There is the need for a direct, focused and sustained leadership in Africa and the youth should take up leadership challenges, Sir Sam Jonah, Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, said on Wednesday.
He said many people saw leadership as a status of honour and wealth but cautioned that in order to be successful, people in such positions must be able to meet associated challenges and responsibilities.
Sir Sam was addressing the third National Young Leaders Summit organized by Waves International, a non-governmental organization that promotes entrepreneurship, youth leadership and mentorship.
The summit brought together hundreds of youth from various tertiary institutions, as well as young professionals, with speakers from the business community to encourage young people to strive to achieve excellence.
Sir Sam, who shared his experiences as a leader for the past 30 years in various capacities, said there was no formula for success but the formula for failure was an easy one and that was when people tried to please everybody.
“Don't compromise on values,” he said adding that success was more satisfying when earned. “Above all try and be humble,” he advised.
Sir Sam, who was the main speaker for the two-day summit, also paid tribute to the late Finance Minister, Mr Kwadwo Baah-Wiredu, calling him a true leader with real humility.
Mr Darren Schemmer, Canadian High Commissioner to Ghana, urged the youth to help promote peaceful elections in their communities.
He said leadership was found everywhere including the market, schools, homes and job places, adding that there was no one kind of leader.
“A leader is not a boss; a leader is a person that makes people want to do things without ordering them,” he stressed, saying a leader's duty was not about telling people what to do but encouraging them to take initiatives and do things by themselves with little control.
Mr Schemmer mentioned communication as the key to leading people and urged current leaders and young people who desired leadership to be accountable and responsible to those they led.
Mr Frank Adu Jnr, Managing Director of Cal Bank Limited, who spoke on “Financial Integrity and Leadership, Key to Achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs),” said most of Africa's problems were due to bad leadership.
“African leaders have unfortunately focused on themselves to the detriment of the whole, denying their people's development comparable to the rest of the world or commensurate with the wealth and resources available to the people and their countries.”
Mr Adu also expressed worry about corruption in Africa and identified lack of financial integrity in public finances as the main factor that led to corruption and mismanagement of resources.
“There is corruption in the national developmental processes, corruption in the management of public resources, corruption in the provision of essentials of life, simply corruption and mismanagement in administration and governance.”
He advised the youth to strive to perform better than their predecessors.
Mr Adu said effective use of an organization's resources was critical to the timely attainment of the MDGs, adding that it was unacceptable for people to use organization's resources for personal gain or profit.
“Integrity in everything is clearly related to what is ethical and what is morally right,” he said and called for the strengthening of administrative and accounting procedures, institutional and organizational checks and balances and enforce rules and regulations, sanctions and punishment.
“Have regard for your name, since it will remain for you longer than a great store of gold.”
Ms Esther Amba Numaba Cobbah, Chief Executive Officer of Strategic Communications Africa Limited, challenged young people to make use of what was in their hands which could be a pen, a personal attitude and some unique qualities.
“I believe that the youth are leaders of today and not the future,” she said adding that young people who are entrusted with leadership are likely to become targets of hatred and envy by the older generation who feel their power slipping away in favour of the youth.”
She said leadership was not like a product assembly line, adding it was about an individual's self-discovery and cultivation of the endowments that God had put in our hand.