For many African leaders, being in government means access to the cookie jar and having a strong conduit pipe for the mismanagement of public resources. The docility of the populace and the lack of strong institutions have simply ensured that political commitment to good governance and transparency is nonexistent in such environments and this has left the continent retrogressive and stunted.
Despite being one of the most endowed continents in terms of natural resources, Africa remains bottom in virtually every development index owing to poor leadership. Corruption and an untamed culture of waste and an absence of transparency have ensured that Africa remains a negative example for many reasons. Corruption most especially has risen to become the undeclared pandemic ravaging several countries on the continent and threatening her collective survival. The damage that high-level and systemic corruption inflicts has managed to inflict on struggling African economies is one that has become too pronounced that it is now becoming a way of life. The illicit activities of elected officials, bureaucrats, and industry leaders have made it practically impossible for most countries to deliver the most basic services to their citizens.
For African leaders, running reckless governments, wickedly abusing power, living flamboyant lifestyles, buying needless mansions overseas, going out of their way to open offshore accounts, sending their children to expensive schools overseas, building mansions at hometowns, and more is nothing but a way of life that must be sustained through the mindless looting of the common patrimony of the people. The tragedy with Africa is that politics is seen as the fastest and easiest means of getting rich. It is only in Africa that people roll out drums to celebrate political appointments with so much joy and anticipation, not as a call to service to humanity but as a rare call to steal from humanity. The dreams of most political leaders for the advancement of their countries soon become expired when power and money get in the way.
The truth remains that the politics of greed has rendered the economies of many African countries hanging in the balance between underdevelopment and poverty. One wonders how romantic economists often go all the way to conclude that African economies are growing at higher rates when the realities on the ground speak volumes of misery and social backwardness. African leaders have continuously made frantic efforts to erase any doubts about their disdain for the citizens whom they govern, sometime, even against their wishes.
A large chunk of African leaders are despotic and only practice democracy half-heartedly. They have mastered the art of deploying weapons of oppression to suppress their own people just to make sure that their control of the resources for themselves and their families remains unfettered and unchallenged. A careful look at their wicked mind will show that they actually believe that education liberates people and can make it easy to challenge their authority on economic mismanagement and self-aggrandizement, hence some of them if not most of them directly or indirectly promote illiteracy, by appropriating and releasing paltry sums of money for education and health in their annual budgets. This does not happen by coincidence. In Nigeria for example, the education and health budget combined at the federal government level in the last decade is less than N10 Trillion Naira, an amount which is nothing compared to what the government has wasted on a criminal subsidy scheme in just two years. These leaders are very much aware that massive human capital development can unleash rapid economic development but they show less concern because it will not be of any benefit to them for any reason.
It is sad to come to the realisation that a country like Dubai with less mineral resource endowment and with a small population has managed to become the envy of the world for her rapid pace of development in all aspects of her national life. When juxtaposed with the fact that most African countries have enormous mineral wealth and are larger in size than Dubai, one can only weep for the continent. The big question here, therefore is, how come Dubai is ahead of most African countries in virtually all aspects of development? The principal answer is good leadership and an ability to contain and fight of corruption with strong institutions.
One doesn’t need to look so deeply into African public service to see the rot, some heads of major public institutions are guilty of perpetuating corrupt practices as the leaders themselves. As enablers of the system of exploitation by the political leadership, these top officials help themselves in the process of corruption. In such a situation, the President in such a country will find it difficult to take decisive actions on corruption because birds of the same feather fly together and eat together. They carry the looting of the wealth of the nation on their foreheads and lifestyles and one can only wonder if indeed there is any hope for Africa.
The kind of bloated government being administered in Africa will leave anyone with a working conscience in tears. Many countries in the continent such as Nigeria, Kenya, Cameroon, Togo, etc have between 35-60 ministries whereas a giant economy like Japan has less than 20 ministries and is doing way better than any country in Africa in terms of human development. To even think that most of these ministries have ministers, assistant ministers, permanent secretaries, and heads of departments with each allocated government vehicle where fuel and maintenance drivers are wasted will leave one wondering if Africa was under a spell of some sort.
African leaders are constantly in search of ways of wasting and frittering away public funds on a daily basis. When they are not on their way to Europe for useless political meetings, they will be in North America for medical tourism or vacation. For them, these funds must be wasted by all means even while over 50% of the population of their citizens are living in the worst poverty ever known to mankind.
Finally, the ruling class in Africa must understand that while they mindlessly continue to hijack the collective interest and well-being of the people they govern for their selfish interest and lust for wealth and self-aggrandizement, they must also prepare their minds for revenge by people who they have made poor which will come sooner than later through some rude awakening. Governments can no longer continue to mandate their ordinary citizens to bite the bullet whilst they continue to live their wicked profligate lifestyles. No, it cannot continue to be so! Ordinary citizens should not continue to make sacrifices for those who don’t pay for utilities to enjoy and enrich themselves.