Formidable, Accountable Leadership Key to Growth - Kagame
27 Apr 2012: Emma Amaize and Austin Ogwuda
President of Republic of Rwanda, Mr Paul Kagame, whose country is one of the reference points in the world today for its viable rehabilitation and growth strategies, said, yesterday, at the second Economic Summit of the South-South states, holding at Asaba, Delta State, that the way forward for Nigeria and South-South geo-political zone, was the enthronement of a formidable and accountable leadership, which must be responsible to the citizens.
Kagame, whose keynote address was delivered by the Chief Executive Officer, Rwanda Development Board, RDB, Mr. John Kigara, said Rwanda overcame its post-war conflict, which was not different from the scenario in the Niger Delta region, out of its sheer will to succeed as a people, adding that to facilitate reconciliation, it initiated a national dialogue, where the people ventilated their views on the way forward.
President Goodluck Jonathan, who was represented by his deputy, Namadi Sambo, agreed with the postulations of his Rwandan counterpart on the parameters for sustainable development, but was silent on convoking a national dialogue.
Representative of President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Mr. John Gara; and Ambassador Joseph Hatineza, the Rwandan Ambassador to Nigeria.
Former first Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, IMF, Mr. John Lipsky, who delivered a keynote address, said what was needed to jump start the growth of the Nigerian and South-South economy was strategic reforms, and stressed the need for the leaders of the country to act quickly, move together with confidence, as there was no time and delay is dangerous.
He said opportunities abound in land and human resources in the region and the leaders should prudently tap and manage them in the interest of the people, adding that the governors have to develop policies that favour the people.
Kagame, who commended the South-South governors for creating the forum where Nigerians and Africans could have constructive dialogue on African matters said: "Rwanda and the South-South share an unfortunate history of conflict. We also share the determination to put the part behind us and forge ahead and that is why I have decided to entitle my discussion as 'Opportunities for Development"."
According to him, "we recognised as Rwandans that our development depended on our efforts, we owe it to ourselves to succeed, not to any other person. Similarly, the South-South has felt that it does not want to be held captive by its past. I want to state that you have enormous advantage over most countries, you have huge oil deposits and other natural resources."
He, however, said those who espoused the notion of a resource as the main basis for development were detractors who want to draw the continent down, adding: "What matters is to develop human capacity that can ensure that we manage available resources in a manner that will lead to sustainable development."
Kagame said Rwanda initiated a national dialogue, which was still ongoing after the conflict that bedevilled the country to adumbrate on the critical issues facing the country to facilitate national reconciliation."
Lessons for Africa
He said experience of the Rwandan crisis was that it had important lessons, which African nations might identify with and could use for their benefit as they deem fit, but quickly pointed out: "Let me make one salient observation, post-conflict development is essentially about nation building."
He said such leadership allowed its citizens to participate in their own governance and in Rwanda, the government planned with the people, not just for them, including their priority and designing it into government's programme.
He said: "All these mean that solution to national challenges came from within and that is that people own the entire development process. In my view, countries can only develop if governments enable a qualitative improvement in their citizens' life. This means that a suitable business climate that facilitates better production and more trade and investment must be established."
World economy increasingly connected
He noted that world economy was increasingly connected and competitive and Africans must also be competitive and attractive to investors by making bold reforms and removing unnecessary bureaucratic procedures.
"To conclude, let me say that post-conflict re-building is a daunting and not impossible task, it can and should be done if we are prepared to forge a common vision and seize available opportunities to improve the system.
FG's vision is to develop the economy -Jonathan
President Jonathan, whose trip to Cote- D'Ivoire on an official engagement prevented him from attending the summit, commended the governors of the South-South through Vice President Sambo, who stood in for him, for not only initiating the summit, three years ago, but setting up an agency, BRACED Commission, an acronym for the six states to pursue their vision of integrated regional development.
He said the vision of the Federal Government was to develop the economy and put infrastructures in place, as well as be less dependent on oil with good planning, good governance and transparency as its focus.
He also said the road, education and other viable projects in Rivers, the first aircraft servicing centre in Africa being built by the Akwa Ibom State government, the network of roads, education and health facilities in the state, the best tourist attractions in Africa located in Cross River State and the breath-taking development in Edo State were all signposts of the resolve of the governors.
We 'll outgrow power outage
On the issue of power, which caused a stir at the ceremony with electricity going off about three times, he said the Events Centre, Asaba, where the conference held, was a new edifice that had not been connected to the national grid, and what happened was the fault of the generators that were used.
He said the Sapele Power Plant, Sapele was already producing power and the power plant in Edo State was nearing completion, while the one at Osogbo was on course, and that hopefully, the nation would outgrow the issue of power outage.
According to him, funds had been provided in the 2012 budget for the development of Brass Liquefied Natural Project even as the government was retooling the agricultural sector.
We have not been able to develop non-oil sector-Uduaghan
The chief host, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan, in his address said: "In the last few years, Delta State government began an economic transformation programme. A transformation that demanded we completely remodel how we develop our state from the old ways to a new one, to guarantee our prosperity and survival. Which we tagged "Delta Beyond Oil."
"As a state of over four million people and largely oil producing, we account for about 3.0 per cent of the national population and about 30 per cent of national oil production and export. Oil and gas account for 65 per cent of our GDP and 85 percent of our revenue from federal allocation.
"Sadly one major drawback of depending on oil was that we were not able to develop our non-oil sector in agriculture, solid minerals and tourism. As a government, we were determined to change that. As a government we knew we must diversify our economy from its dependency on mono-culture source to other sources that are more empowering, that are more sustainable and can create wealth for our people.
"The major outline of this goal is to build key infrastructure in the areas of power, transportation (including airports and sea ports) and industrialisation anchored on our Special Economic Zones. In pursuit of this vision, we have struggled with enormous challenges. But we have remained focussed.
Public Private Partnership
"To a great degree we sought strategic partnership with the private sector under our Public Private Partnership (PPP) model. I like to state that we have made reasonable progress in that regard. Private sector interest in building the Warri Industrial Business Park is strong. The Koko Export Free zone, a gas based industrial park, a major component of President Jonathan's Gas Revolution Agenda, has a robust private sector interest in driving it.
"We also have a solid private sector investment in agriculture in our collaboration with Obasanjo Farms in the Delta State OFN project and in tourism with the on-going construction of the Delta Leisure Park at Oleri near Warri and the zoo at Ogwashi-Uku.
"So far the PPP model has served us well and we are determined to continue and are open to further engagements with the private sector', he said.
His words, "In addition, most of the waterfront areas at Warri, Koko, Burutu and Oghara have virtually been taken up by private investors and are at various stages of establishing their industries especially oil and gas based industries". "On the whole, I want to say in Delta State and across the South-South zone we share a common aspiration for our peoples."