14 December 2017

West Africa: "Ecowas Cannot Afford Another Crisis in Liberia"

Photo: Boakai Fofana/AllAfrica
Poll workers check the details of a voter (file photo).

Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has emphatically said that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) is not prepared to intervene in another crisis in Liberia should there be one, urging Liberians to stay true to the tenets of democracy.

Ghana is one of the well respected members of the regional body and this strong warning comes at a time when Liberia is yet to reach a conclusion of its electoral process, which was allegedly marred by gross irregularities and probable fraud. Liberia has the unwanted tag of problem-child in the region as neighbors had to intervene on two separate occasions in the civil crises that gripped the nation for nearly 15 years. In these instances, Nigeria and Ghana have always led the intervention processes.

But the Ghanaian President indicated that "West Africa is not prepared to contemplate the scenario of Liberia sliding back into instability and conflict."

As the key speaker at the 98th Commencement Convocation exercises of the University of Liberia, President Akufo-Addo said ECOWAS has over the years made a huge investment in promoting peace in Liberia, and "we will do all we can to ensure that democracy is entrenched in the country, but we will not accept any other outcome."

The eloquent Ghanaian leader indicated that the December 7 ruling of the Supreme Court of Liberia is to ensure that the country will have its first peaceful handover of power from one democratically elected leader to another in 73 years.

He said Liberians have done a lot to stabilize the country, and there should be no turning back.

President Addo: "The work undertaken by President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in stabilizing the country after a bitter and protracted civil war, has been very solid and commendable. I am anticipating that at the end of the day, Liberia's institutions, particularly the Supreme Court and the Electoral Commission, will be up to the task and shepherd the country through a successful transition."

UL's 2017 Commencement exercises are the last for Pres. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's administration

President Akufo-Addo said it is not just enough to hold successful elections every six years or to be able to criticize the government and to have a choice of 100 radio stations. Democracy, he noted, "must ensure that we are able to provide our people with a good quality of life."

Colonial Economic Structures Impediment to Africa's Growth and Development

The learned Ghanaian leader stated that though the underdeveloped state of the continent can be attributed to many factors, the economic policies and structures bequeathed upon Africans by colonialism stand at the core of the African tragedy.

"The structure of economies bequeathed to us by colonialism was dependent on the production and export of raw materials. Even though Liberia was not colonized, the structure of her economy remains very much the same as the others on the continent. Such economies cannot create opportunities, prosperity and wealth for our people," he said.

He said it is no longer time for raw materials to be shipped out of Africa to other parts of the world--a situation that denies the continent better dividends.

"It is rather the time for the richest continent, our Africa, to export made products on the world market, rather than exporting raw materials."

Time is long overdue for Africa, President Akufo-Addo stressed, to transform the structure of African economies to serve better the needs of the African peoples. "Too many of our peoples are still kept down by extreme poverty. The promise of prosperity that was to accompany freedom has not materialized for the mass of the African peoples, and has rather been replaced with widespread despondency across the continent. This is not what our forebears promised," he said.

President Akufo-Addo, therefore, urged "the current generation" of African youths to meet today's challenges by helping to banish the disgraceful specter of young Africans, taking harrowing risks in trekking the Sahara Desert or drowning in the Mediterranean, while seeking greener pastures in Europe.

"Your generation has to ensure the fulfillment of the statement, made almost 70 years ago in 1949 to the Gold Coast Legislative Assembly by Joseph Boakye Danquah, the father of modern Ghanaian nationalism, that 'the two things go together, economic freedom and political freedom. And we must have the two together in this very age, and in the shortest possible time.'"

A Need for New Breed of African Leaders

President Akufo-Addo also stated that there is a need for a paradigm shift in the leadership structure of the continent, therefore "We now need leaders who are committed to governing their peoples according to the rule of law, respect for individual liberties, human rights, the principles of democratic accountability and social justice; leaders who are looking past commodities to position their countries in the global marketplace."

The Ghanaian President also called for "leaders who are determined to free their peoples from a mindset of dependence, aid, charity and hand-outs; leaders who are bent on mobilizing Africa's own immeasurable resources to resolve Africa's problems; leaders, who recognize the connectivity of their peoples and economies to those of their neighbors." This new generation of African leaders, Addo added, "Should help bring dignity and prosperity to our continent and its longsuffering peoples."

"Africa needs leaders who are committed to govern their people in accordance with the rule of law, respect for individual liberty, human rights, principle of democratic accountability and social justice."

He said Africans have suffered too much from bad governance; and as such, it is time for a new breed of leaders who have the desire and commitment to provide a life of quality for the people.

The Ghanaian President said the people of Africa cannot continue to live in abject poverty, emphasizing the need for more to be done to change their condition.

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