Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Election 2012, has said Africa needed visionary political leadership that is focused on the region to bring transformational changes.
He said Africans did not only need leadership in politics but also leadership in professions like medicine, science, technology, industry, business and law.
Nana Akufo-Addo said throughout the ages African traders and celebrated market women had always managed to conduct trading activities across the countries of the region in spite of the difficulties put in their way by governments and officialdom.
He said this during the 2014 Verdant Zeal innovation series at the Civic Centre of Ozumba Mbadiwe, Lagos, which was theme: “Growing Leadership Innovation – Lessons for Africa,” and made available to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Thursday.
Nana Akufo-Addo urged political leaders to encourage such entrepreneurs to look first to the African region so as to build transparent, competitive relationships that could accelerate development.
He said in spite of the talk that the power behind the European Union is bureaucrats in Brussels, without the belief and determination of the political leadership the EU’s dream would have remained just a dream.
Nana Akufo-Addo said Nigeria had the numbers and the economic muscle and therefore proposed that it must provide the political leadership and passion to translate the ECOWAS dream into reality.
“When we think of West Africa and Africa before our individual countries, we are not just being pan-Africanists we are being true nationalists because what makes West Africa better will make each of our individual countries better and more prosperous,” he said.
He said the bilateral relationship already existing between Ghana and Nigeria demonstrated the enthusiasm needed for further integration and that
African leaders must work together to make African winners in the global village of industry, trade and commerce.
Nana Akufo-Addo said he was looking forward to the day when there would be at least 10 West Africans on the list of billionaires instead of one who would collaborate to build refineries, petrochemical plants, industries and modern farms that would create the atmosphere to enable them industrialize to feed the market of half a billion people that we shall soon reach.
He said there was the greatest need to make ECOWAS work in the small scale business where there are too many hindrances in their way as they try to operate and yet they are invaluable cogs in the wheel of development.
He said as France and Germany, Ghana and Nigeria together could also be the engine for growth of the African Region as well as other West African countries such as Cote d’Ivioire, Senegal and Guinea who are equally important components of that engine.
“We owe it to the region to unleash the energy and ingenuity of the West African and get corrupt and incompetent government officials off her back, and, with a market projected soon to be half a billion people, the sky will be the limit,” he said.
Nana Akufo-Addo said it was time for those who believe in regional integration to give enthusiastic support to Community decisions and inspire confidence and integrity in the structural organs of ECOWAS.
“We must be clear in our minds about the ties that bind us together. Our nations and peoples subscribe to common values of governance, the principles of democratic accountability, respect for human rights and the rule of law,” he said.
“We must provide leadership that has respect for the people and would work to transform our economies. Our people deserve no less and the dream of prosperity is within our grasp.”
Nana Akufo-Addo called on ECOWAS to be aware that other regional organizations on the continent such as Southern African Development Community (SADC) in southern Africa and the East African Community in Eastern Africa are already making vigorous strides down the path in other to establish the conditions for West African prosperity in the decades ahead.