By Majok Nikodemo Arou
January 29, 2011 (SSNA) — Overwhelmed with euphoria that unfolded from the recent referendum exercise that would lead to creation of a nascent State in Africa, Southern Sudanese are awaiting huge nation-building challenges that require good planning and chalking out of selective developmental priorities.
Following the historic signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, the aspirations and dreams of masses were so high, but soon clashed with enormous rocks of challenges, among others, the conduct of calcitrant ruling partner the National Congress Party (NCP) that had been reluctant or dragging its feet to implement the CPA faithfully. Besides, slow capacity building and lack of infrastructure.
Endowed with proven natural resources, minerals and skilled cadres, of whom the majority are still in Diaspora, South Sudan is promised with prosperity should its leaders unite ranks and focus on genuine nation building issues that could be commenced with services such as health, education and roads.
No doubt challenges are so immense, but if the Southern Sudanese get armed with the very spirit they exhibited during the plebiscite from Jan. 9-15, 2011, one wonders why they cannot build their country. This author has seen that enthusiasm during the referendum. A female Arab journalist at the polling centre in Juba, South Sudan Capital, told this author at the late Dr. John Garang Mausoleum that she hasn’t seen anything like it!
People who resisted the tyranny for over five decades, can invoke the stamina to address the looming challenges to prove wrong the North and few observers worldwide who keep saying "they are going to see another failed African State". This mantra of failing States in Africa is genuine by the way given living examples of the failed States in the continent.
What is the recipe for building a nation from scratch? The answer is simple: good governance based on transparency and accountability. The errors of the Old Sudan should not be repeated. One of them was the growth of Khartoum at the expense of other cities, other distinct man made inequalities in terms of nationwide development and incessant exploitation. It would be morally wrong to assume we didn’t inherit or contract some ills of the Old Sudan. Yet there is a chance to dispel them.
South Sudan should establish a strong federal system, where services will be dispensed to the grassroots. Even in one federal state, the development should be even to develop the rural communities, which are potential sources of agricultural production. This, of course, is attainable and should go alongside the capacity building in health, quality education and other vital sectors to address the challenges of development that could affect immediate changes in the lives of people.
South Sudan has what it takes to develop should it harness resources effectively and wisely. With international focus, minor errors will be under microscope. Hence, the leaders have wider opportunity to deliver as excuses of external enemy would reduce, or could be addressed without fear.
Indeed the NCP was a genuine threat as it had been promoting grim scenario of uncertainty of South Sudan’s future to scare investors away, and to benefit from internal differences of its own creation. But now as South Sudan will be an independent State, the North may pursue its interests, because its strategic survival will depend on good neighborhood with the new State.
It’s incumbent on the leaders of South Sudan: Lt. General Salva Kiir Mayardit, Dr Riak Machar and Wani Iga and others to heed aspirations of masses, especially the widows, orphans and veterans who paid so dearly for freedom. They should also establish a broad based government to accommodate other parties.
Could the people of South Sudan who recorded amazing history and staged protracted struggle prove the North wrong through consensus and recalling of the spirit displayed during the referendum? Yes they can.
The author is a Sudanese journalist based in Abu Dhabi and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org