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The Guardian (Lagos)
By Francis Onaiyekan
Education nurtures nature. I have heard it said that some higher institutions award their certificate “for character and learning”. That is how it should be.
Education without character will create clever manipulators not wise, public -spirited men and women. Before, and beyond education, character is key to make a living, to make a life, to make a nation. Yes, to make a nation because “countries are built on the character of their people” (Our Daily Bread, 1/2/98)
There is a saying in Yoruba that “Igbagbo eni k’i koja iwa eni”. This means that a man’s religiosity can only be as pure as his character. Put differently, a man’s character defines the quality and practical application of his religiousness.
Education is a tool to nurture the nature of a man, to direct him to ‘lofty thinking’, elevate his character, strengthen his power to choose what he ought over what he will, and to act every time, for a purpose higher than self. “Learning expands great souls” says a Namibia proverb.
An inherently good man will be made an even better man by his education. If education is a tool to improve character, then, in terms of a nation, the better holistically educated a people, the better the state of the nation.
It is necessary to periodically examine, review, and upgrade the content of education in order to assure quality and continuous improvement, for the overarching purpose that it helps to make a living and make a life. As earlier noted, intellectually brilliant people who are destitute of good character easily turn out to be mere “clever devils”. Of course, clever devils are dangerous to society; at leadership level, they are toxic.
Considering the way Nigerians in leadership positions behave, it is easy to state that well-educated but innately bad men and women who are impervious to the refining process of education inevitably behave according to their despicable nature.
If one is not a “great soul”, education cannot “expand” him. For example, Judas was with Jesus. No greater opportunity to attain Godliness was ever available to a man. But see what a mess he made of it!
Education nurtures lofty thinking. But this is not enough. In line with Spenser’s notion, ‘lofty’ thoughts should prompt lofty acts. ‘Lofty’ act is the great purpose of education.
They say “Knowledge is Power”. I do not completely agree. Knowledge by itself is only potential power. What is done with knowledge, how it is applied is power. Applied knowledge yields the tangible and intangible products of the human mind.
In physics, there is latent (or potential) energy and there is kinetic energy. The one is dormant; the other makes things to happen.
Knowledge not applied or put to action is latent; it is not power nor is it powerful. Spencer is quite right the great purpose of knowledge is its application to produce result. That is knowledge in action as opposed to ‘latent’ knowledge. Gbenga Adebambo’s statement on Bill Gates earlier quoted is germane here.
Education for Leadership role
“Education”, says Wendell Lewis Wilkes, “is the mother of leadership. It is a sine qua non for leadership because necessarily, the first requirement is to lead by ideas. The better the idea, the better the quality of leadership.
Besides, quality of ideas distinguishes mere leaders from great leaders. Rosalynn Carter opines that a leader takes people to where they want to go but a great leader takes them to where they ought to be.
Where do good ideas come from? From knowledge, understanding, experience, wisdom, and inspiration. “I will study and prepare, and someday, my opportunity will come” says Lincoln. When indeed his opportunity came, he did not fail and for that, history remembers him.
Aspiring leaders, as well as persons in leadership positions cannot educate themselves enough. In order to be ready and able for the multi-dimensional challenges of leading unpredictable men and women in a complex world, leaders must continually educate themselves in diverse fields of knowledge.
While it is good to specialize in a discipline and become an expert in it, the received opinion is that a specialist or an expert is someone who knows more and more about less and less.
Leadership requires a generalist, defined as “a person who is knowledgeable in in many fields of study” (Collins Dictionary of the English Language, 1985). Equipped with a broad education for cross-disciplinary thinking, the generalist is what F. Scott Fitzgerald describes as “that most limited of specialists, the well-rounded man”. And, “cross- disciplinary thinking”, it has been said, “is critical to proffering solutions to contemporary development challenges”.
To lead people in the 21st century knowledge society requires the generalist who is “competent in several fields” (Oxford Dictionary of English Language, online). It calls for, multidimensional thinking that can only come from a multidisciplinary knowledge and experience of the world.
The generalist, the well-rounded man, is able to see the present ‘big picture’, as well as the long-term perspective to an issue. The product of his thinking is, most likely, a more informed judgment and an enduring decision.
A deep immersion in the Humanities is an absolute necessity to these ends. I cannot agree more with A. Whitney Griswold that “The only sure weapon against bad is a better idea. The source of better ideas is wisdom. The surest path to wisdom is a liberal education”.
The leader must immerse himself in the Humanities. The knowledge and skills needed to manage human affairs is vastly different from what is required to function in the Science laboratories, or work with mindless machines in the world of Technology.
James Michener in A Michener Miscellany (1980) writes that “The more complex the world becomes the more desperately it needs men trained in liberal arts… the government of the world must always rely upon the man with broad human knowledge. … [and] governing anything requires knowledge of men, a balanced judgment, a gift for conciliation, and above all, a constant weighing of good versus bad. Only men with broad education can perform such tasks”. Therefore, in the conduct of human affairs where uncountable ideas contend, a leader must continually improve his capacity “to weigh and to consider”.
Plato recommends that societies be governed by philosopher-kings “who possess both a love of knowledge, as well as intelligence, reliability, and a willingness to live a simple life” (Wikipedia). I fully agree. The much talked about success of story of Singapore is largely the handiwork of a Cambridge –trained lawyer named. Lee Kuan Yew. The great stride in education by the Western Region of Nigeria in the First Republic was the product of the combined educated minds of the Awokoyas the Ajasins and the Awolowos of this world.
In Nigeria however, and contrary to Wendel Lewis Wilkes’ assertion that education is the mother of leadership, the authors of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) certainly do not see a link between education and leadership. The provisions of Sections 13, 655, and 318 attests to this. I shall dwell more on this later. Suffice to say that, this constitution, being a product of a military rulership, implicitly grants that a man does not need much education to rule (as opposed to govern).
By Rodrigue Fénélon Massala
The Economic Commission of the African Union, in partnership with the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), held in Yaoundé, capital of Cameroon, from 4 to 8 March 2019, the third session of the specialized technical committee (CTS) on finance, monetary affairs, economic planning and integration.
For 4 days, African experts and ministers in charge of finance and planning laid the groundwork for the transformation of African economies in the context of integration, strengthening trade through the implementation of financial instruments continent and the continental free trade zone.
According to the final report that sanctioned this third session of the Specialized Technical Committee (STC) of the African Union, the Ministers in charge of the finances of the member states and the Association of African Central Banks worked on the harmonization of the operating framework African regional communities to achieve a productive transformation of their respective economies as summarized in Agenda 2063, “The Africa We Want”.
The report of the Yaoundé session, as well as previous reflections, indicate that, for some time, African states have been working on a collective initiative aimed at the effective free movement of people and goods across the continent, but to no avail. It is in this context that the specialized technical committee of the Union spares no effort to implement the African Central Bank, the African Monetary Fund, the African Investment Bank and the African Stock Exchange.
The need for the implementation of Africa’s own financing instruments would distance it from the economic and financial mechanisms inherited from colonization. Africa must transform its economy into an economic platform of production and not into a consumer economy platform, as it has been for nearly 60 years.
In this perspective, the establishment of financial institutions for the African Union under the Syria Treaty, will contribute to the development of a strong and modern African financial system, facilitate payments and settlements, and reduce the risks of exchange rate volatility associated with cross-border trade and investment.
The idea of setting up a rating agency is therefore essential to assess the risks incurred by companies operating on the continent.
It is unacceptable after 60 years that the statistics of African states are produced by non-African institutions such as the OECD and the European Union. It is to overcome this deficit that the AU Economic Commission under the Shasa2 (Strategy for the Harmonization of Statistics in Africa) initiative produced and presented to Addis Ababa in July 2018 the first report of the statistics of African states. For a continent that wants to be transformed must be able to control its own development levers with the definition of its qualitative and quantitative criteria.
The Yaoundé session, which also focused on monetary integration in Central Africa, as indicated by an AU source; Some countries have in the past resisted the notion of union and the harmonization of legal and institutional frameworks. According to this source, it is clear that the Yaoundé meeting helped to advance the process of implementing a tangible subregional harmonization.
In light of all the above, it is important to stress that the transformation of African natural resources by adding value, the development of infrastructure and the modernization of the African financial market are essential for the implementation of the Free Trade Area. continental African continent (ZLECAf).
During 2019, the AU Commission will launch the next phase of the ZLEAF negotiations, such as the development of the regulation on goods produced under special economic arrangements (Annex areas on rules of origin); the development of a mechanism for the identification, monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers, etc.
The African Union Commission remains confident that the 22 ratifications required for implementation will be obtained shortly and that the launch of the ZLECAf will be effective at the AU Summit of Heads of State and Government to be held on July 6, 2019 in Niamey, Niger.
Regarding the state of integration at the regional level, the Yaoundé session noted that although some Regional Economic Communities (RECs) have made significant progress in trade and the free movement of people, goods and services. services, rationalization of the RECs remains a common task.
The weakness of intra- and extra-CER infrastructure networks and the reluctance of Member States to give up some of their sovereignty are other challenges. The AU Commission has just developed a Multidimensional Index of African Regional Integration (IMIRA) to measure efforts and progress on integration and to identify obstacles to the necessary corrective actions. It is an effective statistical tool. Africa cannot measure its progress in achieving the goals of Agenda 2063 without following this approach.
Indeed, it is with this in mind that the Commissioner for Economic Affairs of the African Union, Prof. Victor Harrison, urged member states to take all necessary steps to sign and ratify the legal instruments of financial institutions. He said in his presentation that the African Union Commission, for its part, is working closely with the Association of African Central Banks to monitor countries’ macroeconomic performance in order to create the necessary conditions for the creation of the African Union. African Central Bank.
The same work is also done with the Association of African Stock Exchanges (ASEA) for the realization of the project of the Pan African Stock Exchange.
In addition, Victor Harrison informed African ministers and experts present in Yaounde that the reference book on the “Mobilization of domestic resources: fight against corruption and the FFI” whose production was decided at the end of the session of the CTS 2018 is being finalized and is expected to be released in the coming months.
The Yaoundé CTS session specified that corruption is one of the hindrances to inclusive and sustainable economic growth. The session noted that corruption discourages investors and increases inequality. In this regard, efforts should be directed to examining the right mix of policies, checking national laws, and enacting laws according to the changing global context. In addition, the meeting highlighted the need to address the problem of illicit financial flows (IFFs). In doing so, it was noted that there is a need to improve governance and accountability to reduce the financial haemorrhage of illicit financial flows through the fight against corruption.
Speaking at the session, Cameroon Finance Minister Louis Paul Motaze said: “Africa, despite its many mineral resources, accounts for only a meager percentage of the world’s commercial input and still imports almost everything, including currencies, which made it rich, but very poor. ”
The 2014 Yaoundé STC concluded that financing for Africa’s development requires a comprehensive approach that harnesses the potential of domestic resource mobilization.
Al Ahram Weekly – Egypt
By: Doaa El-Bey
Geography, a common history and a plethora of natural resources should encourage integration and cooperation between Arab and African countries, concluded participants at this week’s Arab-African Youth Platform in Aswan.
“The Nile Valley: The Pathway for Arab-African Integration”, a roundtable held as part of the platform, addressed the obstacles in the way of greater integration and possible ways to overcome them.
Heba Al-Beshbishi, a specialist in African affairs, said that though the challenges are grave — they include terrorism, security issues and illegal migration — the fact that they are shared should be an incentive for Arab and African countries to integrate.
Political instability that often threatens the nation state and has led to civil war in some African countries requires urgent action, said Abdel-Latif Farouk, a parliamentary researcher in African affairs.
“The gravity of the challenges requires more effort on the part of all states,” he told the roundtable.
Rashed Al-Shamsi, deputy speaker of the Arab Parliamentary Union, stressed the importance of structuring legislation to create a more hospitable climate for agreement and cooperation.
President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi pointed out that Arab-African rapprochement is not a new idea. Arab-African summits were convened in Egypt in 1977, in Sirte, Libya in 2010, in Kuwait in 2013 and in Malabo in 2016, and a summit is scheduled in Saudi Arabia later this year.
What the summits have revealed, added Al-Sisi, is that common factors binding Arab and African states outweigh the factors that divide.
“A crisis in one country affects the stability of the whole continent. The stability of every country should be our common goal... We should invest in the stability of each and every country before we talk about investment among countries,” he said.
Empowering youth and women is an essential component of the battle to beat instability, and “empowerment should be generated by the political leadership who can transform it from desire to reality”.
More than 60 per cent of the population of Africa is below 40 years of age, a fact that Al-
Sisi said necessitates major vocational training schemes, as well as innovative ways to encourage young people to take more active roles in their countries.
Al-Sisi discussed efforts exerted via the Young Leaders Initiative and the National Academy for Training Youth, saying both were motivated by a strong belief in the abilities of young people.
Hamaza Attarawna, a local councillor in Jordan, explained how Jordan’s decision to reduce the age of candidates to 25 had allowed more young people — himself included — to stand in elections.
Jakiza Alvera, a former researcher in a project supporting African-European partnership, focused on the cultural obstacles women face in seeking empowerment.
She said women in many countries have limited access to education and fewer job opportunities than men. They face discrimination in the workplace, and are often disparaged by male colleagues.
“Circumcision is the clearest evidence of the way social traditions weigh heaviest on women,” she said. “We need to face up to these problems in a realistic way.”
Tarek Babakr Abdel-Salam, a young member of Sudan’s Conference Party, focused on the special relationship between Egypt and Sudan.
“This platform is held on the Nile, in Aswan. Both the river and the town embody the unique elements that bind Egypt and Sudan in a relationship built over thousands of years,” he said.
The two countries, he added, share a common border, language and history.
Agreeing with Abdel-Salam, President Al-Sisi added that Egyptian-Sudanese relations could serve as an example for relations between African states and Arab-African countries.
Al-Sisi concluded by saying Arab-African integration needs diligent work from all parties and requires improvements to infrastructure, including establishing a network of land and railway links.
He recommended that papers be prepared for the next Arab-African summit in Riyadh focusing on creating a common Arab-African market, ways to provide funds for start-up projects and the best ways to establish transport links and link electric grids.
The sessions, workshops and roundtable discussions held as part of the platform were an attempt to bridge the gap between young leaders and senior policy and decision-makers.
The Arab-African Youth Platform was originally mooted at the World Youth Forum held in Sharm El-Sheikh in November 2018. President Al-Sisi subsequently designated Aswan as the capital of youth.