Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas - Joint Special Representative and Joint Chief Mediator, Darfur
Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Monday, October 28, 2013
Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Joint Special Representative and Joint Chief Mediator for war-torn Darfur, Sudan says Ghana and Africa need both strong institutions and transformational leaders to make the continent better for its people.
The Ghanaian Diplomat said although President Barack Obama of the United States once recommended the strengthening of state institutions for African governments, he would go a step further to push for transformational leadership on the continent.
Dr. Chambas was delivering the 2013 University of Ghana Alumni Lecture under the theme: ‘Governance and leadership’, at the Great Hall of Ghana’s premier university on Thursday night.
The lecture is a collaboration between the university and its Alumni Association who meet annually to celebrate past students who have excelled in their professional fields and it serves as a measure of enhancing the university’s ability to develop and maintain a commitment to excellence.
Dr. Chambas who previously held diplomatic positions including Executive Secretary and later President of ECOWAS Commission (2002-2010) and General Secretary of ACP Group of States (2010-2012) took his time to explain the qualities of a leader and the impact of good governance to the packed audience made up mostly of the academia.
He also delivered his speech with a touch of nostalgia, often recounting how he, together with others handled the students front during his campus days.
Dr. Chambas said that the myriad of problems facing the continent was due to the absence of effective leadership and the lack of respect for institutions of state.
He said that a leader should possess qualities including character, vision to be able to project possibilities, should be passionate, selfless incorruptible and public spirited, ready to learn and must have a mastery over his/her work.
He said that some leaders are born with it while in others it is a learning process and struck the distinction between a leader and a manager saying “leaders do the right thing while managers do things right.”
Dr. Chambas said that it has become imperative for African leaders to demonstrate commitment to good governance by reducing poverty and unemployment on the continent.
He said that said the continent required transformational leaders who will be committed to implementing well researched and statistically-based ideas that address key challenges facing the continent.
“A new culture of decision making and policy making based on concrete facts and established statistical basis should be ingrained in our students from early on," he emphasized.
He said even though Africa was once touted as the break basket of the world but events over the years have proved that “we are incapable of living up to expectation and it is all due to the lack of effective leadership.”
He said African leaders have a duty to do more to reduce the high incidence of unemployment, abject poverty, diseases, lack of health amenities, poor educational facilities and other limited infrastructural development.
He said daily reports about Africans struggling to reach Europe and other continents by any means possible for a better life due to economic hardships on the continent should never excite anybody and believed that African governments have the capacity to do better for their people.
“Many Africans are still awaiting the dividends of democracy…Africa’s democracy has evolved but the people are still trapped in the cycle of abject poverty.”
He said that there should be the development of norms aimed at improving the governance landscape on the continent and also the strengthening of state institutions to ensure compliance of the norms.
Dr. Chambas acknowledged that the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) spearheaded by the African Union as well as other development interventions had come to reshape governance structures of various countries and there appear to be competition among African countries over issues of governance.
He also said that ECOWAS and other regional bodies were helping to make the continent better for the people but added that “there is still a long way to go.”
He said in the past few years, ECOWAS made several interventions that were aimed at promoting democracy and good governance and added that “ECOWAS should be about creating a borderless West Africa and not about summits and conferences.”
He urged the Ghana government not to allow the newly-found to become a resource curse like it happened in many countries but tasked the leadership to ensure equitable distribution of the resources.
He warned that no country had been able to sustain in the face of widespread poverty and despondency of the people and urged African governments to mend their ways without delay.
He said the revolution in the Arab world should be a lesson for all African leaders.
Dr. Chambas said that even though Ghana is regarded as a pacesetter of democracy on the continent, recent electoral dispute that ended up in court show that “we should develop credible election case management.”
He said cutting down the high unemployment rate should be a priority for all governments since the poverty gap was widening.
Dr. Chambas said that tackling corruption and setting up public accountability system was critical for accelerated development and added his voice to the call for the participation of more women in governance.
He also said the time has come for universities and other tertiary institutions to lead the way with innovative research into problems affecting the continent and called on African leaders to end to the phenomenon of quickly coming out with projects but fail woefully in their execution or implementation.
He said energy, environment and food security should be vigorously pursued and also intensify the regional integration process.
Professor Ernest Aryeetey, Vice Chancellor who chaired the function underscored the need for Africans to use the mastery of governance to make the continent better for the people.
Paa Kwesi Yankah, Chairman, University of Ghana Alumni said the evidence of numerous developmental challenges on the continent reiterate the point that “Africa still has a problem in good governance and leadership.