Mr. Speaker, I want to join my hon. Colleagues, as we prepare to celebrate the African Union (AU) Day, in support of the Statement made by the Chairperson for the Committee on Foreign Affairs.
Mr. Speaker, as a people, sometimes we have had to question the usefulness of celebrating days like the AU Day. Some people have the notion that it is not a day worth celebrating; and that it is more of a cosmetic ceremony than the consideration of meaningful issues for which reason some people think that we do not even need to spend money or waste time in celebrating these days.
Mr. Speaker, we cannot do without these things. I believe that such celebrations afford us opportunities to reflect soberly on where we are coming from, what we have been able to achieve and where we need to progress to in our onward journey.
Mr. Speaker, I was listening to radio the last time and sadly enough a commentator made a very sweeping statement to the effect that the AU itself is a toothless bull dog and therefore, he thinks that it must be disbanded and that it was of no significance.
I find that statement most unfortunate. Nobody can challenge the issue that yes, what we set out to achieve under the tenets of AU and the protocols and everything has not been realised because like human beings the fact that when a child begins to walk it begins to fumble does not mean that the child should not be encouraged to walk at all. And that is why I find such statements very unfortunate.
Mr. Speaker, the absence of AU, in my view, will lead only to dictatorship or segregation. In this era when the whole world is moving towards a global village, I wonder what we Africans will stand to gain if we decide that because we have not achieved the tenets of the AU, we should do away with it completely. I find that most unfortunate.
Mr. Speaker, it must also be established
that Africa lost out in the past centuries in almost all spheres of life and we were left behind, as it were. Sadly though, it is believed that Egypt, for example, in Africa is the birthplace of civilisation. And yet, when the world took off or came off the blocs for a quick start, Africa was left behind. What is the way forward then? We need to double up. And how do we do that?
Mr. Speaker, I would want to suggest a two-prong approach. That is, first, doing away with the negative things in Africa. Those negative things which have been hammered on very excellently by some hon. Colleagues who spoke earlier on such as the hon. Member for Bole/Bamboi (hon. John Mahama) who is the running mate of Prof. Evans John Attah-Mills, about civil wars, about ethnic conflicts and all these things amount to waste of lives and resources and everything that one can name.
Right now, what I think Africa should be hammering on is aggressive implementation of policies that will bring Africa out of the woods. And as we celebrate AU Day, I would like to make some few suggestions.
I think one of the things that can help Africa come out of the woods is to lay emphasis on good governance. Mr. Speaker, I am saying this because when one goes outside Africa then one begins to realise how blessed Africa is in terms of resources and everything. This is because countries that we look up to outside Africa
are countries that do not possess or that cannot boast of much resources as we have in Africa.
And yet, these countries are far advanced and ahead of Africa. And sometimes it is not difficult to realise that they are ahead of us simply because they have established a firm belief in democratic rule and in good governance. And I dare suggest that to our leaders that, let democracy work in Africa because that is one way by which we can come out of the woods.
Mr. Speaker, the other thing has to do with human resource development. We are talking about Africa trying to meet the Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation - [Interruption.] If we have not been able to achieve these things, sometimes I want to believe that it is simply because we keep our people out of such celebrations. I believe that the celebration of African Union Day and whatever should focus on the people more than on our leaders. We should begin to work on the mentality of our people; take their minds away from leadership.
It is as if, if Accra is dirty then that is the doing of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly Chief Executive, which is not the case. Whoever is there does not go around spreading litter. It is we the people and therefore we have to let our people begin to understand that if Africa wants to be where it wants to be we need a collective effort - [Interruption.] Mr. Speaker, I think I am being forced to abandon my presentation - [Laughter!] -- I am being threatened.