Africa’s Agenda and the role of the USA: A new approach for A new era
A note by a group of independent African citizens - 16 January 1993
The note was prepared by a group of independent African citizens who have political and technical backgrounds that allow them to reflect a cross section of the views prevailing among the African nations. It is meant as an input to the points that the new US administration might take into account when considering its policy towards Africa.
Several reports, declarations and resolutions regarding the situation of Africa have been presented and adopted at international fora over the past 15 years or so. We trust that these reports are available to members of the new administration. These various documents – taken together, constitute the essentials of an African agenda.
We acknowledge that the internal problems of the US rank top of the priorities of the new administration. We also feel that the new administration, coming at a time when the US is the only super power at the global level, will be pursuing an active foreign policy. In this context, we hope that US policy towards Africa in the new administration will be characterized by a combination of positive attitude and higher regard for Africa’s needs and interests.
In an increasingly inter-dependent world, the stability and progress of every part of the world is important to all humankind and of interest to America. Among all the regions, Africa and its people have suffered most in history and have continued to be the greatest sufferers. Africa was a passive actor in the cold war and became its greatest victim. Cold war alliances largely fostered regimes that not only destroyed African democratic aspirations and stability but also did not help the appeal of the U.S. as a beacon of freedom and democracy.
The state of dehumanizing poverty and chaos in many African nations stands in sharp contrast to a great potential and abundant resources in Africa. With a population of more than 650 million people, which now includes people with considerable skills and talents, Africa retains 100 million hectares of still unutilized cultivable land as well as the highest arable land per capita; 700 million hectares of pasture land; water resources amounting to more than 4 million cubic metres of river water returning to the sea annually, of which 10% utilization would irrigate 13 million hectares of land. In spite of its environmental problems, Africa boasts 220 million hectares of forest and wood lands. The seas of the continent from the straits of Gibraltar to Guinea and from Angola to the Cape are among the richest fishing grounds in the world.
In the area of energy, Africa accounts for about one quarter of the world’s hydro-electric potential of which only 3% is presently utilized. Other energy resources include: 55 billion barrels of oil; some 6 trillion cubic meters of natural gas; 1.7 million tonnes of uranium; and about 90 billion tonnes of coal. Africa’s renewable sources of energy in solar, biomas, wind and geothermal are enormous.
The African Scene:
Africa is striving for change even as, in many cases, it remains caught between the past and the future. In many countries in Africa, the delay in effecting peaceful change has brought violent confrontations and chaos. Somalia and Liberia are the most recent glaring cases. However, all the African nations now recognize that democracy can neither be denied nor delayed. Whatever the obstacles and the potential dangers inherent in the transition, the democratization process in Africa is the best hope for the continent and must be encouraged, supported and sustained. Africans now fully recognize that there can be no real sustained development. In consequence, Africa’s capacity to sustain the democratic order is likely to depend on the extent to which it will be able to deliver the ‘economic and social’ fruits of democracy. Otherwise, the future of democracy in Africa would be seriously in doubt. Thus, the greatest challenge facing Africa today along with those who support its democratization process is not just the movement to democracy, which is now inevitable, but rather, the substance of the democratic process.
Conflict Prevention & Management Centre (C.P.M.C.)
Community Seminar Series (CSS 1) on The Settler Question in Nigeria:
The case of Jos - Plateau
15th – 17th December, 1993
The first Seminar in the Community Seminar Series (CSS) took place at the Hill Station Hotel, Jos to discuss the topic “The Settler Question in Nigeria: The case of Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria” from 15th – 17th December, 1993. Over forty participants attended the seminar covering a wide spectrum of the contending social groups and interests in Jos Plateau. (See Annexure A for a list of the participants).
While welcoming participants to the Seminar, General Olusegun Obasanjo, Chairman, Africa Leadership Forum, in his Keynote Address expressed his pleasure to be with the participants and commended the presence of the Gbong Gowom Jos, Dr. Fom Bot and his interest in the search for a lasting solution to the settler/native conflict in Jos.
While speaking on the activities of the Africa Leadership Forum since its inception in 1988, General Obasanjo reiterated that the major objective of the ALF is that of assisting in the improvement of the quality and performance of leadership at all levels and in all walks of life in Africa. He traced the history of the Conflict Prevention and Management Centre (C.P.M.C.) of the Africa Leadership Forum to 1992 and the choice of Jos as based on two major factors: the centrally of Jos and its nature as one of the major political ‘hot beds’ of Nigeria.
On the topic of discussion, General Obasanjo explained that the choice of the topic is deliberate, contending that Nigeria, like most countries in Africa, is a “native country” as against a “settler country”. In consequence, the effects and the fallouts of the modernization process are bound to create such reverberations as we have constantly witnessed in the past.
He however, pointed out that while conflict in any human organization is normal, the usually problematic issue is the management and resolution of the conflict itself. He also noted that ethnicism or ethno-nationalism is not a bad phenomenon by itself. The issue has always been the selfish exploitation of such ethnic differences for personal ends and goals by those who are placed in critical positions either at the community level, state or national level and even at the international level. Individual differences, communal differences, national differences he observed are natural and should be encouraged where necessary, in so far as it does not lead to the atomization of the corporate existence of any entity. Referring to Nigeria, he argued that differences must be maintained and emergent conflicts there from must also be managed and routinized without the threat of Biafranization or Balkanization to the Nigerian nation-State.
In his opinion, the resolve by Nigerians to be united as one entity cannot be sustained unless individuals and groups irrespective of their religion, ethnic background and region are free to live at will as well as seek political, economic and social recognition without any hindrance in any part of the country.
He lamented that, after thirty-three years of independence, there is still alienation of Nigerians in their country. He recommended that any Nigerian who has lived in an area for upward of ten years or who had been born in that area should have equal rights with indigenes of the area.
Concluding his address, he argued forcefully on the need to initiate a systematic, irreversible and progressive process of dismantling the institutional and conventional practices and policies that label a Nigerian a foreigner in any part of Nigeria. (See Annexure B for the full text of the address).
In his opening remarks, the Programme Manager of the Centre, Mr. David S. Belin noted that the settler/native conflict is not peculiar to Jos per se, but was a common phenomenon in most growing Nigerian towns where divergent views and interests, particularly those emanating among competing elites are bound to arise, and if not carefully handled, could escalate into conflict situations leading to conflicts that are often time violent and involving the loss of lives, limbs and property.
While drawing attention to the sporadic tension spots on the African continent and Nigeria in particular, he appealed to the media to show greater restraint and maturity in reporting conflicts particularly in a heterogeneous country like Nigeria.
He further proclaimed that the Africa Leadership Forum, through its various programmes such as the Community Seminar Series will pre-occupy itself with peace acculturation campaigns among the people of Africa, and promote virtues that would stem conflicts in the society in order to make the society a happier environment to live in.
In his own address, the Gbong Gwom Jos, His Royal Highness, Dr. Fom Bot recalled with satisfaction, what he described as the laudable and people-oriented programmes initiated during the tenure of General Olusegun Obasanjo as Head of State of Nigeria. He also commended the ALF for its overall involvement in the area of Conflict Prevention and Management as well as its decision to locate the Conflict Prevention and Management Centre in Jos.
Professional Seminar Series
PSS II: Ethics & Professionalism in Medical Practice
7th – 9th May, 1993
The Second Seminar in the Professional Seminar Series PSS) was held at Gateway Hotel, Ota, from 7-9 May, 1993 to discuss the topic “Ethics and Professionalism in Medical Practice”. About 40 participants representing different sectors of the medical profession with a sprinkling of social scientists and journalists participated in the seminar.
In his introductory remarks, General Olusegun Obasanjo, former Head of State of Nigeria and Chairman, Africa Leadership Forum called for a critical examination of the ethical issues that govern the medical profession and medical practice. He emphasized the need to keep track of the almost incredible revolution in medical technology, which has outstripped the existing legal framework in Nigeria. He further opined that it has become evidently necessary to overhaul the existing legal system that governs medical profession and medical research. He concluded his remarks by noting that, while laxity in other professions may not affect life, when it happens in the medical profession, it may make a difference between life and death.
Professor Adeoye Lambo delivered the Keynote Address in which he emphasized the importance of ethics to the development of science. His address focused on three key areas of medicine, i.e. medical training and practice, medical research both human and animal and “unforeseen” or newer problems with ethical implications.
On medical practice, he lamented the gross deterioration in standards such that many people have lost confidence in the system. The integrity of the profession is at an all time low that is hard from the client or consumer point of view. Most disturbing, according to him, is the unchecked importation of drugs, mostly fake and substandard ones, which has in turn polluted medical practice. While commenting on the trend in medical research, he pointed out that many foreign pharmaceutical firms and medical researchers approach hospitals in Nigeria to perform drugs trials for drugs that have not even been allowed for trial in their countries. The medical researchers in turn readily accept to undertake research without paying attention to the ethical and medical implications. He identified new problems in ethics as organ transplantation, new diseases like the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS), invitrofertilization and genetics manipulation to change human behaviour.
In his paper, “The Sociology of Medical Ethics and Practice in Nigeria,” Dr. Ogoh Alubo pointed out the impact of socio-economic changes that have been put on all disciplines over the years, particularly in medicine. In the case of the United States of America, for example, he explained that particular socio-economic situations had led to abuses while, in Nigeria, the relaxation of the “five years” rule, which compelled our medical/dental graduates to serve a tutelage period of five years before setting up on their own hospitals, has led to the proliferation of “buka clinics” where standards and ethics in medical practice are hardly observed.
Adopting an Agenda for Action
After the first and reconvened sessions of the seminar on “Ethics and Professionalism in Medical Practice” held on 7th – 9th May and 3rd July 1993 respectively, participants observed that unethical practices cut across all the primary sub-sectors of medical practice and profession and that these practices are not restricted to the activities of the medical doctors, nurses and pharmacists who are the key actors in the profession. They agreed that the following issues among others identified and addressed in the seminar such as self-advertising, professional secrecy and confidentiality, abortion, professional misconduct, negligence, malpractice, improper conduct, infamous conduct and dealing in fake drugs were of common concern to all actors in the profession. Having identified some key factors militating against adherence to the ethics of the medical profession and practice, participants made the following recommendations:
1. Admission into medical schools should not only be based on academic qualification but, in addition, the moral background, character and maturity of the candidate should also be taken into consideration.
2. Ethics, forensic medicine and medical resources management should be included in the curriculum of doctors as core courses in the medical schools and should be part of the subjects for which students are tested in their final examination.
3. In order to improve professional medical practice, on graduation from medical schools, fresh doctors should spend a minimum of 4 years under the tutelage of experienced doctors before being allowed to set up independent medical establishments.
4. Health institutions should be allowed to advertise their locations to the public. However, information on the existence of modern or newly-acquired medical facilities and skills in these hospitals should only be exchanged within the rank of the medical practitioners and not with the public.
5. A multi-disciplinary cooperation should be established between doctors, nurses and pharmacists while their respective councils and regulatory bodies should also uphold and maintain the ethics of their profession through monitoring, supervision, inspection, proper registration, continuous training and education. Similarly, there should be mutual respect among members of the medical team with leadership of the team based on responsibility.
6. The Nigerian Medical Council should set up an Ethics Committee in all the states of the Federation. Similarly, it should provide standards for setting up medical institutions and should stick to these standards at all times and with all parties in the health sector.
7. The government should enforce the existing laws against the production, distribution and marketing of fake drugs
8. Participants advocated for a health manpower policy that would ensure adequate balance in the medical manpower needs of the country as well as a health Insurance policy that would enable medical practitioners to observe the ethics of their profession without necessarily risking their economic livelihood. The establishment of a trust fund for the continuous training of medical professionals was also recommended.
9. The Seminar upheld importance of the ethics of secrecy and confidentiality of medical information such as diagnosis, treatment etc. Participants were advised not to disclose medical information on their patient to anyone else as this is against the Hippocratic oath.
10. Participants observed that the environment and circumstances of training have much to do with the ethical standards of medical graduates. It therefore, recommended that adequate training facilities and a conducive environment be maintained in medical schools as a matter of necessity.
In conclusion, participants thanked the Africa Leadership Forum and in particular its Chairman, General Olusegun Obasanjo for convening the seminar; a proof of his interest in the development of all facets of the Nigerian society. They then called for a continuous review of these decisions and other inputs guiding the formulation of health policies.
Farm House Dialogue:
Society and Value system - Dialogue 26
4th – 6th June 1993
The 26th Farm House Dialogue on the topic: Society and Value System was as usual held at the Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Limited, Ota, Ogun State from 4th – 6th June 1993. It was the second in the Society series.
While welcoming participants to the Dialogue, General Olusegun Obasanjo, Chairman, Africa Leadership Forum (ALF) noted that the topic was certain to be of strategic relevance and importance to the continued existence and unity of the Nigerian society. He also remarked that the free, frank and informal nature of the exchanges has become the hallmark of the Dialogues and he therefore enjoined participants to keep this in view by proffering pragmatic recommendations that could serve as inputs into the policy-making process.
The Chairman of the Dialogue, General Charles Ndiomu held that the concepts of society and values assume various meanings in relation to given factors and circumstances. The Nigerian society, he said, has a core of values and virtues that, however, co-exist with conflicting attitudes in the society. He concluded that it is the responsibility of all, including the government to inculcate and foster the right virtues and values of our Nigerian society (See Annexure II for full text).
With the two addresses setting the scene, participants agreed on a seven-point format for the discussion as follows:
Summary of Possible Non-Values:
Having listed virtues and values of yore above, it may be worthwhile to attempt a categorization of what one may refer to as “aberrations’ or “non-values” or “nuisance values”, which are current though not necessarily in our African or Nigerian societies alone – and which stand in contra-distinction. It may however not be without apposite reason that some people delimit them as “the Nigerian factor”:
a. Non-value for time: People tend to keep their appointments late, if they show up at all. They gleefully under-rate the gravity of this lapse, which is fast becoming habitual as “keeping African time”.
b. Jealousy and the Pull-him-down (Phd) syndrome. Edna Ogoli captures the mood and immortalizes this treacherous trend in her reggae rhythm, chanting, “Jealousy is the root of all evils.”
c. Usury and love of money for its own sake. Moralists caution about this trait. The Bible graphically warns that it is more difficult for a wealthy man to enter into heaven than for a cow to pass through the eye of a needle. The English song long before Ogoli’s refrain asserted, “money is the root of all evils.” It is quiet disturbing how this attitude about money is fast eating into the fabric of the national psyche in Nigeria. Counsel a student with a flair for the physical sciences to read medicine in the University and his response is, “Medical doctors do not make money! I had better read Banking’; etc.
d. The “If you cannot beat them, join them” syndrome. This seems to be a dictum or fad that is fast receiving the nod even of people in high quarters.
e. Sycophancy and worthless praise-singing. Quite a number of academics near the corridors of power resort to this shoddy tool too. Most of the print media is however now shedding itself of this yoke, in Nigeria. Frank, daredevil social critics get “settled” or face all sorts of veiled security threats or open harassments, etc. Examples abound.
f. Tribalism and ethnic nationalism in place of nationalism and nationalist patriotism. This should make for very good debate, as it is quite topical in Nigeria today. There is no effect without cause. Merit seems to be neglected in appointments to offices, promotions, etc., People reap where they did not sow?
g. Adulation for fake symbols of status. The desire to drive fast expensive cars, build extravagant mansions, etc “the madding crowd applauds, no matter the source of income of the man or woman “who has arrived,” as the saying goes. Obviously cocaine peddling, armed robbery, sophisticated syndicates of frauds, smuggling, bunkering and various criminal operatives are aided to thrive.
Support for the Conference on Security, Stability,
Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA)
The CSSDCA, as outlined in the Kampala Document, was a subject of a hearing by a joint US Senate and House sub-Committee under the auspices of the Helsinki Commission and a supporting House Congress Resolution 201 by the 102d Congress 1st Session September 12, 1991 as well as a special seminar for senior officials of the US Department of State, Africa Bureau in Washington DC. At the level of Africa, the CSSDCA has been an important agenda item for two OAU Summits (1991 and 1992) and it will also be on the agenda of the OAU Summit 1993.
The new administration in United States will be making a lasting contribution to the security, stability and development of Africa by supporting the CSSDCA process. This requires diplomatic and material support when necessary to facilitate a successful negotiation of the Process by African nations.