It is indeed change that brings about the ultimate transformation we yearn to see in our society. We cannot play with the lion and expect it to have no supper. If truly we want change, we need to know that the lion can tear us apart. We are very aware of how much corruption affects us but we adamantly endorse this ill habit of expecting others to be the answers to our enormous problems, and frankly, majority of those problems is created by us.
One of the major leaders who preached change and lived it was Kofi Annan. He describes corruption as a disease which can only be cured by transparency, and included the fact that corruption undermines morality, democracy and rule of law. To many, when corruption favors us it’s called connections or links. “Links” or “Connections” coined to signify gaining undue favour because the individual knew someone who could get things done or someone who was willing to bend the rules for them. The idea of being aided by individuals you know when you shouldn’t looks like a norm but corruption subtly perpetuated. To make it seem more appropriate we just call it what it’s not – connections.
THE WAY FORWARD
What then is the way forward? If Africa can develop, it will take more than just a decision. Taking a firm decision and taking the required action produces results. If Africa will develop then we need men and women who are strong in mind and are willing to suffer and sacrifice relentlessly for this to happen.
THE AFRICAN NEEDS A RENEWED MIND
The first thing that Africa needs to recognize is that, there’s a problem fundamentally. Africans also need to realize that it will take time for the change they want to manifest. Rome wasn’t built in a day neither is Rwanda being built in a day.
The usual song African’s sing during elections is, “I don’t believe there can ever be change” or “I don’t trust any political party”. Sometimes this translates in appalling and some serious decline in voter turn-out. When electorates don’t vote, they give others the power to choose leaders who might be very incompetent and push the country to more ruin. We have the power to vote out whoever-whenever. If we don’t make uncomfortable decisions today, generations will come and still meet this impoverished Africa with unconcerned citizens, greedy politicians and failed or struggling institutions and systems. We need to risk our comfort in order to reach the required destination.
Slow progress is better than no progress. Seasons of discomfort don’t necessarily produce results all the time but for us to linger on no hope is a tragedy. There’s hope, that’s why we’re still surviving. When we stand together discomfort doesn’t look like chaos.
One major problem that deters Africa from growth is the mindset of its people. It is true that sometime ago, the white man was our “god”. He ruled, directed and managed the affairs of the African people. However, colonization isn’t the reason for our impeded development. This happened four hundred years ago but many still dwell on that. We obviously need to learn from that, but many continuously use that as an excuse- a flimsy one. The slavery mentality has killed dreams and many prospective ideas that could’ve developed Africa. We don’t need anyone to do it for us because we are very aware of our problems. Let’s solve it!
Pay Your Tax
According to the International Monetary Fund (I.M.F), no country is immune to corruption. Their chart analyzes over 180 countries and finds that more corrupt countries collect fewer taxes, as people pay bribes to avoid them, including through tax loopholes designed exchange for kickbacks. In 2018, Ghana Revenue Authority, a Ghanaian institution responsible for the supervision and collection of taxes went on a journey to demand unpaid taxes from business owners and institutions in the country. It was an eye saw. People had 10 year old unpaid taxes. Some had never paid any tax. As the President of the country indicated in his speech during his inauguration, citizens don’t have to be spectators. Citizens have to be proactive in order for us to see development.
The first antidote to corruption is more than just transparency for the African man and woman. In order to see a community and a country/continent with reduced rates of corruption, we’d need citizens to be well informed of their rights and responsibilities. Knowledge of ones individual rights makes the individual aware when it’s being infringed upon. Ask the average African his/her own rights and they’d have no idea. If you don’t know your rights, you don’t know your power. Many Africans shirk their responsibilities because they are unaware of it, but well, ignorance of the law is no excuse. To them, it the government’s responsibility to do all things rather than theirs(when they should take charge and proactively see it that there’s change), besides why were they voted into power in the first place. If the government cannot solve all problems, then it needs to be voted out.
The Educational System Needs To Be Holistic.
Ghana’s Minister of Education, Mathew Opoku Prempeh, has called for an immediate change in curriculum used by schools. In fact, I must say, this is definitely timely. The education system in my country unfortunately isn’t as holistic as it’s supposed to be. Students graduate but remain unemployed for a long time. There’s no system to prepare them and sometimes graduates are unemployed because they have no prior practical knowledge or skills in their field of study. In the long run, universities churn out graduates who have no skills in their fields of study nor entrepreneurial skills that could help them start something on their own.
Africa needs a change in its educations system. Many don’t stay in their countries to further their education.. They travel to well developed countries to do so. Ask the average African their dream school and they’d never mention any African school especially universities. Nigerians, South Africans, Zimbabweans, Kenyans, travel to school at sometimes ten times the price they could’ve paid in their country.
Patriotism and Willingness To Serve
Those who have the opportunity to use their skills to help the country end up leaving because they are offered very little for doing so much. They are not ready to negotiate their talents, skills and ideas especially anything below what think they deserve. These individuals leave to developed countries and some never come back. This affects our development so much. Students or individuals need to be socialized to be more patriotic which will then give them the urgency to serve their countries. Readiness to serve brings us closer to fulfilling our ambition/ dreams. Sometimes, indirectly. Let us have people who don’t have to be coaxed to serve but see the need to and do it with the soul aim of making their countries and citizens a better one.
Leaders should be made accountable, responsible and transparent; these should not be left to chance. When we leave leader’s to do as they deem fit, they become autonomous and wield power in a way that affects us diverse ways. Politics is an important part of our social contract. We cannot do away with it. When citizens are educated and a sense of patriotism is instilled in them, they scrutinize leaders carefully before they endorse and vote them in or out (even when they are politically affiliated to their parties). They also know that any leader who is voted in can be voted out when they shirk their responsibilities and break the laws of the land.
Working Institutions and Systems In The country
Who controls these institutions? Us. Who makes the decisions in these institutions? We do. We need to build strong people and institutions. Institutions need to work. A country that doesn’t respect institutions signs up for failure. Establishing credible and long lasting institutions with competed people to run it, aids development.
For instance; the judiciary, an executive arm of government responsible for the ivnterpretation of the constitution, needs to prosecute law breakers without any political interference.
This also means, the procurement division needs to ensure that there’s no breech in procurement regulations. Generally, it is our responsibility to work assiduously towards the ultimate goal. Development won’t happen by magic. We tend to consistently compare Africa to other developing continents or countries. This is the vague approach citizens adopt to lure politicians to do better. Things won’t change if we resort to the blame game approach. We’ll only blame everyone else but ourselves and end up solving no problems.
What do we do then?. We need to be steadfast and work tirelessly to see the transformation we want to see. We can’t allow any one do this ,but ourselves.