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John Dramani Mahama, former President of Ghana

Former Presidents task African leaders on unity, progress

L-R: Former President of Botswana, Lt. Gen.- Khama Ian Khama, Chairman Heritage Times, Moses Siasia, Former President of Ghana, John Mahama

By Rukayat Moisemhe

Lagos, April 15, 2024

Former President of Ghana, John Mahama and Former President of Botswana, Lt. Gen.- Seretse Khama Ian Khama, have urged African leaders to consciously pursue unity and progress.

This, they said would enable the continent reach its full potentials and achieve sustainable economic prosperity.

The former Presidents gave the advice via a communique issued on Monday in Lagos, from a panel session during the second edition of the African Heritage Awards, with theme: “Shaping Africa’s Path to Prosperity”.

Mahama said the advice was pertinent in the wake of political instability that had wrecked parts of Africa, leaving a number of countries relegated to military rule.

He noted that Africa’s youthful population was fast growing, thus, leaders must “move in a fast pace” to provide citizens with the dividends of democracy to achieve self-reliance.

“African countries can foster international cooperation by removing certain encumbrances like visa restrictions, which is slowing down economic prosperity across the continent.

“Our founding fathers had wanted the African continent to come out of independence as one nation, but unfortunately, we lost that opportunity and became 54 different countries, flags, anthems and markets.

“This has constituted trade tariffs and other barriers,” he said.

Mahama, however, admitted that Africa was currently moving towards the right direction with the laid out economic blueprints of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Similarly, former Botswana President, Khama, noted that in spite of the huge amount of human and natural resources domiciled in Africa, the continent had not transited into economic prosperity.

Khama blamed corruption, bad leadership, political and politician instability and failure to put interests of the people first, as drawbacks of the continent.

“We need leaders who are humble enough to understand that their role is simply to be of service to their people.

“The media has for the longest time peddled only a negative narrative about the African continent and we all have a responsibility to change that,” he said.

He urged the African Heritage Awards to continue to award and showcase the best that Africa had to offer.

Khama noted that many Africans do not know what their brothers and sisters were doing in their respective fields across the continent.

“It is high time we package and showcase our own brilliance as Africans, and we will continue to support you as this is an important undertaking that we should all promote,” he said.

Chief Host and Chairman, Heritage Times, Moses Siasia, said that the solution of the world lied within the African continent.

He noted that the continent had huge deposits of resources, not just mineral resources or the hydrocarbons and gas that we enjoy, but that the best resources that we have is human resource.

“Our people excel anywhere in the world. So we must not think less of ourselves as Africans. We must take charge, we must realise that we have the potential to be the solution the world needs,” he said.

Siasia also urged African leaders to pursue progress with a sense of urgency and purpose to meet up with global realities.

This, he said was important as the world was fast tilting towards technological advancements, economic globalisation, and shifting geopolitical dynamics.

“As leaders of Africa, we must embrace these realities and adapt our policies and institutions accordingly,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mahama was honored with the African Advancement Award for Exemplary Leadership at the event.

Other distinguished Africans awarded alongside former Ghanaian president were, Dr Jayne Onwumere, Chief Executive Officer, PWAN Group, who bagged the African Humanitarian Award.

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