Ezekwesili, others urge African leaders to tackle poverty on the continent
AFRICAN leaders have been urged to tackle the issues of poverty and youths unemployment in the region. Oby Ezekwesili, senior economic adviser, Economic Development Policy Initiative, AEDPI, and former minister of Education, said Africa would face greater challenges in the nearest future if it failed to tackle poverty and youths unemployment.
Speaking at the fifth anniversary lecture of Realnews in Lagos on Thursday, November 16, as the guest lecturer, she said about 80 percent of the youth population in the continent annually are yearning for gainful employment. Ezekwesili, who spoke on the topic ‘African Leadership in a Turbulent Era,’ said despite economic growth of the continent, its economy was stocked. “The continent has unemployment crisis. More than 50 percent is poor. Worrisomely, 60 percent of the poor are women.
“Although Africa has made some progress in politics, the continent is still backward in terms of economic development. We should be more than three times this level we are now. No country has been found to develop without good governance. Good governance provides improved living condition. Africa needs leadership that is accountable,” she said.
On his part as discussant, Ahmed Kuru, managing director, Assets Management Company of Nigeria, AMCON, said the continent, especially Nigeria, is not lacking in human capacity but the conspiracy of the elite would not allow the human capacity to be developed. He said unless the continent works towards building institutions, it would continue to suffer.
For instance, he made reference to situation in the banking industry where people, especially the elite, hardly pay back their loans and yet they are given somewhat endless facilities to get more. “What Nigeria and Africa at large is suffering today
is impunity. There are lots of credits not performing in the banking sector today and only 20 percent of the loans are repaid; yet the banks will tell you that they are doing very well and declare big profits,” he said.
Another discussant, Maikanti Baru, group managing director, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, who was represented by Siky Aliyu, managing director, National Engineering and Technical Company, NETC, said recurring security challenges in the Niger Delta, volatility of crude oil prices occasioned by supply glut or global economic ebb were some of the challenges facing the oil and gas sector. He said in each of the challenges, the effectiveness of the managers of the sector would be tested on the extent to which he/she could cut deals.
“In a turbulent era of low crude oil prices, the effectiveness of the manager is tasked by his or her ability to rapidly review the company’s business models, with a view to reining in on the company’s costs. It also involves the manager taking proactive approach in engaging other crude oil producers to stem production as was the case that played out late and early this year when crude oil prices were lowest.
“It will be deceptive to think that navigating the turbulence era on the oil and gas industry starts and ends with providing effective leadership alone. Responsible followership, I reckon, could also be part of the solution, if not the panacea,” he said. REALNEWSMAGAZINE