Ever since Africa resorted to self-governance, astonishing acts of gross ineptitude and recklessness have become the hallmark of a substantial number of leaders who have managed to insert themselves into leadership roles.
Even though most African countries now practice democracy, at least on paper, the truth remains that most serving African leaders prefer to act like little gods, despising democracy and its principles. The tragedy of the African continent is that most of its leaders have nothing tangible to offer, yet, they always make big claims to clinch power without any serious will to better the lives of the people who they often hoodwink at every given turn. Despite the heavy endowments upon the continent, they have remained at the lowest cadre of development even as they hold leading positions on the rankings for negative indices of growth.
Africa is a country richly endowed by nature. The continent is home to very rich natural possessions such as raw materials, oil and gas, gold, fertile soil, enough sunlight and rain for cultivation, and many other resources which many other continents can only dream to have.
Sadly, the continent is often nowhere to be found when there is a need to count developed nations in the world.
Bad governance and corruption have remained her bane even as the African people struggle through unmentionable sufferings, miserable poverty, and even death.
To be clear, Africa has not been able to fully harness their potentials and maximise growth owing to the fact that, to date, many countries in the continent have not been able to provide valid solutions to the leadership puzzle that surrounds everything.
A trip down memory lane will show that with the exception of perhaps a few men and women who have taken a shot at true leadership in the continent, Africa has been a complete failure when it comes to leadership over the years.
As if the people are under what seems like a spell, making the right choices when it comes to leaders have proven to be a herculean task.
Africa has enthroned leaders such as Paul Biya, Robert Mugabe, Jacob Zuma, Laurent Gbagbo, Sani Abacha, Samuel Doe, Mobutu Sese Seko Yoweri Museveni, and of course, Muhammadu Buhari who share many things in common, but not competence.
These leaders are all notorious for all being power drunk and greedy, and this clearly explains why holding or attempting to hold power tightly has been their pastime. Painfully, their penchant for power and the accompanying desperation while seeking it has not in any way bettered the continent. Only their families and cronies have been the beneficiaries of their hold on power, and most of the time, they don’t even give a hoot about it.
The economies of many countries in the continent have been rendered useless by politics of greed and many of them now hang in the balance between underdevelopment and excruciating poverty. It is rather surprising that some romantic economists once in a while go on to determine that some economies in Africa are growing at higher rates, whereas the realities on the ground speak volumes of social backwardness and misery.
The current President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari is a very typical example of what leadership has turned to in Africa. Buhari, a former military dictator, prior to becoming President, had contested on three separate occasions like a man with big dreams he didn’t want to die with. He sold Nigerians utopian dreams and most of them fell for it.
Today, Buhari has not only failed abysmally, but has plunged the country into an unprecedented mess that will take decades of conscious leadership to fix.
In just seven years, he has dwarfed the failures of most of his predecessors, raised the cold bars of ineptitude, and introduced intimidating levels of sheer callousness to leadership.
Nigerians now face a dangerous level of insecurity, biting poverty amidst widespread corruption. With Buhari at the helm, the purported giant of Africa is now crippled and unable to move by any inch.
Buhari is not alone in the malady, presently, President Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo of Equatorial Guinea, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Biya of Cameroon, and a whole lot of others are all doing their best to outdo each other as far as bad performances and dictatorship are concerned. These leaders simply sit tight in power without making any meaningful effort to find solutions to the myriad of problems facing the people they govern.
Biya of Cameroon’s dictatorial tendencies have remained on the rise the more he advances in age. At almost 90, even old age and its supposed wisdom hasn’t made him care about what becomes of the welfare of the poor people of the country. As an expert in the secret elimination of political opponents, he has consolidated power so much so that no one will dare contemplate his ousting. Every now and then, he plays on the intelligence of the people by conducting mock elections that already have predetermined outcomes.
He is easily one of the most corrupt leaders in Africa today and he doesn’t appear to have plans of changing while he still lives.
In Uganda, the story is the same. President Yoweri Museveni who obviously loves suits and hats more than anything else is undoubtedly the very opposite of the man he claims to be.
He has been at the helm of affairs in the country since he took power almost 40 years ago, and is the only President a greater percentage of Ugandans have ever known.
He treats the East African country as his personal property which he paid for in full. Under his rulership, the citizens of the country have continued to suffer the pains of bad leadership and have yet been forced to put up a smile or face the wrath of the demigod.
The stories in Equatorial Guinea, Togo, and a host of African countries are not different, so why retell a sad and unfortunate tale of hopelessness over and over again?
The bottom line is that as far as leadership is concerned, Africa appears to have been cursed or under a spell.
Regardless of this fact, only Africans can save Africa. Africa’s help will not come from Europe, America, or Asia. In fact, looking for help from those places will further compound the problems because they had a hand in creating these problems.
Thankfully, there seems to be a new wave of young politicians and activists who are fearlessly challenging the older generation across Africa. This seems like a seismic shift raging on the continent and from every indication, they seem determined to change the lives of hundreds of millions of people in very dramatic ways by doing things differently. The recent elections in Lesotho, Kenya, and Zambia are all positive pointers. However, young people in Africa must do more to stand a chance of repositioning the continent to where it ought to stand among the comity of nations and continents.