Nigeria, S'Africa need each other to move Africa forward - Adebajo / Emma Emeozor / The Sun, Nigeria
28 July 2016
Dr Adekeye Adebajo, Executive Director, Centre for Conflict Resolution, South Africa has said Nigeria and South Africa need each other to move Africa forward.
According to him, there are lessons both countries can learn from each other, particularly in areas of governance, development and growth. Adebajo spoke in Lagos while responding to Daily Sun queries on the status of the two countries vis-à-vis lessons Nigeria can learn from post-apartheid South Africa. He was in Nigeria to launch his latest book: "Thabo Mbeki: Africa's Philosopher King."
Though he believes South Africa is making same mistakes Nigeria is making, he said post-apartheid South African leaders did not only inherit first class infrastructures, but they built on it and developed it.
"There is certain efficiency in the way things are, they have produced world class multinational companies, they have first class infrastructure where there is road, rail, etc. South Africa was able to host the first World Cup in Africa in 2010. The planning and general organization of the tournament was flawless.
"South Africa institutions are also very strong. Take for example the judiciary, the fact that the office of the Public Protector can enforce the president to pay back money he used to renovate his private home shows that the country's court system is very strong and independent. These are some of the things Nigeria can learn from South Africa.
On reason for launching a book on [a] South African ex-president in Nigeria, Adebajo explained he has brought the message to Nigeria that "we must be a pan-African nation." He said the spirit of brotherhood is not too much among African countries. He buttressed his argument when he said, "if you read the newspapers in any African country, there is not enough coverage of the rest of African countries. But it is important that we know about each other. It is so important because South Africa and Nigeria have extremely trade relations, it is about three billion U.S. dollars between both countries last year.
"It is also important that we learn about the leadership of both countries and what is happening in the countries. These are reasons why launching the book in Nigeria is important for Nigerian audience.
But why write a book on Mbeki. Adebajo said Mbeki is the man to beat. Hear him: "Today, Mbeki is the most important African political figure of his generation.
South Africa, as you know, is the most industrialised country in Africa. Mbeki was the most dominant figure in South African politics for 14 years.
"So, even when the legendary Nelson Mandela was in the president, Mbeki effectively was running the country. And I think he is important because of the foreign policy vision he had.
He tried to pursue African socio-political and economic renewal. One of the important things Mbeki was arguing for was that Africa through its own resources develops a form of democracy that can be adapted to our own system.
"Mbeki was also the architect of the New Partnership for Africa Development. He was responsible for some of the key institutions of the African Union, like the Pan African Parliament, the African Peer Review mechanism. Not all of the institutions were successful and not all of them were in public, but I listed his ideas and try to drive them forward. This is why Mbeki is important."
On the uniqueness of his book, Adebajo has this to say: "The beauty of this book is that it is a small book that is only 168 pages. So, the book tries to reach beyond academic audience with popular readership.
It is for members of the general public who are interested in ideas, people who are interested in literature and general reading and those who are interested in African politics will be interested in reading this book. It is not just for political leaders only.
Even with the status of Nigeria as "Giant of Africa," and the robust pre-apartheid relations that existed between it and the black leadership, Nigerians continue to experience xenophobic attacks. And how does Adebajo feel about the situation.
"I think some of the treatment of Nigerians in South Africa has been abysmal. I don't think anybody should try to sugarcoat that. It is not only Nigerians that are involved in criminal activities. So are Russians, so are South Africans, Britons, there is no stereotype that can single out the same as Nigerians tend to be."
He said Nigeria has tried to deal with the problem even as he wants the Federal Government to do more. He believes some of the measures put in place by both governments will mitigate the situation. "There is a bi-national commission between South Africa and Nigeria that now meet at the presidential level. Visits by President Jacob Zuma and President Muhammadu Buhari to each country can improve ties. People-to-People relationship should be encouraged and Nigerians traveling to South Africa to conduct honest business should not be restricted in anyway by South Africans."
Adebajo does not agree that Africa is engulfed in conflicts. Rather, he argues that conflicts have been drastically reduced compared to two decades ago. "If you look back, over two decades ago, there were over 20, may be 20 active conflicts in Africa. Now, many of those conflicts have been resolved.
There is Sierra Leone, and Liberia.
Somalia is calmer although still volatile, the Democratic Republic of Congo (the Eastern part) is very volatile but much of the country has peacekeepers deployed.
"So, I think we need to look at that. The other important thing is to realize that just having a think-tank does not mean that you're going to resolve every single conflict." He said part of his job at the Centre for Conflict Resolution is to analyse, research and proffer solutions and inform the people."
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