As the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic looms again globally, the need to marshall the rule of law and give premium to free trade have been identified as the ways that the African continent can have a better future and turn the scourge of the pandemic to a success story.
Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal suggested these antidotes to the continent’s malady Monday when he delivered a keynote address at the 2020 Virtual Conference organised by the African Bar Association (AfBA) in Niamey, Niger Republic.
The governor, who was described by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr Olumide Akpata as the “best person to take Africa to the future,” harped on the sub-theme of the conference: “How Lawyers Can Lead”, saying: “every State in Africa must be governed according to the wishes of the people and dictates of the Constitution.”
Tambuwal observed that “as lawyers, who are trained to promote the rule of law and ensure that the society is governed in accordance with the laws, we have a bounden responsibility to speak out on the side of the people. For far too long, our continent has continued to lag on all known indices of human development. Yet after over 60 years, after political independence, Africa ought to have made the desired impact! Regrettably, we have continued to wallow in economic underdevelopment.
“As you commence deliberations, I urge all of you to duly reflect on the theme of this conference which is “Resetting Africa`s Socio-Economic and Political Agenda in Post Covid-19 Era”. Given the fact that no meaningful progress has been made since, after the political decolonization of the continent, there is the need for us to reset the agenda to align with the current socio-economic and political realities. And as Lawyers, how can we lead?
“The new political agenda, in my considered view, should focus on democratisation and human rights. The rule of strong men and military dictatorship which was the hallmark of leadership for an exceptionally long time in our continent did not lead to sustainable progress. It never advanced the fortunes of our people. Rather, it took us several years back without any meaningful development to show for it. The world has moved on with democracy and rule of law especially in this age of globalization. We cannot afford to be left behind,” the governor emphasized.
Charging lawyers to kick against ‘arbitrariness in governance,’ Tambuwal noted that “democracy promotes political inclusiveness and rule of law,” thus putting them in a better position “to fight against arbitrary exercise of power by elected leaders in the continent.”
Taking the agenda a step further, the governor, himself a life bencher, insists that his colleagues “must also lead to ensure right policies are put in place, to engender effective business support, capacity building, imbibe technology and product innovation and access to sufficient financing of small and medium enterprises so as to improve employment generation, enhance productivity, and promote social inclusion.”
On the role free trade must play to unshackle the continent, he believes the African Free Continental Trade Area (AfCTA), established last year is a veritable legitimate springboard for “achieving the new socio-economic rebirth of the continent through the creation of a single continent-wide market for goods and services and promotion of the movement of capital and persons.
Rather than seeing the COVID-19 as an impediment to the growth and development of the continent, the governor sees it as a ‘huge opportunity’ for African countries to “diversify their exports, accelerate growth, and attract foreign direct investment.”
Expected to expand the size of Africa`s economy to US$29 trillion by 2050,, the governor citing reliable statistics submits that
“when the AfCTA becomes fully operational, it would ensure the expansion of market access for African exporters of goods and services, spur growth, boost job creation and take millions out of poverty this will surely reduce the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on African economy.”
Special Adviser Media and Publicity to the Governor
Nov. 10, 2020
Niamey, Niger Republic