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Opinions of Monday, 14 January 2019

Columnist: Zambaga Rufai Saminu

Ghana gaining good international reputation; dividend of sustained democracy

The international community has classified Ghana among nation's performing well in governance following sustained democratic governance practised for nearly three decades.

Experts in governance often consider Ghana, a country that is relatively small in terms of size and population as the destination of African democracy where seven successive elections since 1992 have been conducted without disturbances.

For going through these successive elections, with power of authority exchanging hands between two great political parties, National Democratic Congress (NDC) and New Patriotic Party NPP, without confrontations, Ghana, first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence from British colonial rule would appear in broad daylight smiling metaphorically as beacon of hope for the African continent in terms of democratic system of governance.

All African countries practising a democratic system of governance today equally view the West African country as the shining example worthy of emulation despite the imperfections of the structured institutions mandatorily holding the country's democratic tenets together as citizens would often scream when these institutions go wrong.

By far, and by any standardized democratic measurement, this cocoa producing nation would increasingly earn global recognition as an African star for abiding strongly by this system of governance which is globally acknowledged as the best model.

Aside the sustainability of peace and tranquillity being guaranteed by the system to stimulate growth, it stimulates national development.

The promotion of understanding among citizens living in an active civil society, being monitored by a productive, proactive and reactive media landscape, prompt law enforcement by agencies working in tandem with an aggressively responsive functioning rule of law, which is primarily the rule of conduct so established as to justify a prison with reasonable certainty.

Although there have been occasional hiccups hindering progress and threatening peace, tranquillity, transparency of the electoral process, the fact that citizens remain composed after every contest of elections appear to justify assertion that the West African country could be on its way to joining nations with consolidated democracy where structures, systems and processes work to perfection, making room for adequate participation as well as improving development.

My experience in China

I visited China for a media training programme, specifically in June 2018 with other four journalists from Ghana, Justice Nii Lartey Mingle of GBC, Humuhaira Gaage of Metro Television, Dominic Hlordzi of GBC and Dennis Kwadwo Peprah of GNA. We went to join our colleagues from other African countries who were equally invited to the training programme organized by Research and Training Institute of State Administration of Radio and Television in China from June 20th to July 10th 2018 in Beijing.

Whilst we were going through the three-week course, it actually coincided with the 4th Forum on China-Africa Media Cooperation which was organized on 25th to 27th June 2018. Consequently, we had the rare privilege to participate and to interact with our colleagues to understand how governance was in their respective countries.

Position of African journalists on democracy

With frankness as the hallmark of every journalist, many of them boldly said their countries were not doing well. Others said they were in a transition period, moving away from either dictatorship to extreme bad governance, or bad governance to relatively good governance.

Unanimously, they all agreed that Africa required democracy backed by good governance to prosper. The participating journalists also agreed in principle, that corruption was very rife on the continent and ought to be tackled with all the seriousness it deserves.

As the serene academic environment would allow, we had a great time discussing troubling issues emanating from countries such as Sudan and South Sudan, DR Congo, Gambia, Cameroon, Somalia, Nigeria, Libya, and other African countries where peace and stability still remain a great concern for many Africans.

Alhaji Abubakar Darbo, one of the participants who came from the Gambia, and had been working with Gambian Broadcasting Corporation (GBC), and rose to become a Director, provided great insight into the discourse.

He offered his knowledge on governance in the continent by sharing with the team an enviable experience he had during the dictatorial era of Yahya Jammeh, one of the longest-serving African leaders, and military ruler in that small West African country who gravitated from military dictator to a democratically elected dictator, organizing shambolic elections constantly to his favour him until the emergence of Adama Baro, current President of Gambia to defeat him in an election described by democratic watchers as historic.

The participants acknowledged the shining example of Rwanda, an emerging African country providing hope for her citizens, through an ambitious leadership been provided by Paul Kagame, President of the genocide-ravaged nation, who is gradually providing plausible ideas to transform lives of his citizens.

The boldness of comrade Robert Mugabe, as the last Pan Africanist standing up to challenge western powers, was equally on the table for discussion. While many agreed with the kind of leadership provided by the Septuagenarian in Zimbabwe, others thought his age was one of the hindering factors hampering his governance method, development and the international image of the country.

As many of the journalists showered praises on him (Robert Mugabe) for containing the political temperature in his country and recounted the transformation of Libya by Muammar Gadafi, former President of the North African country of blessed memory who was killed painfully for standing up to western powers, others thought the excesses of both leaders rather discredited them and caused their nations dearly.

The unity of Africa appeared rather paramount in all discussions following the discovery by virtually all participants that the commonalities shared among Africans was far greater than the divisions created by colonial powers during the era of colonialism.

Francophone and Anglophone journalists from the continent coming together, sharing one stage at the 4th China-Africa Media Forum was really an eye-opener, which provided justification for openness, oneness for a common purpose and an agenda as a continent.

Indeed, the issue was the most popular subject throughout the course, and Pan African leaders such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana, Civil Right Activist Martin Luther King Junior of United States of America, freedom fighters Jomo Kenyata of Kenya, Nelson Mandela of South Africa among other African greats were duly acknowledged. They were celebrated for playing significant role in civil right activism to end colonial rule in Africa.

Interestingly, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, first President of Ghana was the most mentioned character in the outstanding leaders produced by the black continent and as acknowledged by all the journalists.

He was celebrated on daily basis throughout the training programme whenever we were engaging each other based on the fascinated level of development participants were seeing in the most populous nation in the world China, who seemed critically applying a self reliance model of development which was mooted, advocated many years ago by the first President of Ghana.

An exciting jealousy of Ghana's democracy

The democratic credentials of Ghana apparently were used as the yardstick to measure the performance of the other African countries as indicated by the journalists who were furious about bad governance, dictatorship, and corruption scandals causing impediments to the development of the continent.

They lauded Ghana for boldly adopting the rule of law to govern the conduct of elections and for going through seven successive elections from 1992- 2016 without upheavals or disturbances.

Ghana, for all the participants, actually mirrors the true African story and the democratic journey that should be dictating the pace of governance to reposition development in the continent.

Consequently, those of us who were from Ghana rather decided to talk less and to listen more except when we were asked to throw more light on activities catapulting our democracy, then occasionally we would gladly provide the answers.

Aisatu Jallo, one of the Siera Leonean participants working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in that country ought to be celebrated because she made us hear, see, and feel how other African countries view our country. Apparently, the young journalist who was an easy going person decided to pitch camp with the Ghanaian delegation and was frank enough to tell us how all the journalists from the other countries were saying about Ghana.

"People actually feel jealous about your country. They think that you Ghanaians always get attention and favour from the international community because of your democratic record. In fact, we all wished we were in your shoes" she underscored.

She said democratic Siera Leone, for instance, has vowed to follow the footsteps of Ghana after coming out of a terrible civil war that caused thousands their lives and rendered governance useless.

Considering what transpired, I told myself that although Ghana still has a long way to go in consolidating democracy, it behoves however on all citizens to respect what has been achieved and prepare adequately to embrace new ideas required necessary to jealously guard the democratic tenets being planted for present and future generations.

Our progress as a nation hinges on our collective effort to improve on governance constantly by protecting our democratic institutions, and above all programmes facilitating dividends of democracy.