LAGOS—FORMER Ghanaian Vice President and global speaker on leadership change, Mr Nana Akufo-Addo has attributed the inability of Africa to attain a proper place in the comity of continents to leadership failure.
Speaking at the Verdant Zeal 3rd Innovation Leadership Series in Lagos, yesterday, with theme ‘’Growing Leadership Innovation: Lessons for Africa’’, Akufo-Addo traced many of Africa’s problems to the hangover of colonialism, the continent’s failures to bad leadership.
Corroborating Akufo-Addo, Chairman of the event and former Minister of National Planning, Mr Shamsudeen Usman, said all hope was not lost in Nigeria if we focus on building strong institutions that will tackle accountability and corruption.
He said: ‘’I think this has to do with the weakness of the institutions and we should focus on building those institutions and with time, we will get there”.
Further, the Ghanaian leader maintained that the challenge Africa now face is how to make democratic governance deliver on the promises of prosperity and individual freedoms.
His words: ‘’It has been more than 50 years since we attained political independence, but our hopes for prosperity and attaining a proper place among the comity of nations remain unfulfilled while the long years of military adventurism in our politics have not helped.
The belief that there are shortcuts to finding solutions to our problems has certainly not helped either. It is a great relief that finally a consensus has emerged that the best way to govern ourselves is through multi-party democratic governance.
‘’The focus of leadership has and should always be geared towards the provision of a better future. Effective leaders are necessary innovators. As one writer puts it, ‘today’s successful leaders will be those who have innovative of mind – with the ability to embrace new ideas and routinely challenge old ones.’’’
He said further: ‘’There are many development challenges ahead for Africa and the World Bank rightly identifies these problems as un-diversified production structures, huge infrastructural deficits, underdeveloped human capital, weak governance, fragile states, and need for women and youths empowerment’.
Proffering solutions to various problems faced by Africa countries, the two time Ghanaian vice president explained that African leaders must achieve their potentials through innovative leadership.
He said: ‘’To be able to make that breakthrough and move from having potential to achieving this potential, we need innovative leadership that can deliver opportunities and prosperity to Africa’s long-suffering peoples.
We all now have a pretty good idea about the things that hold us back from making rapid progress but our economies are not structured to meet the needs and provide opportunities for our people. What Africa needs above all is value addition and this starts with adding value to our human capital through an education system that provides every child with the skills to realise his or her full potential.
He however maintained that Nigeria must provide the political leadership and passion to translate the ECOWAS dream into reality, saying: ‘’It might seem to you in Nigeria that with your oil you are operating in a larger world market already and do not need the region.
Nigeria should focus on building institutions –Usman
In his submission, Shamsudeen Usman said the theme of the event represents excellence, professionalism and Nigeria’s potentials and how to realiSe them.
“I have been concerned especially in the last five years as Minister of National Planning about the future of this country. Some of us, in the past, took exams and passed, there was no question of examination malpractice during our days. If you are going to write exams, you will prepare for it to pass, this is what Nigeria used to be.
“Some of us have not lost hope, I believe that it is possible. In the past, we believed leadership is all about economics, we were just focusing on economics then but after my eight years at the Central Bank of Nigeria and about five as Minister, unfortunately, I changed my mind.
I now see it is all about politics. Unless you get the politics right, the economics will never work. What this has shown is that at the end of the day, it is all about leadership and that is why the theme of the event is all about leadership.
We need transformational change — Olugbodi
In his welcome address, Mr Tunji Olugbodi, GMD/CEO of Verdant Zeal, said the innovation series is prompted by the need for transformational change through forward thinking and the call for practical solutions that meet the demands of tomorrow.
He said the world is shifting its scope on Africa from a binocular view to a more dissected one and the burgeoning growth is expected to sprout in the midst of certain parallel aspects: innovation and leadership .
His words: ‘’Having this in mind, all factors must be steered in the direction of developing our potential, harnessing all available resources and translating these into a progressive position and this session should ultimately investigate our present models with results of providing solutions that correct distorted views as well as catalyse fresh thinking and finally grow leadership innovation.
‘’Leadership is a hot topic. Innovation is even hotter these days because it has a vital role to play in the recovery and in shaping the societies of tomorrow. We’ve been very curious about the overlap of these two fascinating subjects to see what happens when you examine the values and behaviours of leaders who are responsible for big innovations that shake the world.
‘’The changes that Africa is now going through do not cease to amaze. It seems only yesterday when Africa was at the bottom of the class in terms of technological innovation – passively accepting whatever new technology it was deemed capable of ‘handling’ and things have changed remarkably since. Africa is now becoming a global trendsetter in the innovative application of technology not in producing faster cars or loud speaker systems but in critical areas such as finance, communication, energy generation, agribusiness and finding home-grown solutions to problems that seemed intractable.’’
He however said that Africa must embrace new thinking to remain dynamic and forward looking.
Other discussants at the event include Executive Chairman, Multichoice South-Africa Group, Mr Nolo Letele; Executive Director Leadership Effectiveness, Accountability and Professionalism, Mrs Iyadunni Olubode; Chairman, Nigerian Economic Summit Group, Mr Folusho Philips; Senior Consultant/CEO of Resources and Trust Company Ltd, Mr. Opeyemi Agbaje and Founder, Rise Network, Miss Toyosi Akerele.
We must improve quality of life — Philips
Also speaking, Mr Folusho Philips said the best way to define innovation is creating increasing convenience and trying to improve quality of life. “To get it right, we must be bold and brave to do something different and I am waiting for a day when we will have leaders that are passionate about the people and the country. There is a lot of confusion because of the financial power that is vested so much on the government.