A Former president of Nigeria, Mr Olusegun Obasanjo, has called on African governments to work towards increasing access to education, jobs and food to forestall rising security challenges on the continent.
According to him, the growing population size of African countries could become security threats if the people lack access to their basic needs.
According to him with the growing population size, African leaders needed to ensure that a significant number of their country’s population had access to education, employment, and food and nutrition to avoid insecurity.
Specifically about unemployment, he explained that, its high rate in Africa had created an avenue for extremist organisations to recruit young and able persons for their operations.
Mr Obasanjo was speaking yesterday in Accra at the maiden edition of the Policy Dialogue on African Security Challenges which was on the theme “Insiders and Outsiders: Meeting the African Security Challenge in the 2020s”.
It was organised by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC) in partnership with the Brenthurst Foundation.
Mr Obasanjo, who is also the Chairman of the Brenthurst Foundation, noted that, although population growth could be an asset, it was currently a liability in the African continent due to increased criminal activities.
Citing Nigeria as an example, he said, “we are 200 million people today, 20 million of our children that should be in school are not, that is the beginning of insecurity.”
He expressed worry over the inability of African leaders to effectively manage available resources, labour and finances in their countries to promote development.
He underscored the need for African leaders to be abreast with the economies they were managing to reduce the citizens’ financial burden, saying that “most of our leaders don’t understand the economy and that is a disaster.”
Mr Obasanjo called for the creation of more institutions like KAIPTC in the African continent to devise strategic solutions that would ensure lasting peace in the continent.
The former president of the Republic of Sierra Leone and Board Member of Brenthurst, Mr Ernest Bai Koroma, said that delays in the implementation of key strategic initiatives to improve the lives of African citizens had given rise to issues of insecurity in the African continent and transformed the continent into a recruitment ground for criminal organisations.
“Since self-independence in Africa, we have been discussing, we know the statistics, our academics have done the research, we know the problems and we have been advised on the solutions yet we have not done the basics that will improve the livelihoods of our people,” he explained.
Mr Koroma further called for proactive measures to deal with insecurity as it was a threat to the region’s stability and it could limit private sector investment into the continent.
He urged for intensified engagement between sub-regional bodies such as the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to help address the challenge.
The Director, Faculty of Academic Affairs and Research, KAIPTC, Professor Kwesi Anning, expressed worry over the use of promises and propaganda by political parties to take advantage of the vulnerable and needy in society.
He called for new ways of developing human capacity for growth in the continent.
BY CLAUDE NYARKO ADAMS