By IKE NELIAKU
Paper Presented to One Africa Initiative (OAI), Friday April 24, 2020
“I greet you here on the bank of the James River in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and twelve (1712). First, I shall thank you, the gentlemen of the Colony of Virginia, for bringing me here. I am here to help you solve some of your problems with slaves. Your invitation reached me on my modest plantation in the West Indies, where I have experimented with some of the newest and still the oldest methods for control of slaves. …In my bag here, I have a foolproof method for controlling your black slaves. I guarantee every one of you that if installed correctly it will control the slaves for at least 300 years . My method is simple. Any member of your family or your overseer can use it.
- “I have outlined” “a number of differences among the slaves and make the differences bigger. I use fear, distrust and envy for control. I shall assure you that distrust is stronger than trust and envy stronger than adulation, respect or admiration. The Black slaves after receiving this indoctrination shall carry on and will become self-refueling and self-generating for hundreds of years, maybe thousands. Don’t forget you must pitch the old black Male vs. the young black Male, and the young black Male against the old black male. You must use the dark skin slaves vs. the light skin slaves, and the light skin slaves vs. the dark skin slaves. You must use the female vs. the male. And the male vs. the female. You must also have your white servants and overseers distrust all Blacks. It is necessary that your slaves trust and depend on us. They must love, respect and trust only us. Gentlemen, these kits are your keys to control. Use them. Have your wives and children use them, never miss an opportunity. If used intensely for one year, the slaves themselves will remain perpetually distrustful of each other. Thank you gentlemen.” (https://a.co/2Qx35fp)
- The above speech delivered by Willie Lynch in 1712, a British slave owner, to teach other slave owners on how to control and manage blacks as slaves, becomes the prologue of this presentation. Interestingly, the term ‘lynching’ was derived from his last name.
- I had contemplated greatly, what should form the content of this paper, the length, format, style, etc. I asked myself what will be the most effective way to communicate my thoughts? I concluded that my best approach will be to write straight, be practical and functional, using little or no theories and quotes, not unduly lengthy. My conclusion is based on the fact that majority of those on this platform are ‘book’ people. They are widely read, very enlightened, and may not require any academic tutorials; they are very busy people whose time to read, no matter how beautiful a piece, must not be abused; a lot has already been said on the platform, with most containing correct assertions and possible solutions; it is a family congregation and we know ourselves fairly enough; and most importantly, the citizens of Africa on whose behalf the platform is convened are in a hurry for solutions. Unlike the proverbial tortoise who became very hysterical and restless after a decision has already been taken to get him out of a shit hole he has been in for several years, ours has indeed peaked, become an emergency, and a matter of life and death. If Africa does not seize the moment, the moment shall seize Africa. Arising from the above, I shall not attempt regurgitating the problems, we already know it; I will simply state the issue as I see it, and go straight to address the solutions.
- Distinguished Africans, having served in Nigerian government at very vantage levels for over 2 decades and in the private sector for over a decade; a keen observer of governance and power dynamics across Africa, I have come to only one conclusion on the matter of Africa. It is no longer the people, it is not our geography, it is not even our education, it is not science and technology, it is not necessarily our culture.
- It is LEADERSHIP!
- Both our father, Chinua Achebe and ‘their’ father John Maxwell, reached a conclusive consensus years back on the value leadership carries and its distress when not deployed. While John Maxwell asserts that “EVERYTHING RISES AND FALLS ON LEADERSHIP”, CHINUA ACHEBE contended that, “THE TROUBLE WITH NIGERIA (AFRICA) IS SIMPLY AND SQUARELY A FAILURE OF LEADERSHIP”. I am persuaded to add that leadership is a function of the head, both in terms of nature (faculties) and substance (products). Though comparatively small in size, the head still carries immeasurable qualities that leads the belly and every part of the body. Sadly, it is when the belly takes over and begins to lead the head that the society runs into big problems. There are several dimensions to leadership in Africa, but for the factor of time and space, we shall examine a few core issues of leadership, proffer suggestions, and draw conclusions.
African Union (AU) and Matters of Integration
- One of the key setbacks of leadership in Africa is the challenge of integration, internally and externally. While a few African leaders understood the virtue of national integration and embraced it as a strategic option for driving nation building, growth and development, others allowed it as blind spots, and wittingly and unwittingly, subjected themselves to a deliberate cultivation of the villain of disintegration. Interestingly, in all its founding instruments, African Union, the umbrella body of African nations, states its vision as,“An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in global arena.”Its Mission is to become “An efficient and value-adding institution driving the African integration and development process in close collaboration with African Union Member States, the Regional Economic Communities and African citizens”. The Union goes further to assert that it has “shifted focus from supporting liberation movements in the erstwhile African territories under colonialism and apartheid, as envisaged by the OAU since 1963… to an organization spear-heading Africa’s development and integration. Finally, article 1 and 3 of its 14-point objective states, 1.To achieve greater unity, cohesion and solidarity between the African countries and African nations; and 3. To accelerate the political and social-economic integration of the continent.
In other words, it is a settled matter for the founders of African Union that integration is the benchmark, the critical and fundamental factor to development. Where there is no integration, anarchy reigns and where anarchy reigns development takes flight.
- The question for the AU at this point is why has Africa not integrated? The answers may not be far to fetch. The AU has about 6 official languages, namely English, French, Arabic, Portuguese, Spanish, Swahili. Out of the 6 only one could be said to be real African indigenous language, the rest are products of colonialism which indicates the source of influence, control, and to a large extent the culture and character of the people, and by extension the Union. I would at this point add a potential 7th language which is now racing to the front – Chinese. This explains the difficulty the Union is facing in building integration. The instruments of colonialism and release of the colonial nations are not of the same mindset, culture and content. For instance, while the subtle English people adopt remote control engagement method with her ‘satellite’ nations, the French prefer direct control. That is a sample of what happens at the Union.
- Freedom therefore, means different things to the nations in these categories. The implication is that Africa is not one, and very unlikely to be in recent years unless some drastic actions are taken, very fast too. This is why it is difficult to reach consensus and even to go ahead and implement the consensus except where there is a common threat or enemy amongst the colonial interests. I have a feeling that the reason African nations rose quickly in unison to engage China following its degrading handling of some African nationals earlier this month, is because China is currently a common enemy to most Western countries that have interest and influence in Africa. As a senior aide in the then newly created, Nigerian Ministry of Cooperation and Integration in Africa (MCIA), I have watched some African countries come to meeting halls to oppose matters of African interest hitherto settled, because their ‘lords’ counselled to the contrary.
- To avoid breeding disunity on the platform I will avoid mentioning specific countries but I am sure many of us have some ideas. Many members of the Union are distorted, carrying African heads on foreign bodies; failure to maintain this monstrous image which will be at their peril. They consult with their sponsors from outside Africa and take briefs on agenda of meetings before attending Summits. Sometimes they are even told not to attend because the outcome will not be beneficial to the sponsors. Is it news that Dr Arikana Chihombori-Quao, then African Union (AU) Ambassador to the United States (US) was sacked for daring to stand up against a European interest in Africa.
Instinct for Self-Survival and Personal Protection
- A sense of personal protection occurs when the mindset of a leader is captured by self-survival and protection of overriding personal interest, above national and continental. I was opportune to serve as a pioneer senior aide when the Ministry of Cooperation and Integration in Africa (MCIA) was created in 1999 by then President of Nigeria. The ministry was novel, lacked character, content, manpower, funding, as well as guiding and operational principles. In fact, it was described by cabinet ministers and other highly placed government officials as a desert. Given the vibrancy and intellectual capacity of the pioneer minister, we were able to define, structure and develop operational focus for the ministry. From having no cylinder the ministry began to run on 4, comprising African Integration, Regional Cooperation (ECOWAS) Manpower Development, and Capacity Mobilisation, etc. To give it feet, world class programmes were designed and agencies created to touch the subregion in particular and continent in general. One of these programmes was the Directorate for Technical Cooperation in Africa (DTCA), an agency meant to upscale African indigenous technical capacity, manpower utilization for African integration, and harness development of critical projects across Africa. We provided for the DTCA to be funded by another innovation – a Nigeria Technical Cooperation Fund (NTCF) carved out of some Nigerian fund lying fallow then in the coffers of African Development Bank (AfDB). The fund was to be co-managed by the DTCA and AfDB. The Fund became operational on April 5, 2004 and considered as the single largest bilateral co-operation fund established by an African Country at the AfDB. As at 2017, all 54 African Countries have benefited directly or indirectly from NTCF interventions (www.afdb.org).
- The second was an ECOWAS Food Security programme designed to turn the subregion into a major food basket capable of feeding the entire continent and beyond. The third was an understanding with the then Government of Ghana, and personal endorsement of president Jerry J. Rawlins, to establish the ECOWAS Railways initiative, designed to start along the Lagos-Accra corridor and later extended to other regional cities. The two programmes were to start about the third quarter of 2001, with four others to follow. We had settled in and comfortably cruising in our ‘desert’ when ‘tragedy’ struck in the first quarter of 2001. The then Nigerian president was said to be having problems of public perception, stakeholder engagement, with the consequential backlash arising from poor handling of his media. This led to a cross-posting with the then Minister of Cooperation and Integration in Africa uprooted and redeployed to Ministry of Information and his counterpart in Information sent to replace him at Ministry of Integration. The sore point of this decision was that at the time of the cross-posting many African countries had embraced the renewed vigour in continental integration and gone ahead to establish their Ministries of Corporation and Integration (under different nomenclature) while others were at different levels of doing same. Unfortunately, that singular decision by President of Nigeria began the downward cascade of MCIA until it became history, with programmes casualties that went with it.
- Ike Neliaku, Ph.D, fnipr, fapra, ficmc, fimc, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Prize for Leadership