May 23, 2024

Solution to bad governance in Africa is more democracy — Tinubu

Stable power

Tells African leaders to respect term limits

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

PRESIDENT Bola Tinubu has called for the strengthening of regional economic communities to drive integration and trade ties among African nations to deepen democracy and accelerate development across the continent.
He said through bitter experience, Nigeria has learned that the solution to poor democratic governance was to have more democracy.

The President also urged African leaders to respect constitutional tenets, such as term limits, and ensure credible elections and autonomous institutions through the African Peer Review Mechanism, APRM, to achieve democratic consolidation.
Tinubu, who made the call during the summit on the state of democracy in Africa yesterday in Abuja, called for revitalization of sub-regional blocs, such as the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, East African Community, EAC, and Southern African Development Community, SADC, as vehicles to usher in an era of robust intra-African commerce, economic growth and job creation.

The President, who was represented at the event by Vice President Kashim Shettima, said: “The immense potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area, AfCFTA, can only be maximally realized when there is concrete economic integration and collaboration at the different sub-regional levels,”

Delivering the keynote address, Tinubu urged the regional bodies to prioritize minimizing trade barriers, promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth, human capital development as well as value addition in agriculture and agro-allied sectors.

He said: “We must deliberate on ways through which African sub-regional organizations can help foster better intra-African trade, achieve better food and energy security, promote higher rates of youth employment, alleviate poverty and realize greater prosperity for our people.’’

He noted that a reinvigorated sub-regional cooperation was critical to the successful implementation of the path-breaking AfCFTA by harmonising rules and regulations to facilitate the free movement of goods, services and people.

While acknowledging the despair about democratic reversals due to recent military coups, the President expressed optimism about polls held successfully in nations such as Liberia, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria.

He said: “The tragedies of our nations and histories inspire our concern about the reversals of democratic governments, particularly in West Africa. That’s why we are alarmed by the military coups in Mali, Guinea Conakry, Burkina Faso, Niger Republic, and Gabon.”

The president however advocated discussions on empowering regional blocs to establish well-funded standby military forces “to help contain military adventurers and the rampaging waves of terrorism and religious extremism.”

Earlier in his keynote remarks, former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, said the answer to the myriad of challenges confronting democracy in Africa was in re-examining the model of democracy passed on to countries on the continent by their colonial masters.

He said leaders across the continent must come together to devise a form of contextual democracy that takes into account past experiences, addresses contemporary challenges and emphasises good leadership, strong institutions, and a stable middle class, all reflecting Africa’s rich cultural heritage.

The former President, who expressed concern about the growing discontent for democracy on the continent, opined that the model that would work for Africa was one that took into account the typical and predominant political system, and is “suitably and appropriately placed to serve the objectives of the African people”.

In her goodwill message, the UN Deputy Secretary-General and Chair of the SDGs, Dr Amina Mohammed, said the active participation of women and young people in politics, and other decision-making processes would strengthen democracy on the continent.

She drew the attention of authorities on the continent to the effective implementation of laws, adherence to the tenets of accountability, and improved investment in democratic institutions, noting that they were critical to the sustenance of democracy in Africa and beyond.

On his part, the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association and member of the Board of Directors, Shehu Musa Yar’adua Foundation, Abubakar Mahmoud, SAN, said the focus of the summit, which is the state of democracy in Africa,” aligned with the cornerstone of the foundation’s mission and vision.