If you’re Nigerian or Ghanaian please read this!
African leaders on Sunday voted to choose Ghana as the new headquarters to house the new Africa free-trade zone. With the new trade zone comes a new airline hub for Africa, to be built in Ghana.
Fourteen years ago Donald Duke had initiated discussions on the need for an airline hub to serve Africa & to be situated in Calabar. Unfortunately, the dream died with Tinapa.
It is important that Africa has its own hub, but unfortunately our political leadership just do not understand how these things work, so they never take it seriously. To travel to most African countries within Africa from Nigeria, you have to first travel either to Frankfurt or Amsterdam before you can connect to headquarters of most African countries! CGI will be financing an airlines hub in Ghana following the situating of the Africa free-trade zone (in Ghana).
Under the Addis Ababa-based African Union’s rules, all of its 55 members may bid to host the headquarters. Kenya, Ghana, eSwatini, Madagascar and Egypt were all in the race. Ethiopia and Senegal pulled out. On Sunday, Ghana emerged. Almighty Nigeria was not even mentioned or considered.
This is what a good visionary leadership brings to its people. Ghana’s political leadership since Rawlings has stabilized. Ghanaians understand the importance of electing very educated people to lead their country.
Take for example, United Nations headquarters is in New York; it couldn’t be in Togo or Venezuela because America provides world leadership so, naturally, America had to house the UN. That’s how it works. Second , America provides the bulk of UN funding, so traditionally they have to house the UN; the same argument goes as to why America houses the World Trade Center and the World Bank.
Now, Nigeria is the largest economy in Africa. We finance and fund Ecowas and make a significant commitment and contribution to African Union. Housing the headquarters of the African free-trade zone should not even be in contention. It should naturally come to us, but when our leaders seem not to understand the value we hold in global affairs, new comers poke their hands in our eyes.
To be factual, we need a leadership and a team of advisers that know what to do and how the international system works if Nigeria must rise again.
Gradually Nigeria has lost her birthright, her big brother status. If not, how do you explain the fact that the African free-trade zone headquarters is not in Lagos or Abuja; rather it’s going to Ghana & Africa’s airline hub is also going to Ghana?
The was a time all of Africa quaked when Nigeria roared. What happened to the Giant of Africa? Gradually the Giant lost its seniority in the committee of nations to little Ghana, a country with a population a little above Cross River State! Ghana is what it is today because of investments from Nigeria. If all Nigerian investments are withdrawn from Ghana, their entire economy may not compete with that of Eti-Isa local government of Lagos state.
See what good leadership has turned Ghana into. It has become a place we send our kids to attend good schools because our school system has failed!
This all started when we refused to welcome black Americans who wanted to relocate to Nigeria and help develope an African country. Our Senate turned down the offer; Ghana opened her doors, gave 250 black Americans automatic Ghanaian citizenship. The positive PR that gesture has given Ghana among world nations is enormous.
Virtually all African countries signed the free-trade zone pact over a year ago; Nigeria and South Africa initially abstained. Now that Nigeria decided to join, given the fact that virtually all of Africa needs Nigeria more than we need them (given the size of our economy and access to raw materials, whose tariff-free movement within Africa would boost other economies), why didn’t Nigeria insist on housing the free-trade zone headquarters – as a prerequisite for joining the zone? Our leaders just cannot see the future.
Last week South Africa became the 65th. country to offer visa-free entry to holders of Ghanaian passports. Leadership is all about capacity and vision; and it is obvious Ghana is getting it right.
Nigeria has everything required to lead Africa. We have the intellectuals, the wealth, great men with vision, but focused and visionary leadership has remained a challenge since independence. Ethnicity, religion, zoning and primitive partisanship has continued to hold us back. We pray our children in their own generation wake up the sleeping giant. Africa shall rise again.
Princewill Odidi writes from Atlanta.