African leaders have been enjoined to stop paying lip service to the treaties they signed on behalf of the people of the continent, which predicated on the Organization of African Union (OAU), now the African Union (AU).

The call came at a one-day colloquium organized by the Difference Newspaper, a pan-African newspaper published from Lagos, Nigeria to celebrate the anniversary of the formation of the OAU, now the African Union (AU), which is 53 years old.

In a communique issued at the colloquium tagged, ““ECONOMIC HURDLES ON THE PATH OF AFRICAN INTEGRATION (25 YEARS OF THE AFRICAN ECONOMIC COMMUNITY)’, the participants resolved  that such treaties like the AEC and NEPAD, which have the capacity to transform the economic life of the continent should be implemented.

At the session where Dr Joshua Bolarinwa and Mr. Sharkdam Wapmuk, both of the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, led the discussions on the factors impeding the realization of the goal of complete integration and total economic transformation of the African continent. 

According to the communique, the participants resolved that efforts should be made to review, and not discard, these existing treaties that are yet in force with a view to setting up more realistic timelines for their actualization.

Attention was drawn to efforts over the years by some African leaders to create a fitting environment for development through enabling the creation of economic communities to transform the economies of these countries. 

It was equally observed that almost all of these initiatives; including the Lagos Plan of Action of 1980 which led to the Abuja Treaty of 1991 and the AEC; and the New Partnership for African Development, NEPAD have failed from the point of view of stated success factors and end dates in terms of achieving several of the milestones. 

The scholars did not shy away from dissecting the different issues bedeviling the African economic integration story and one significant solution proffered was that African leaders should not be allowed to continue pay lip service to issues of economic integration. Rather, they should be pressured into being themselves more committed to African integration and development and not carrying on with the vain illusion that help in resolving the continent’s many problems would continue to come from other places. 

Other impediments that were identified include the fact of some African nations not wanting to cooperate fully with others and the inability of state leaders to fully back and support the strengthening of such supranational entities as the Pan-African Parliament as some of them think that the empowerment and growth of such organs would primarily undermine their own sovereign control over their national jurisdictions.

There are also problems of intra- and inter-regional coordination, inadequate finance, linguistic plurality and the lack of capacity to practically implement agreed objectives.

Internal political crisis and other forms of conflicts such as the Boko Haram conflict and bombing of pipelines by militants in Nigeria as well as cross border crimes are also some of the impeding factors.  African countries also battle health challenges on a large scale such as Ebola and HIV AIDS even as the traditional support from international donor agencies are drying up.

On NEPAD in particular, the scholars itemized some of the principal challenges it has faced since its inception as being those of affirming African ownership and leadership, and the strengthening and development of internal partnerships within African countries, and then, partnerships between African countries and the rest of the world

At the end of the deliberations, the Colloquium decried the neglect by different Nigerian governments of the celebration of Africa Day, being the anniversary of the creation of the OAU/African Union which is not marked in any significant way in Nigeria. On its part, The Difference Newspaper pledged to continue to nudge the conscience of the government and people of Nigeria to give Africa Day the deserved attention to make it a calendar event in Nigeria.