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Africa must break the shackles of Bretton Woods institutions to leverage AfCFTA, says Obasanjo

Olusegun Obasanjo was a former military ruler as well as an elected president of Nigeria

African countries have been urged to leverage on the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to break the shackles of colonialism, neocolonialism, and imperialism stifling economic growth.

It must flee from the subtle recolonisation tactics being pursued through the “honeyed policy shackles” of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and the United Nations (UN) dogma.

Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria, said the treaties and conventions agreed and signed by the imperialist institutions before and after the independence on trade and commence were not destined for Africa’s development.

“The restructured socio-economic and political neocolonialism characterised by its underlining capitalism, neoliberal globalisation, and cultural subjugation of Africa by the Britain Wood institutions are a recipe for continental failure,” he said.

“Thus, if African countries continue to depend on these instruments as the launch pad for their development, the continent will at last fail regardless of its endowments.”

“The rippling dividend are the mocking economic growth, abject poverty, starvation, joblessness and youth hopelessness.”

Former President Obasanjo, an Eminent Fellow of the African Youth and Governance Convergence (AYGC), said this at the 25th Session of AYGC held in Mankessim in the Central Region.

The seven-day event commenced on Saturday, 12 August, with 65 delegates from 27 African countries, the United States of America and Canada.

The forum seeks to connect the youth to build one African identity, harness their potentials to become responsible and make them participating citizens for sustainable development.

It is also to equip them with the appropriate capacity, platforms, and responsiveness to demand their rights as a way of promoting social accountability, transparency, and equity.

The Youth Bridge Foundation and partners put the programme together on the theme: “Advancing Youth Inclusive Governance, Peace, and Security: The Digital Innovation Factor.”

The former president said the AfCFTA presented an opportunity to increase trade to ensure the prosperity of the respective countries.

The trade area would lead to an increase in intra-African trade by US$35 billion and reduce external imports by US$10 billion yearly.

It would also create more opportunities for the growth of small businesses, with the potential to lifting some 30 million people out of extreme poverty.

Regardless of the enormous benefits, he decried the lofty appetite for the Bretton Woods Institutions by African countries for combining lending with conditionality that promoted the ‘Washington Consensus’ doctrine of the ‘free market.’

Similarly, he lashed at leadership across the continent, saying: “The greatest failure of African leaders is the lack of full understanding of what being independent means and what it entails.

“The reason the colonial powers were here and why they committed all those atrocities even matter. Independence meant hard work to serve ourselves and interests better than the colonial power.”

Limiting independence to freedom of speech, flying national flags, relaxing, and enjoying were wrong notions by early leaders in Africa, former President Obasanjo said.

The early leaders in Africa forgot that their newly instituted political, legal, and neo-political systems were at our disadvantage.

“It is important to rebrand and turn Africa around for the world to know that Africans are one and good people with natural resources, and diverse culture and we need strong partnerships with the diaspora to do this.”

“Let us build the human resources of Africa by extending a hand of friendship to them so that together we can help change the narrative of the continent, now and in the future.”

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