What Africa needs to drive her development is not foreign aid but opportunities for the people to make money on their own, President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, has said.
To him, if the continent must develop, the countries should create the enabling environment for business to thrive. The citizens must also be supported to become self-reliant.
Kagame spoke at the opening of the 56th annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) in Port Harcourt.
The Rwanda’s president, who was represented by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Busingye Johnson, stressed the need for African countries to make spirited efforts to tackle their challenges to be on the path of real development.
He said the 1994 genocide which claimed over one million lives almost ruined his country’s economy, but his administration was not dispirited.
Kagame said after the genocide, the citizens immediately resolved to rebuild Rwanda. His government was able to overcome the economic and infrastructural challenges, and had sustained eight per cent annual economic growth in the past nine years.
Urging Africans to make their fortunes, he said 2020 would be the last year the people of Rwanda would wear fairly used shoes and clothes. “No more second-hand shoes and clothing in Rwanda by 2020. Why should Nigerians wear second-hand shoes? This is the time for us to change Africa. If we don’t do it, the Europeans will not do it. They can’t change Africa.”
The NBA warned that Nigeria’s democracy would be endangered if the prevailing economic challenges are not expeditiously addressed.
The association urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria and the National Judicial Council (NJC) to probe the conflicting court judgments on the crisis rocking the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
NBA president, Augustine Alegeh, observed that the present economic challenge confronting the country has made it impossible for over 28 out of the 36 states to pay salaries. He said the situation remained a threat to the sustenance of democracy.
“It is time to interrogate the problems. If our fortunes continue to decline, can we afford to continue to remain as a nation? We need to look at the problems and proffer solutions.
“Panels were set up to look at the problems from several perspectives, including diversification and sharing of the little that we have. Are we sharing it correctly? Is the amorphous centre taking too much to the detriment of the federation states? Is the 13 per cent derivation too much or too little?” he asked.
According to him, “the time has come when we can no longer sweep under the carpet the challenges facing us as a nation. As an association in a country grounded by corruption, we cannot but talk about corruption and examine if the government of today is able to make the change.
“We must examine whether the President Muhammadu Buhari administration is moving forward or stagnating in the war against corruption.”
Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike said Nigeria, like several other countries, had accepted the ideal of democracy.
“However, after 17 years of experimentation, can we truly say that Nigeria’s economy has prospered under our constitutional democracy? My answer, which I believe, is shared by most of you, is a straight no. Most of the citizens hold the view that Nigeria is lagging far behind despite the huge human and material resources at its disposal,” he said.
The governor urged members of the NBA to protect the country’s democracy from being destroyed by “leaders who hold the system in contempt, using the people’s voices, the law and the justice system as basic tools.”