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Solidify your leadership of Sahel region to fast-track economic growth




Experts have said Nigeria can only solidify its leadership status in the Sahel region when it begins to champion conversations around peace, security and stability to help fast-track economic growth for the continent.

The experts claim Nigeria has the capacity and will to inspire Africa to socio-economic greatness but is currently underperforming in that role.

Chris Ngwodo, the Director General, Office for Strategic Preparedness and Resilience, at an event to foster conversations on issues that are critical to Nigeria and its regional neighbours, said the country needs to review her foreign policies, pursue political integration and focus on the Sahel region.

Ngwodo who heads the federal government’s Early Warning Center noted that the country has to deliberately engage with events close to its borders and happenings in Sahel countries to provide the needed leadership.

He explained that it was long overdue for Nigeria to resuscitate its Pan-African spirit which saw the country champion resistance against colonial activities in Africa and perform the big brother role of peacekeeping in troubled African nations.

Ngwodo said ‘‘Nigeria must come to terms with an opposing tendency within its foreign policy and disposition to the world, the continent and the region at large.

‘‘Nigerians can be very insular; we tend to be indifferent to events happening around us or just beyond our borders, we are obsessed with our own internal problems and fixated with our struggle to forge coherence out of our diversity.’’

Despite the widespread belief that the Pan-African spirit has been naturally eroded owing to economic and socio-cultural challenges, Ngwodo insists Nigeria cannot continue to be indifferent to events just outside its borders.

He said Nigeria must deliberately engage the Sahel to curb non-state armed groups, facilitate climate adaptation, and help alleviate poverty or food insecurity in the continent.

‘‘Nigeria must redefine its foreign policies for the next decade, build a transnational coalition of stakeholders across the region to collaboratively tackle the Sahelian challenges.’’

Meanwhile, the Lead, Imagine Nigeria Secretariat, Lanre Shasore in her contributions maintained that Nigeria needs to lead Africa to be successful.

She said the leadership must continue to build trust in society by facilitating a national narrative, reviewing global trends and identifying opportunities for the country.

In a presentation, Dr. Julius Gatune of the Dedan Kemathi University of Technology, in Kenya, said Nigeria has consistently led the rest in sharing developmental knowledge with many countries in Africa but has failed to leverage its potential to be great.

He said the country must foster continental peace, security, integration and technological development.

“But it still has to come up with effective strategies and action plans to actualize the vision of a green industrial economy for Africa”.