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Agenda of electoral reforms 2011 and beyond

By John Amoda

IN my “Addressing The 2011 Elections” serialized in the Tuesday Platform, issues of electoral reforms in Africa in general, and in Nigeria in particular were as listed ending with the quoted conclusion. These issues are:

•  How to effect internal democracy within the ruling parties;
•  How to share power with new parties not represented in Transitional Elections from colonial to post colonial rule;
• How to constitutionalise and democratise election party competitions over control of governments;
•  How to constitutionalise party control over the apparatus of the colonial state, control over which was transferred to parties taking part in the Transitional Elections by Colonial Governments;
• How to reform the government in the colony for post-colonial rule, post-colonial legitimacy, internal and international;
•   How to transform erstwhile subjects of the colonies into democratic republican citizenry;
•  How to transform the economy of the colony into nation-building economy;
• How to institute a nationalist patriotic political party to undertake post colonial state making.

And our conclusion with policy implications was thus: “These are eight issues and the conflicts arising out of efforts to resolve them short of recourse to civil war, characterize all elections in post colonial Africa.

These are issues that any reform of elections must address explicitly in the contexts and constraints within which election umpiring takes place. They are the referents for critical appreciation of the Justice Uwais Report’. We concluded as we did because of the present discussions on reform in Nigeria. Electoral reform is being handled as a constitutional legislative issue, for the Acting President has submitted the Justice Uwais Report to the National Assembly for action.

The implication of our conclusion for the on-going electoral reform discourse is that any reform, including those that may concern the constitution must have as its context the manner by which proprietary rights to Nigeria was transferred by the British to Nigeria’s First Republic parties. The mechanism employed by the British was election and that has determined the value of elections in contrast to its functions. As a function, elections are acts of selection of persons or a person for office by vote; hence to elect is to choose or select by vote for an office. Those voted for are the electable being capable of or having reasonable chances of being elected.

The 1959 elections was a peculiar adaptation of the function of election to effect a transfer of ownership of The Colonial Estate and its administration to parties presenting candidates for those elections.

Mo Ibrahim: The limits of idealism(2)

IT is in the context of the politics of change of society that leaderships are defined. The point is that movements for the protection of existing orders are projects of conservative parties, just as the project for reform of orders or overthrow of orders are projects for reformist or revolutionary parties. A leadership that is effective in implementing its movement goals therefore is a good leadership. A leadership that is both effective and efficient in implementing its movement goals is a better leadership. Leaderships are therefore movements specific, the good leadership for preserving orders of society cannot assume the movements goals of reformist or revolutionary parties, and vice versa. What must first be determined is what kind of change has produced Africa’s post colonial societies? What is the course of political change that is determining the order of societies in Africa? Can there be said a typical African post-colonial society? I will argue that before Mo Ibrahim can say that Africa’s woes are to be blamed on bad leadership it must be evident that the change of order in Africa is a revolutionary one. And that the pro-imperialist conservative parties were overthrown in the course of change of the colonial order and in the case of slavery that the pro-slavery conservative parties were overthrown and a revolutionary orders instituted in their place. For Africa it can be said that the course of change politics has been reformist. Reform is a change in the order of society movement, and therefore it is important to determine what of the old order remained unchanged and that was essential to defining the character of that order and what of the old order was changed that support or validate the claims of the reform party of state that they were effective and efficient in the attainment of their goals.

What then that is to be determined are the issues of reform. Is the elimination of poverty a goal of the post-colonial movement parties anywhere in Africa? Is the elimination of abuse of power and office a goal of Africa’s anti-colonial parties? Was independence negotiated with African revolutionary or reformist parties? Were movements’ parties developed by anti-colonial interest groups? Answering these questions is the road to apportioning blames to the stakeholders of the colonial order. It should be evident that such analysis of change must be seen as an outcome of resistance to change and determined championing of change. The result of reformist politics is always a factor of balance of power between the parties in any reform movement politics and in the case of Africa this will necessarily involve European pro-imperial order parties and African anti-colonial reformist parties. What is thus to be determined in the case of Africa is whether reform was and is the best strategy for change and what lessons Africa reform politics experience teaches.


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