African Union (AU) Day has been observed in Ghana, with a call on African leaders to reflect on the challenges confronting the continent and chart an effective path towards resolving them.
Apart from the day being observed as a public holiday, there was no official event to commemorate the occasion, compelling some Ghanaians to ask African leaders to involve the people in the affairs of the AU.
Some of the people said the AU was known to the leaders who gathered in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, regularly to toast champagne and discuss issues of very little relevance to the people.
Another school of thought said although the AU, formerly the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), did not look at bread and butter issues, it helped to accelerate the liberation struggle.
‘Today, almost all countries in Africa are free, except the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic,’ one commentator argued.
Speaking to the Daily Graphic on the significance of the AU Day, a Senior Lecturer at the Legon Centre for International Affairs (LECIA), Dr Yaw Gebe, charged African leaders to wake up and live up to the content of the manifestos that brought them to power.
‘Our leaders must wake up and live up to the manifestos that brought them to power, so that the people will have a change system in terms of their welfare,’ he said.
He said the continent was continuously being crippled by a myriad of challenges which must constitute the menu for a proper reflection on how far the ideals of the AU could be placed on a pedestal that would speed up the political and economic unity of the continent.
African leaders and civil society groups, he said, must, in an engaging manner, brainstorm on how best the I ideals of the AU could be fine-tuned to achieve maximum impact for generations yet unborn.
Dr Gebe admitted that the quest to attain the vision of the AU had been fraught with a number of challenges in terms of security, conflicts and diseases, a situation which had made it difficult to appreciate the essence of the organisation.
‘Essentially, we need to think through and reflect on all the problems I that we continue to encounter and I chart a way forward from there,’ he added.
Africa, he said, was a continent in dire need of political unity and economic development, adding that in spite of the strides being made, it appeared that the problems of Africa continued to compound and stressed the need for individuals on the continent to reflect on how much contribution they were making towards its development.
‘Do we go to work on time or do we go to work and pretend to be working? While counting the cost of sitting at home on a holiday, we should know that through our own actions and inaction we are crippling the efforts of our governments,’ he said.
Union of African people
The AU, he said, must move away from being a union of political leaders to a union of African people.
‘We need to educate the people to believe in themselves for them to know that we are ready and willing to help in the transformation of our countries and the continent as a whole,” he said.
He decried the high level of economic waste in the system and held that until that was effectively checked, the gains made by the country and the continent would whittle away through wasteful spending and rot.
Dr Gebe also advocated a re¬adjustment of some institutions of the AU, saying the AU Parliament in South Africa must be reformed to become really representative of the people of the continent in the election of members through universal suffrage.
The future of the AU, he said, was bright but noted that more could be achieved if the pillars of African integration were made to function effectively.
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