant for upkeep and renovations of the oil industry had not been put to any use and infact ghost contactors had been tendered the contracts (Adokoye, 2006: 31). Further it revealed that the petroleum industry, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was one of the biggest corrupt bodies in Nigeria. Also in 2004 federal ministers were accused of robbing the public 24 billion naira. Audit by Vincent Azile the auditor general at the time revealed presence of embezzlement, double debiting, inflation of contract figures as well as release of funds without consent from approving authority in at least 15 ministries.
Undoubtedly nations in endure effects of poor administration, inadequate judicial infrastructure and insufficient numbers of expertise. But these short-comings cannot explain the abuse and misuse of state power in the continent. For instance, Kenya has a big figure of highly-trained professionals, as well as accountants and constitutional lawyers put down budgetary procedures, with inclusion of provisions for checks and balances. But the fact remains that Kenyan rulers have ignored the provisions of the constitution and put down administrative procedures as irrelevant to the actual workings of government.
Omar Al-Bashir, the present President of Sudan, grabbed power in 1989 in a bloodless military coup de ta in opposition to the government of Prime Minister Sadiq al-Mahdi- a government which had been independently elected by the citizens of the country. Shortly after grabbing power, Al-Bashir disintegrated all political parties Sudan, dispersed the country’s parliament and cut out all privately-owned media firms. His time in power has been distinguished by civil conflicts wherein more than one million people have lost their lives not to mention numbers of those who have been rendered refugees by the war and at the same time several millions have lost their livelihoods. Not to mention that Al-Bashir has a warrant of arrest on his head and has been sought after by the International Criminal Court for prompting crimes against humanity, especially with reference to heading and financing acts of carnage against the people of Southern Sudan. Distinctively corrupt, a diplomatic wikileaks cable discovered that Al-Bashir had likely siphoned several $10 billion of his Sudan’s finances into his personal bank accounts in the United Kingdom.
Very disconcerting is how corruption leaves the poverty stricken to be perpetually poor at the same time impedes the growth of democracy and societal construction . (Ribada, 2008) and by deflecting away from the original purpose of funds or services, corruption is assumed to be the sole most significant factor to blame for the catastrophe of leadership and the lack of socio economic development in Africa.
Africa’s corruption is a manifestation of its leadership and institutional failure after gaining it freedom from colonialists essentially because of misuse of power mediocre management of economies, corruption, and absence of democracy, personal wealth are what our leaders today embrace.
There are also those who worship the Europeans. Where they invest their ill-gotten gains and wealth stolen from their motherland. Africa continues to be poor because politics is considered an easy ticket to prosperity, to add to that the leadership has no continuity agenda and opt for dying in office, being some of the richest people in the world amidst the most poverty-stricken citizens in the world. In open public speeches African leaders criticize control by the west but in reprehensible booked appointments behind closed doors they are otherwise occupied appealing to Europe and China to carry on where they left off pre-independence. Captivatingly, modern china is gradually becoming a colony of Africa given all the contracts they have taken over in Africa.
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Meanwhile regional Organizations like the African Union (AU) who one would presume have their work cut out for them, have regrettably done nothing to endorse good governance in Africa. I’m quite that the difficulties are known but, the answers for them continue to be hypothetical and set aside on computer memory someplace in Addis Ababa. What we possess are heads that split us up instead unifying. Drawing from the example of the late Muammar El Qaddafi, these divisions turn against them and in the end the outcome is a very overpowering catastrophe that is often difficult to deal with. A renowned journalist Aguako Basaid in his address to Nigerians during a leadership conference said that, “an African leader finds it difficult to renounce power and in an attempt to perpetuate himself in power, he gets so many people involved in corrupt practices”.
Most dictatorial leaders in Africa have had tenures spreading for over 30 decades for example are Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe, Cameroon’s Paul Biya, Angola’s Jose dos Santos, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, of Equatorial Guinea and like many of their predecessors these leader spent their whole careers enriching themselves, bullying opponents, circumventing all but the simple ensnares of democracy aggressively frustrating movements gunning for constitutional rule . According to Ayittey (2012) they are successful because they control the major arms of government; civil service, electoral bodies, security forces including the military, the press, media and the central banks in their countries. This trend started with the first generation of African nationalist leaders because they enjoyed great honor and prestige making them feel godly and of course absolute power does infact corrupts absolutely.
They also came off successful in eliminating or disregarding checks and balances. Instead of they exercised vast systems of patronage and in the process sported enormous power and authority allowing them to subjugate all relevant institutions consequently they helped lay a bad foundation for governance in Africa and corruption rampant in their economies. Institutions today are unable to control excesses of their dictators. Debatably on, can consider Africa as a continent built on unstable ground.
Also observed in present times are the ever present cases of electoral fraud, contested elections, presidents with too much power at their disposal and political upheaval not to mention economic policies introduced by government to sustain their domination and exploitation.
The misfortune in Africa is not that its countries are poor, that is a condition that is a product of history. The misfortune is that it does not have ruling classes dedicated to prevailing over the state of underdevelopment. Bad governance is not a principal predicament of lack of knowledge or infrastructural competence or even of individual dictators. African countries are wakened by instruments of development because of the rulers, not to mention people within and out of government, are aggravated by goals that do not have the slightest to do with the general good. Until this situation changes there is little hope for Africa. Policies aimed at controlling or reducing corruption in African countries must begin with laying the foundation for a strong institution- economic, political and social- in all sectors of the economy.
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