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Kofi Annan Hits on Critical Areas

Mar 23, 2009, 4:48 AM

On the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Nigerian Chief, Obafemi Awolowo, the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, has made some pertinent and compelling observations about African political leadersip vis-a-vis national development. Excerpts from a wide-ranging speech have put emphasis on some salient developmental issues facing African leaders in this current generation. The former Secretary-General has made the following important points.

There has been real, significant and widespread progress in many African countries but such progress is not enough.

Here the detracting factor has been the inter-related conditions of socio-economic development, governance, and human rights. These in his view, leave much to be desired and much more to be done. He has concluded that even though the international community should step in to help Africa overcome these challenges; Africa must also work harder to put its own house in order by putting an end to ethnic and tribal divisions and other such factors that cause fractures in African societies.

The former UN boss also underscored the need for African political leaders to recognise and to really practise democracy even if that democracy allows for others to vote them out and occupy their place.

He expressed profound regret about the present situation of clinging on to power, and governments benefiting only a ruling circle instead of the society as a whole.

Regarding natural resources, Mr Annan has described these as a curse in many countries as the resultant revenues are never truly quantified or explained, and furthermore that the continent's natural wealth is allowed to be siphoned off by non-African countries.

Last but not least, the former UN Secretary decried the wide prevalence in Africa of disregard to human rights, the rule of law, and entrenchment of the culture of impunity.

He expressed strong support to institutions particularly special tribunals and the International Criminal Court for tackling this culture of impunity and human rights abuses.

The points raised by the former Secretary are most pertinent and accurate, having emerged from long and intensive study and actual experiences during his tenure as Secretary-General of the United Nations. If African governments are already working on the cited flaws inherent in our African development, then they need to work much harder.

They must work harder to eliminate clinging to power by any means, entrench prudent management of natural resources, fostering good governance, and respect of the rule of law.


"The object of governance in peace and in war is not the glory of rules or of races, but the happiness of the common man."

William Beveridge