Bad Governance, Poor Leadership, Corruption InimicalTo Democracies
The Anchor is inclined to believing the Head of Mediation and Coordination of Regional Political Affairs of the ECOWAS Commission, Dr. OnyinyeOnwuka, when she expressed worry and sadness about fast eroding trust in democratic principles, particularly, in the West Africa subcontinent.
Interestingly, Dr Onwuka was addressing the opening ceremony of a two-day youth summit on Democracy and Political Transitions in Africa on a well-thought-out theme: “Harnessing Youth Voices for Change” in Accra, Ghana, on Tuesday.
The paper was particularly excited about the theme, because, when the twenty-first century initially seemed to belong to the continent of Africa, its youth seem to be sidelined in the equation, when it comes to national politics of its nations.
We also find it regrettable and even dangerous, that across the continent, and specifically in West Africa, trust in democratic governments is eroding the hope that emerged from the third wave of democracy in the early 1990s.
Organised by the African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), the summit aimed at providing the platform for discussions and understand the causes of coup d’ etats in the sub-region,
Participating in the summit are youth from the 15 ECOWAS member states including from the ages of 15-35 years.
It also sought to interrogate the impact of these coups on how citizens, especially young people, were engaged, involved and included in the political transitions that had been ushered in by military coups.
It is the Anchor’s widow’s mite corporate social responsibility to add voice to this important call from those higher places of political observations like the AU, ECOWAS and WANEF; they may be shouting out loudly but in a vexed coded diction.
The paper would, however, want to put it in its clear picture that when leaders of the various countries that assumed political power after the military take-overs we abhor to the core suddenly become megalomaniac and even turning themselves into economic bandits, raping their respective nations like scavengers invading a mass-burial site, these powerful organizations need to be more proactive than reactive; we prevent the causes and automatically prevent their catastrophic effects.
If we choose democracy over what we call military dictatorship and our civilian politicians we preferred to the uniformed rulers, turn out to be the worse version of the military rulers, then obviously, we are finished.
And if good governance should be the hallmark of democracy, it means most of the African countries that went the coup way in recent times, might have failed that litmus test: They siphon state cash, they starve their citizens, they kill compatriots over election and turn themselves into monarchs; and all this, calls for hybrid actions of redress.
That is why despite the formal adhesion of the West African States to principles of democracy and human rights, many States continue to face challenges.
While regular elections have remained the norm for transfer of power in a majority of African countries, the democratic quality of these elections have been questionable. Contested elections, electoral violence and third term presidential bids are on the rise. These are, indeed, worrying signs for the future of democracy on the Africa continent.
More than three democratically-elected governments within the ECOWAS sub-region have been overthrown by military juntas over the past five years, with the most recent one, in Burkina Faso.
The failure by elected civilians to stick to democratic values, therefore, are evident by the return of military coups, unconstitutional political transitions and the extension of office tenure, which, though violate the ECOWAS 2001 Supplementary Protocol on Good Governance and Democracy.
The protocol stipulates that “every accession to power must be made through free, fair and transparent elections,” and create a fertile ground for potential tensions and instability in the region, because the recalcitrant politician, once in power, would often pervert the protocol.
Indeed, the recent development in the region tells us clearly that we need a shift from democratic score cards being based just on free and fair elections and peaceful transitions to focusing more, on indicators of how well people’s human security needs are being met.
Dr Onwuka couldn’t be that right, when she pointed out that issues related to bad governance, poor leadership, corruption and exclusion had contributed to compounding the dire situation and exacerbated the living conditions of the people, especially the youth.
The Anchor, believes, modern nations have already have enough of gerontocracy, most of which failed woefully because the aged rulers, after wasting their youthful days on non-fulfilling ventures, turn the modern political office into their pension treasuries of legacy for their families.
It is, therefore, necessary to quickly find means of galvanizing young people, and meaningfully involving them in the implementation and tracking of the Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063, making them front-line actors.