2017 UONGOZI INSTITUTE ESSAY COMPETITION FOR YOUNG AFRICANS
TOPIC: IF YOU WERE A LEADER, WHAT WOULD YOU DO TO ENSURE THAT PEACE AND SECURITY IS ACHIEVED AND SUSTAINED IN AFRICA?
AUTHOR: AKINPELU, YUSUF OLAJUWON
AGE: 22 YEARS
PHONE CONTACTS: +2349032788612 & +2348098790120
GMAIL ADDRESSS: AKINPELUYUSUF20@GMAIL.COM
It is true that the weight of sanity of every society is measured on the scale of its security. And this scale is the sole determinant of the well being of its people in all realms. A peaceful society is a haven to both foreign and local investors, it is a hotbed for educational advancement, it is a breeding ground for stable leadership. It is also the metaphoric wing on which its people soar. In the bid to show this, security has been described as all measures or “safety of a state or organization against criminal activity such as terrorism, theft or espionage” So, this goes to show that for a better and secured Africa to exist, the smoldering ember of insecurity in the continent must be extinguished with torrent of security and peace.
It is also true that success in governance is not always measured by the stint in power, what is spent or what is amassed from the treasury of the nation but rather, by the wellbeing of the populace, their safety and freedom from fear and the general security of lives and properties. Therefore, if sometimes someday providence adorned me with the garb of fortune and I ever had the chance to lead the most populous black nation in the universe, I would, as a matter of urgency, dive into the fountain of opportunity that exists therein by turning this chance into an arsenal of strength for the security of my dear continent.
Indeed, and in fact, the problem befuddling Africa is not just the dearth of peace and security but it is at heart of them all. And because development and good governance cannot thrive in an atmosphere of violence and instability , I would tap into the legal weaponry of the African society to tackle this challenge head-on. For it is the habit of the Yoruba people of Nigeria to remind us that a lawless society is a sinless and flawless society. Premised on this, Article 23, Section 2, Paragraph (b) of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights would be enacted. It reads, “for the purpose of strengthening peace and solidarity and friendly relations, States parties to the present Charter shall ensure that their territories shall not be used as bases for subversive or terrorist activities.” The enactment of this would send stern signal to everyone that insecurity has no base on the African soil. However, the sustenance of this legacy would be the enactment of other parts of this Charter. This would then be tilted towards achieving and sustaining the tripartite necessities: the rule of law, the fundamental human rights, social cohesion and justice.
This would be followed by the revitalization of the security institutions. The population strength of Africa is too large for its Police Force – whose duty is to ensure security of lives and property – to be understaffed. According to the United Nations, it is recommended that there should be one Police Officer for every 450 citizens. Unfortunately, African nations have failed woefully in fulfilling this global security function. Take for instance, Kenya has one security operative for every 1,150, Tanzania one for every 1,298, Ghana one for every 1,200. Not only would I ensure their number prolificacy but also their work proficiency by having them – “them” here includes not only the Police but the Armed Forces, Civil Defense Corp and other military and paramilitary parastatal – well equipped and satisfactorily remunerated. This would be in tandem with the proposition of South African researcher, Solomon Kirunda, who in his report in 2009 cited poor funding as an underbelly to security in Africa and subsequently called for proper funding of security agencies . There would be introduction of intelligence gathering and sharing, surveillance, periodic motivation, modernized training and sophisticated technology that meet global standard to inspire efficiency and patriotism.
Furthermore, attention would be paid to education. This is because there is a strong correlation between education and peacefulness. 12 out of the 20 most peaceful countries on the 2017 Global Peace index as rated by the Institute for Economics and Peace invest heavily in education. While UNESCO recommends that 26% of budgetary allocations be pumped into education, Ghana allocates 23.1%, Benin 15.9%, Cape Verde 13.8% Liberia 12.1% and Nigeria a paltry 6%. So as a matter of paramountcy, heads of states and other African leaders through the African Union would be charged to tailor their budgetary allocations to meet the 26% benchmark of the UNESCO. Also, I would encourage them to incorporate security education into the curriculum of African schools right from elementary stage.
In the words of Mimonides, when you “give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; [when] you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” For this reason, education would not be my sole priority, youth empowerment and poverty alleviation would be given prominence too. At the 2016 Africa Transformation Forum held in Kigali, Rwanda, Kelvin Balogun, President of Coca-Cola, Central, East and West Africa revealed that almost half of the 10 million graduates churned out by the over 668 universities in Africa yearly do not get job. And in fact, according to the International Labour Organization (ILO), youth unemployment index in the continent hovers around 12%. An idle hand, they say, makes work for the devil. So if security must be beefed up in Africa, then youths must be empowered. Hence if I have my way, proliferation of empowerment schemes like N-power and Youth Enterprise with Innovation in Nigeria (YouWin!) both in Nigeria, Pots of Hope in Namibia, Giants of the Future International (GFI) in Ghana, Youth Empowerment Seminar in South Africa would be highly encouraged to furnish young Africans with self-sustainability and personal development.
Need I also say that as an envisioned African-bred leader, I know the African social values of justice and equity to be a potent tool to sustaining peace in Africa? I would encourage – while also ensuring proper monitoring of – the formation local security forces. These forces would be on surveillance at the grassroots. This would be done in conjunction with Traditional Rulers, Village Heads, District Heads and Ward Heads who would in turn be accountable to senior security personnel within their areas. Also, such forces as the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) where military from Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria combined to put an end to the Boko Haram insurgency would be reinforced, polished and encouraged in Somalia, Kenya and other nations plagued by the quagmire of insurgency. This is because when we fight individually, we strive; but together we thrive.
I shall conclude by adding that I would – if chanced to be the leader of Africa – instill a sense of unity in the African nations; because it is only by this can we together fight insecurity. One patent lesson in Ola Rotimi’s classic The Gods Are Not to Blame is the way the people of Kutuje who, though led by Odewale, a foreigner but of their own colour, gained victory by the virtue of their unity. And that is why if I ever get the chance to lead Africa – like Odewale did the “Kutujeans” – my goal would be to reinforce security by planting the seed of unity in African nations. This I would do by identifying and utilizing the prospects of individual African nations. With the economic acuity of South Africans, the numeric capacity of Nigerians, the martial vitality of Egyptians, physical agility of Kenyans, spatial superfluity of Algerians, human developmental reliability of Seychellois and positive peculiarities of other 48 African nations, not only would I strive hard to steer Africa to achieve and sustain peace and security by combining the resourcefulness in Africa I would in fact set a prototype with which others around the globe would view as standard for building a peaceful world.
STATEMENT OF ORIGINALITY AND OWNERSHIP
I, Akinpelu, Yusuf Olajuwon, hereby confirm that the content of the essay I have submitted is my own work and it has not been submitted elsewhere for any other purpose.
I certify that the intellectual property rights for this essay are owned by me and that any information sourced elsewhere has been appropriately acknowledged.
Akínpèlú Yūsuf O.
July 14, 2017,
NB: Here is my entry for 2017 UONGOZI INSTITUTE ESSAY COMPETITION FOR YOUNG AFRICANS.Unfortunately it didn’t clinch the winner’s award. But I belive it a brillinat trial worthy of being shared for your esteemed readership. Enjoy.