President Bola Tinubu on Sunday said Africa cannot attain integration and prosperity while Africans languish in pain and anguish.
The President, in his maiden address at the Fifth Mid-Year Coordination Meeting (5thMYCM) of the African Union (AU) in Kenya, reaffirmed Africa’s unity and strength, while strongly rejecting the notion of a new scramble for the continent.
Tinubu warned that plundering and exploitation of the continent should remain in the past and never be repeated.
“We cannot integrate Africa and attain the prosperity we seek while our nearby brothers and sisters suffer in pain and anguish, they should not suffer. We must advance as one continent toward peace and prosperity,” the President said, according to a statement by his spokesman, Dele Alake.
He also announced plans to strengthen the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Standby Force to deter coups and combat terrorism in the sub-region.
The Nigerian leader, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, highlighted the progress made by ECOWAS in various sectors of its integration process, including trade, free movement of persons, investment promotion, infrastructure development, and security.
In his address entitled “Address on Status of Regional Integration in ECOWAS,” Tinubu emphasised the need for Africa to overcome its challenges and work towards a prosperous future, focusing on inclusive growth, good governance, and leveraging the opportunities provided by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
He called for good governance to ensure a prosperous future for Africa, free from the exploitations of the past, saying, “As Africans, we forge ahead no matter the barriers thrust before us.”
“The world we inhabit is often unkind and uncertain. Past history and current global difficulties argue against our future success,” he said.
“Lessons of the past few years teach us that the world economy can be disrupted in ways that halt progress and invite downturn. Our nations can suddenly find themselves in dire situations if we choose to be passive observers of our fate.
“Such passivity does not commend itself to me. I will not listen to it. Neither should any African. The challenges we face mean that governance will be difficult.
“They also mean that visionary good governance is necessary. Some observers assert a new scramble for Africa is afoot and it is much like the old scramble that plundered our continent.
“But, here and now, let it be said to whomever the new scramblers might be that our continent may be old but our spirit is new. And it is strong. The bad that took place in the past must stay there. It shall never be repeated.”
On peace, security, and stability, the Nigerian leader acknowledged the challenges faced by the sub-region, including terrorism and anti-constitutional changes in government.
“We sit here in meaningful discussion of vital economic matters. Yet, it will be impossible to bring full meaning to what we attempt unless we give due consideration to the instability and conflict that now scar many of our nations.
“The fullness of the integration we seek will elude us as long as several of our nations stand in the mist on violence and war.
“The trade and commerce we talk of today refers to valued goods and services that improve life. The trade and commerce these nations suffer is of destruction and disorder that takes lives and steals opportunity,” he added.