BOLA AHMED TINUBU, President of Nigeria, said that, while failures in good governance have hindered Africa, “broken promises, unfair treatment and outright exploitation from abroad have also exacted a heavy toll on our ability to progress”. Due to both longstanding internal and external factors, the economic structures of Nigeria and Africa have been skewed to impede development, industrial expansion, job creation and the equitable distribution of wealth. If Nigeria is to fulfil its duty to its people and the rest of Africa, it must create jobs, a belief in a better future and lead by example. “And we are doing so,” he stressed, detailing his Government’s removal of a costly, corrupt fuel subsidy and a noxious exchange-rate system. “Other growth and job-oriented reforms are in the wings,” he added.
Welcoming partnerships with those “who do not mind seeing Nigeria and Africa assume larger roles in the global community”, he said that the question is not whether his country is open for business. Rather, he emphasized, it is “how much the world is truly open to doing business with Nigeria and Africa in an equal, mutually beneficial manner”. Direct investment in critical industries, the opening of ports to a wider range and larger quantity of African exports and meaningful debt relief are important aspects of this cooperation. He also underlined the need to affirm democratic governance as “the best guarantor of the sovereign will and well-being of the people”. Military coups are wrong — as is any tilted civilian political arrangement that perpetuates injustice — but he observed that the wave crossing Africa is not a demonstration in favour of coups. Rather, “it is a demand for solutions to perennial problems”, he said.
He went on to say that the West Africa region “is locked in protracted battle against violent extremists”, and — in the turmoil — “a dark channel of inhumane commerce has formed”. Along that route, everything is for sale, and men, women and children are seen as chattel. At the same time, mercenaries and extremists invade from the north with lethal weapons and vile ideologies. While African nations will improve their economies and disband extremists on their turf, he called on the international community to strengthen its commitment to “arrest the flow of arms and violent people into West Africa”. Another important aspect of global solidarity is to secure Africa’s mineral-rich areas from pilfering and conflict, he stressed, noting that many such areas have become “catacombs of misery and exploitation” and that “the mayhem visited on resource-rich areas does not respect national boundaries”.
He said that, at Nigeria’s door, foreign entities — abetted by local criminals aspiring to be petty warlords — have drafted thousands of people into servitude to illegally mine gold and other resources. Billions of dollars meant to improve the nation now fuel violent enterprises, and Member States must deter their firms and nationals from this pillaging. He also detailed the severe impacts of climate change on his country, stating that African nations will fight climate change — “but must do so on fair and just terms”. Outlining several national measures, he said that continental efforts will register victories if established economies are “more forthcoming with public- and private-sector investment for Africa’s preferred initiatives”. Stressing that Africa does not wish to “replace old shackles with new ones”, he said that the continent is not a problem to be avoided, nor is it to be pitied. “Africa is nothing less than the key to the world’s future,” he said.
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