By Raphael Oni
For Africa to attend greatness in the world today, integration is a must. Lack of integration and cohesion has been identified as the major bane to the economic development of Africa, in spite of its having a substantial percentage of the World’s population. His Excellency Dr Solomon Christopher Gembeh, the High Commissioner of Sierra Leone to Nigeria, disclosed that the continued loggerheads between African countries have continued to hinder its development and progress.
While speaking to journalist in Abuja recently, Gembeh said that even with the ECOWAS protocol on free movement and trade, there were still a myriad of issues that are hampering development. According to him, “So, talking about integration like ECOWAS, one of the challenges we are getting as a sub region is that we are always at war with each other or there are challenges like what is happening in Mali. Everywhere you go there are some forms of insurrection, border disputes. We have border disputes in Guinea and Sierra Leone which is being resolved as we go. So, others are trying to integrate and get together but we are at war with each other.”
The High Commissioner told media men that the President of Sierra Leone is a true Pan Africanist who believes in Africa’s togetherness and unity. In his words, “My president believes that Africa has no reason to be at loggerheads with each other; you have seen the ravages of war, so it really bleeds his heart to see that we are still not integrated,”.
According to the High Commissioner, the COVID-19 pandemic, having dealt more fairly with Africa, provided a good opportunity for regional integration. He said, “Others have suffered greatly in the West: unemployment, loss of wages, loss of funds, that amount to trillions of debts that these countries have. Here are we when we could have benefited from this new order created by coronavirus by really working together and we are still at each other’s throat. So that is the lesson that we need to work on to resolve,”.
He however acknowledged that insecurity and insurgency may have forced some African nations to close their borders, but stressed that Africa must find a way to integrate so as to be strong. He opined that what Africa needs was a strong leader whom others would follow. The envoy stressed that President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone demonstrated the exemplary attitude required from African leaders. In his words, “the first time the president made his maiden trip to the United Nations general assembly in America upon assumption of office. He addressed the United Nations, talking about why Africa that makes up about a billion and half of the world’s population, doesn’t have a seat at the Security Council. He started ruffling feathers. He has a pan African posture in the way he approves the foreign diplomacy and that is why he relates to some African leaders who have that kind of mindset,” .