President John Mahama has called on Heads of State of African countries, currently meeting at the 50th Anniversary of the African Union (AU) in Addis Ababa, to be mindful of the need to double their steps in forging a common future.
He said for so long, African heads have paid lip service to the need for continental unity, and “in the process maintained the erected borders that make Africans foreigners and strangers in Africa”.
The president issued the statement to mark the 54th AU Anniversary. President Mahama said Africa cannot speak about Pan-Africanism and African renaissance when they continue to pursue different and conflicting or contradictory social, economic and political policies that sometimes serve the interests of their former colonial and world powers.
“The hard fact of our time is that the path of separate and individual national sovereign States that we have trodden for five decades makes it extremely difficult to attempt a continental unity without the direct participation and involvement of the Africa people” he noted.
President Mahama emphasised the importance to abandon the notion that continental unity can be achieved by asking countries to collapse their individual national sovereignties into a composite sovereignty at the continental level.
According to him, times have changed and he realities of our time demands “new thinking and new approaches to the Pan-African Vision.
President Mahama said since 1963, when the then Organisation of African Unity (OAU) failed to achieve unification, the Pan-African vision failed to be an “event” but a continuous “process”.
He said “the African Union in the twenty-first century must recognise and respect national sovereignties, even as it progressively claims significant strategic and critical policy space, working especially to harmonise social, economic, and labour market policies on the continent for the benefit of Africans and African businesses”.
The President decried how the push for continental unity has been confined to deliberations of Heads of States, stating “we have for 50 years succeeded in making the Pan-African vision of continental unity, a leadership project.
He said for the Pan-African vision to be embraced by the masses of African people, there was the need for African Heads of states to give their people an opportunity to share in a partnership for realising the collective dream.
“If the African Union is to resonate with the people it must be a union of people, and not a union of governments alone”, he stated.
He suggested that the Pan-African Parliament, for example, must have legislative powers, its membership made elective to expand its democratic frontiers and the powers.
President Mahama believes the decisions of the African Court must also become binding on all member states.
“Pan-Africanism must mean to us a strong desire, a willingness and a commitment to work collectively towards transforming our beloved continent into one where future generations can realise their full potential and where our kith and kin in the diaspora can equal and find true fulfillment in our common motherland”, he said.