Libya Tribune

By Josephus Moses Gra

Why Africa, a continent blessed abundantly with natural resources and excessive value of human capital is yet to find its rightful place in world politics?

Africa is very rich with natural possessions such as fertile soil, enough rain and sunshine for cultivation, raw materials, oil, gas, gold and many other major resources, but corruption and bad governances are the major reasons for the visible miserable poverty, unmanageable sufferings and deaths on the continent.

The continent oil’s high quality makes it relatively inexpensive to refine; but most Africans are seeing little benefit from this influx of oil drillers and investment; in fact they are often hurt by exports of their countries’ oil and other riches.

For instance, between 1970 and 1990, countries without oil saw their economies grow five times faster than those of countries with high quality of oil. A classic example is Equatorial Guinea and Gabon, these two neighboring countries with abundant of oil and riches are rated among the poorly nations. This is directly due to abuse of riches by the corrupt elites, politicians and foreign capitalists.

Nowadays, bad leadership and rampant corruption are killing Africa’s progress while the greater number of the continent’s population lives on less than one United States dollar a day.

The population in most cases is suppressed by their leaders, the autocratic means that keep these corrupt political bureaucrats in the hands of power. But two important groups that have the influence to change the situation for the best are the media and civil society institutions. It is in this regards that the aim of this research paper is to analyze how a robust media and civil society are the ways to enhance democratic governance on the continent

A robust mass media and a vigorous active civil society are two important ingredients in a strong and healthy democracy that can curtail corruption from the society even without the political backbones. Without free media and an active civil society, there is space for enormous and unchecked political power leading to corruption and anti-democratic behavior by government officials.

This review presents evidence to suggest that independent media play a critical role in improving governance and reducing corruption, increasing economic efficiency and stability, and creating positive social and environmental change.

Corruption is not a new phenomenon to the African continent and its huge populations, it has been eating up every sphere of the continent especially corruption prone states in Africa; not to mention ours which is 169- year old. This unethical practice has grown even larger to an extent it is not only hampering development and growth on the continent but it is also hunting men and women of honesty and integrity who have made it their lifetime duty to blow loud whistles against it.

Unlike other continents, in Africa corruption is being fought or dealt with through rhetoric-with judges and law enforcement personnel being opened to bribery to compromise cases, even when there is a strong and visible evidence and fact; this fight on the continent doesn’t come with sincerity, commitment and loyalty.

Corruption appears to be the daily practice across majority of the African countries as it widely carry out and visible in the system, it is also eating up the fabric of other sectors including political institutions, schools, civil society organizations, Banks, the media, police, national and international NGOs, commercial drivers, business sector, sporting groups, churches and mosques, and banking institutions.

In this article, Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, South Sudan, Kenya and Equatorial Guinean and Liberia are being used as a case study for several reasons.

In the case of Liberia the oldest African Republic, the second Black Country in the world to declare its independence and first on the continent to elect a female President, first to produce a female President of the World Parliament (United Nations General Assembly) and the only African state to produce World Best Footballer.

On the flop side, Liberia is the only state of the 193 UN Member States that uses two unconnected national currencies and the United States Dollar concomitantly.

History tells us that no matter how great a nation is, if the citizens of the nation and other nations began to lose faith in their leaders, that government or leadership could eventually fail as others around the world have in the past. No matter what the leadership’s moral or ethical makeup is, without the regime willing to address the welfare of its people and demonstrate good governance values, the government will collapse.

It’s hardly possible to accept that Africa either Liberia is poor; the continent is abundantly rich but why the continent is clustered at or near the bottom of the United Nations Human Development Index. Poverty can have a devastating effect, such as lack of food, improper health care; homelessness and lack of jobs all play a role in the effects of poverty, but top of these is the curse of bad governances, abused of national wealth and widespread corruption.

In this research article, the focus will be on two issues that are responsible for the backwardness of states on the African continent, compared to the rest of the other continents. A recorded number of people die each day on the African continent due purposely to extreme poverty.

According to several findings from various studies, 14% of children in Sub Saharan African countries alone are estimated to be underweight, out of 28% of children who are underweight in all poorer nations of the world (Sotho, Why Africa is Poor, June 20, 2006.).

Majority of the crises across the African continent are direct result of the struggles for oil wealth or opposition against exclusion from resources and bad governances. The continent experienced dozen of vicious wars in several countries including the Nigeria’s Biafra war, the rebels’ war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formally Zaire), Angola, Uganda, Somalia, Ethiopian-Eritrea war, Rwanda war between the Hutu and the Tutsi, Senegal-Casamance Region, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Ivory Coast, Northern and Southern Sudan’s war, Kenya post election violence, Libyan, and now Mali, just to name few.

All these wars were direct results of abused of state resources and national wealth, bad governances, corruption, class system and abused of state power and authority by handful of African leaders and foreign capitalists.

This is clear from the well-known Niger Delta crisis where the struggle by the ethnic minorities for autonomy and resource control has assumed insurgent proportions with frequent attacks on oil and government interests by well-armed militias. Apart from the militias, transnational networks trading in illegal bunkering and small arms are also involved in the struggles for oil in the Niger Delta.

The present resource-rich African states and political elite may not be able to use the increased revenues from the sale of oil to transform their economies or societies, and would more likely enrich themselves and their patrimonial networks, or seek to entrench themselves in power through forceful means.

In many of Africa’s most oil-rich countries, such as Nigeria, Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Libya, Sudan, the Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Equatorial Guinea, oil, instead of being a blessing for the population, it becomes to some extend curse and produces corruption as an endemic debacle, as oil discovery in Africa automatically leads to corruption menace which gives birth to doom and gloom-driven poverty.

Africa is the world’s poorest inhabited continent and though parts of the continent have made significant gains over the last few years, of the 175 countries reviewed in the United Nations’ Human Development Report 2003,  twenty-five African states and state territories ranked lowest amongst the countries of the world. 

Poor performance is a general concern in Africa, and is mostly explained by the persistence of inefficient markets, corruption, poor institutions, low government intervention as well as insecure property rights.

The major cause for the failures of the African continent on the global stage can be attributed to lack of socioeconomic development, bad leadership and rampant corruption.

A research conducted over the past decade in 49 of the 53 countries on the continent, African leaders have miserably failed to convert freedom from colonial power to the popular beliefs of democracy and liberty. They have been unsuccessful in building capacities for the people to engage in meaningful economic and social development.

Whenever power is handed over to an African leader either through a democratic process or autocratic means, he individual takes advantage of the people by enriching themselves and family while a greater number of the population continues to live in abject poverty.

Let me quote the words of President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia: “Africa is not poor; it is poorly managed”.

to be continued

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Josephus Moses Gray, Contributing Writer.

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