A Former President of Botswana, Mr Festus Gbontebanye Mogae, has cautioned countries that are blessed with natural resources such as oil against raising the hopes of their citizens on the economic impact of the discoveries on the development of the people.
He noted that it was not prudent to raise the hopes of the people before the extraction of such resources because when eventually the people’s wishes were not fulfilled, it could lead to the loss of confidence in the government with the resultant hostilities among the people, government and investors, as was the case in some countries.
Mr Mogae was speaking during this year’s African Leadership lecture series in Tamale on the theme, “Challenges of Natural Resources Management in a Developing Country.” Among the large gathering were members of academia, government officials, chiefs and students.
The initiative was instituted by the University for Development Studies (UDS) in May 2012, to stimulate discussions and contribute to a national and transnational discourse on a productive leadership culture that will support and enhance African development.
The first lecture was delivered by the former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, last year on the theme, “Leadership in Africa from pre-colonial to contemporary times.”
The former President of Botswana stressed the need to ensure adequate engagement with the people, particularly communities where such resources were discovered to understand the dynamics involved.
Failure to do this, he said, would provide opportunities for dubious people to exploit the system since measures and structures would be weak, and this according to him, could be a recipe for conflicts because “when revenue starts flowing, emotions start growing and greed takes over.”
Distribute revenue equitably
President Mogae also advised natural rich resource countries to ensure that the revenue accrued from such resources were equitably distributed to mitigate the sufferings of the people and also accelerate their development.
He further entreated governments to actively seek the advice of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the best environmental practices to ensure that depleted lands were replenished after the extraction of the resources and compensations duly settled.
“Mining is a very limited endeavour and when the resources are gone, the land will not be able to support agriculture again,” he warned.
The Vice-Chancellor of the UDS, Professor Yakubu Haruna, acknowledged that African leaders could transform their individual nations and the continent by recognising and harnessing the contributions of experts and individuals inside and outside their national institutions.
“In Africa’s quest to achieve internal integration and become a key player in global affairs, there is the need for a deep reflection on the sort of leaders the continent requires such as innovative leaders and thinkers who will drive its development and growth,” he indicated.
The Chief of Sagnerigu, Sagnarigu-Na Yakubu Abdulai, enskinned President Mogae with a development chieftaincy title, “The Royal Prince of Sagnerigu” when the latter paid a courtesy call on the chief at Sagnerigu, on whose land the university is sited.
Mr Mogae was President of Botswana from 1998 to 2008. He was the winner of the Mo Ibrahim Prize for achievement in Africa Leadership for ensuring “stability and prosperity” for his countrymen.
Source: Daily Graphic
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