The socio-political topography in Africa is littered with much uncertainty, penury, hopelessness, despair, despondency, cynicism, starvation, moral rottenness, corruption and misgovernance.

Facts associated with this situation have been anchored, most often, on the “twin guilts” of the leaders and the followers; guilts propelled by the desire of both groups to preserve their positions of selfish satisfaction. Arguments on both sides have been pushed for instance, in Chinua Achebe’s “The Problem of Nigeria” (1983) and Abubakar Gimba’s “Letter to an Unborn Child” (2008).

While the leaders display attitudes of indifference, pride, corruption, nepotism, and insincerity, the followers have remained mostly blind to their own fate; they are unapologetically subservient, tolerant, and engage, often in programmes which temporarily feather their own nests instead of showing interest in permanent solutions to the vast social, economic and political problems in the land. The African environment is most noted for these guilts.

One other group which has not often been remembered for analysis is that of the ex-leaders – those who had provided leaderships for their countries in the past, but are now ‘respected’ citizens or statesmen who also do serve as political godparents. This group is made up of civilians and retired military people, who had been privileged to govern for some years, and have backlogs of experiences which should be of significance should they be called upon, in retirement, to help the process of political growth in their countries. Some of these are rich, exposed, and experienced. But while some have since withdrawn from the public area, some are still relevant as pillars of political parties, consultants to the present leaders, and or power distributors without whose voices political leadership is not complete in some places.

However, such ex-leaders have not been known to be capable of progressively influencing political governance in the right directions. Most of the past leaders have refused to assist present leaders with the wealth of their experiences, capable of inaugurating a season of progressive governance.

Significantly, Prophet T.B Joshua, the General Overseer, The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN), had preached a sermon to the congregation, towards the end of 2011, on the attitude of indifference of such past but experienced leaders.

In the opinion of the respected man of God, the African continent is politically and economically plagued today because most ex-leaders have refused to identify with new dreams anchored on people’s expectations to experience progressive leadership. This is particularly so because, though they do observe the aspects of the failings of recent leadership, such ex-leaders have not considered it sufficiently important to constitute themselves into a powerful association (Association of Ex-leaders) capable of advising present leadership in Africa on the path of progress, from political, economic and social perspectives.

An association such as this, according to T.B Joshua, could have served to monitor elections in countries of Africa, participate in scrutinizing political agendas, and suggesting viable political choices which would return these countries to sanity and underlines, rather than the presents experience of chaos, discordance, misrule, exploitation, and greed. Though not all such past leaders actually left good records in their countries, some of these have remained of noble imprints and saliently progressive orientations. They performed well in the past, and are highly respected in the continent. They are political visioners, planners, strategists, foremost thinkers and activists, whose potentials should not remain wasted forever, but who should, as they live, continue to influence the tempo and direction of change in Africa.

One problem with such past leaders is, said the revered prophet, that some of them did not leave behind credible legacies for which they should be remembered; but those of them who did, and are well respected, admired and responded to, have a responsibility to mobilize credible forces which would galvanize social change in these countries. They could, he said, work together with human rights organizations to actualize noble politicking in Africa. The human rights groups could link up with such an association of retired leaders, and together push the continent to a respectable status in the contemporary world, as long as such an association or organization is programmatically orchestrated through positive, value – orientation strategies. Such people should be seen to be fearless, courageous, zealous for development, focused, self – disciplined, enterprising, genuinely developmental in vision, and truly patriotic. They have to be true, unquestionable statemen with impeccable records. They are supposed to assist in promoting an atmosphere conducive for true political emancipation and economic revival in these African countries.

The admired prophet said the association of past leaders should be such that may be confided in by Africans on what prevail in their individual countries; in other words, the past leaders should not be rigid members of any existing political party, if they wish to maintain their integrity. Belonging to the existing parties has a way of dwindling their political impact and relevance, because they could be seen as being mischievously biased or odiously jaundiced in action and performance. The coming together of these leaders, he said, could serve as reliable tool of trust among Africans, which is needed to urgently inaugurate sincere, open and trust – worthy political leadership on the continent.

He maintained that what will give the ex-leaders credibility is their refusal to be integrally involved in political parties, which affiliate with the peculiar dreams of individuals instead of the people in general; political parties are often limited, or sectional or ethnically my opic or clannishly regional in orientation. But the association of the ex-leaders must be broad-scoped, truly national and all – embracing in objectives.

Prophet Joshua also said that unless the ex-leaders are disconnected from the existing political parties and become true national leaders “no miracle can be performed” on the political plane. They have to join the masses to rebuild Africa.

To him, “nobody will want to listen to the leaders affiliated to any political party”, and if they are prepared to truly work on behalf of the people, it would amount to obeying “Divine instruction”. With strong activism being shown by such leaders, they would be able to change the “fortunes” of political practice in Africa. He specifically mentioned the troubles in Libya, which by then, involved Col. Ghaddafi and the opponents of his regime, and that if such an association has been in existence, “tragedy would have been avoided; Ghaddafi would have been advised to abandon the seat of power and stop the raging fire.” If Ghaddafi had refused to listen to others, he could have listened to such credible ex-leaders who had been in power and influence before him, or been his contemporaries. The prophet even suggested that the African press men should campaign for such an association to take root urgently, in order for African countries to stop experiencing pestilentially rotten political systems and operators.

Though some social scientists might not readily be willing to easily identify with the prophet’s suggestions, quite a lot will agree that it is high time for all past leaders in Africa to wake up from their complacency and face the challenge of leadership on the continent because things have truly fallen apart in many places.

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ZIMENE MUMAKONDA

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