Dr Saraki asserted that African leaders can best deliver on good governance if they first ensure that the people are sufficiently educated to make the right choices.
“If we are to deliver good governance to the next generation of Africans and if the democratic dividend is to come to fruition, education is key,” Saraki said. “We must invest in primary, secondary and tertiary education – up to the 26 per cent of the national budget as recommended by the United Nations.”
He added that “It must be mandatory for every child to go to school; we should ensure that there are incentives for those that send their children to school, and penalties for those that do not.”
The President of the Senate stated that tha it is unacceptable that Africa’s trade with Europe far outstrips that between African nations.
According to him, British foreign investment in Africa totalled $54.1 billion in 2014 and China had an estimated 2,650 projects ongoing on the continent in 2015 while, Africa’s share of the global trade stands at 3 per cent and inter-Africa trade is 11 per cent.
“Let us ask ourselves: what about Africa? Not a moment can be spared in our efforts as Africans to cover our flanks in trade,” Saraki said. “We must devise an economic model that produces and manufactures primarily for the African market, and then use that as a basis upon which to engage with the wider world.”
He said he believes strongly that Africans’ talent for innovation and enterprise makes them the continent’s most valuable resources and that it is the duty of its leaders to give the people opportunities to translate these into going concerns. “This will create wealth and enable us to compete globally,” he said.
Besides, he called on African leaders to add value to the abundant natural resources replete in the continent in order to make the raw material the mainstay of its economies.
Saraki said: “We are the richest continent in resources and yet we are the poorest, because we have allowed ourselves to be pigeonholed as the supplier of raw materials to the world.
“The leaders of our two countries are clear in their stance on the raw materials pivot of our economies. President Muhammadu Buhari has said that, ‘Our vision is for a Nigeria in which we grow what we eat.’
“And President Akufo-Addo is unequivocal: ‘We must add value to [our] resources, we must industrialise and we must enhance agricultural productivity.’ The two leaders have identified this flaw in our economies, and we in parliament must support them with appropriate legislation in order to realise their vision,” he said.
He said that African leaders must remain vigilant and alive to their responsibilities to sustain its democracy, adding, “Let me use this opportunity to re-echo my long-held belief that democracy is not a destination, it is a journey. We cannot therefore take it for granted.
“Unless we are eternally vigilant and alive to our duties to provide our people with effective and responsible governance which guarantees that we listen to them at all times and ensure that their needs are met we run the risk of derailing our hard-end democracy in the region.”
He noted that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has a key role to play to make the African continent succeed.
“If the African continent is to be a success story – or even the AU for that matter, ECOWAS must play a key role. And for ECOWAS to lead the charge, Ghana and Nigeria must step up to the plate, and fulfil their leadership role on the continent. So, my colleagues, let us take the first step on that journey today, and do so together,” Saraki said.