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Opinions of Saturday, 25 April 2009

Columnist: Aka-eri, Francis Aka-ebila

Why African Presidents Disappoint Their People

Be it the ballot or the bullet, most African presidents would usually disappoint their people - simply because like children, Africans expect nothing besides the best of bloom from their presidents. And even as we continue to vent our frustrations by lashing out at our leaders for failing to provide and meet us at the point of our needs, we also make something clear to the world – we are dumb, weak and incapable of governing ourselves.

Besides our scanty taxes and raw materials, which often sell for less on the world market, African governments thoughtlessly depend on baiting grants and tied loans to keep their economies afloat. Like a people who have lost their civilization and forgotten their past, we scramble for survival from unsustainable foreign sources – and that is the problem.

In fact, over the years, European leaders have made countless pledges to help African economies find their feet. But even as we speak, over ninety per cent of such foreign pledges have never been met or honoured - leaving African countries in limbo and wandering what could soon become of their weak economies.

The question however is not whether we have the right kind of leadership, but also the right kind of mindset to free ourselves. For as long us our political leaders portray themselves as professional beggars, we would always depend on others. And as long us we lazily depend on others, we would never find our feet to be who we truly are by God's decree.

Instead of selling our gold and diamonds for less, we should build factories to turn such resources into fine and precious jewelry for export. Instead of cocoa beans, we should rather export chocolate of higher quality, even as we invent more tasty cocoa products. In fact, as one enjoys a tour across Ghana, what becomes apparent is that Ghanaians are an industrious people; who proudly have the technology to transform their raw materials into finished products. Unfortunately, the Ghanaian government encourages the sale of raw materials like cocoa beans for fewer returns - instead of finished products like chocolates for higher returns.

Our cities look filthy and dilapidated, even as talented architects walk our streets, while our leaders get busy trying to promote themselves, their families and friends, partly because if they do not; then they become the worthless ones to blame in their household. And that explains why corruption is at its peak in most African countries – it stems from our culture.

In my opinion, it is about time for the people of Africa to quit looking up to their failing governments for direction and swiftly start going global with their innovations. We should think about our worlds and what we can do to make them better places to flourish. After all, it is only we who can weather the storm and create something new for our people and ourselves.

In truth, though there are countless talents in Africa, Africans would never really see the light of day without unleashing the beauty that lies within us. Our governments should refrain from taking what we produce to market. Instead, the private sector should be encouraged and empowered to occupy this vital role in our global trade relations. For it is only when our private sector is strongly firing on all engines, could we really become self-reliant enough to support ourselves, our ailing economies and starving African governments.

As an African, it is my wish that such innovative policies would be communicated and implemented across the board to empower the African people. I therefore call on the Africa Union Government to promote this effort. For in any case, it is the African who really understands the core challenges of Africa and how to prevail.

Written By: Francis Aka-ebila Aka-eri