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Opinions of Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Columnist: Dr. Donald Agumenu

The Tapestry of Governance in Africa: Is this the Africa we want?

The quality of democracy in Africa is not only challenged with violence, brutalities, human right abuse, high rate of unemployment, election malpractices, weaknesses in the electoral institutions, but more importantly the rapid growth of monetization of politics, corruption and the perpetuation of evil for cheap embryonic gains. I consider this, as a new threat to our democracy, a looming catastrophe and a silent killer. I mean this can kill a society.

This situation could be likened to the precarious picture that the good-news paints about the last days. Just to paraphrase: some will depart from the truth and pay heed to deceiving spirits. In other words: listening to spirits of lie or people who tell lies. It will interest you to know that today, people cunningly hide under the law by outsmarting the system without being conscience stricken; perpetuating evil to the extent that, the rule of law in practice appears not to be what we read in books anymore. Seemingly reputable organisations and individuals that should have been seen guiding and guarding our values – that is to say - doing the right thing and protecting the dignity of our society, have rather become culprits for the sake of immediate political gratification and or money acquisition.

Why should we continue to entertain or nurture this cancerous behaviour that is virtually engulfing the entire society? I believe that it is important to curb the situation now before it degenerates into an uncontrollable monster that will sweep away not only our values but our humanity as well.

This vices listed above are gradually eroding the beauty of our democracy, the justice system, human rights and our leadership development. The situation can even be traced down to the levels of local government elections across the continent, moreover, talking about national elections. The worse of it is the atrocities of killings, intimidation, deceit and deploying divide and rule strategies amongst tribes, faiths, and communities of nations. This unfortunate development is not peculiar to a single country per se but it’s almost a global concern, where international bodies are at times forced to cover the truth for many years, at the expense of the livelihood and the soul of many innocent people.

A typical case is that of the French Cameroun’s union with the Southern Cameroons where for almost six decades, a marriage of convenience has left the English speaking people of that twin nation marginalized, underpinning the basis for radicalism under the watchful eyes of the International companies that make gains from the resources exploited from the nation at the detriment of women and children or the less privileged in society. Is this the Africa we want? What is the role of the AU? In reference to Agenda 2063 which was promulgated in 2013 with the main aim of setting up a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years that seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.

One may ask, what are the gains from strategic international policies like: the Lagos Plan of Action, The Abuja Treaty, The Minimum Integration Programme, the Programme for Infrastructural Development in Africa (PIDA), the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP), The New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), Regional Plans and Programmes and National Plans vis a vis our national policy implementations to achieving the Africa we want? It is sad to say Africa remains unstable in the midst of enormous resources and good policy frameworks. Where do we go from here?

The instability in Cameroon provoked the displacement of more than 160,000 people, pushing about 40,000 into neighbouring Nigeria as refugees and some others, to unknown destinations. Sources say hundreds of Anglophones have been summarily executed while thousands others are found in prison cells. About a hundred villages are razed: literarily burned to ashes with old or ailing people including children in homes. This evil isn’t the first of its kind in the world. We can trace it back to the holocaust of 1933-1934 in Germany, and the genocide of 1994 in Rwanda. No wonder the global community described the situation as one of the most outrageous atrocities in the history of humankind and we heard slogans like, “Never Again,” popularized by the international community and the media, to indicate how apologetic they were after failing to stop Rwanda’s genocide. Let’s not forget the role of lies and distortion of facts in all of this. Now, the question is, when will these catastrophes end in our continent, and is it just a slogan or it is rather a pledge that can be substantiated with actions if indicators of an eminent genocide are dictated in any nation?

Let’s observe and do a little retrospection of our struggle as a people, and a candid introspection of our leadership path and decisions we had to take as Africans. It’s important we re-examine the socio-cultural and political setup and the style of leadership that we have embraced all along. I don’t know how you see things, but I know we can be better. Africa can regain its glory. We have allowed few people to create dominant hegemonic machinery to first of all amass wealth, marginalize the poor and perpetrate evil on our continent with diabolic alliances with external forces of common interest. Africa has come a long way to divert towards the wrong path. I can’t say we’ve taken wrong vehicles but it seems along the line, some drivers and conductors have decided to go on a different route without showing us the exact bearing. I don’t blame the passengers though! You may know where you want to go at times even with a good vehicle, but you may need a good driver to take you there safely. I entreat every African on the planet under the leadership of these lines to ask their leaders the following questions:

1. What brought us here? 2. Where are we on our struggle to socio-political and economic freedom? 3. Where are we actually heading to? 4. Are we fully equipped with the right people in the realm of things? 5. Do we have the right fuel and conductors to drive us safely to our destination? 6. What is the missing link?

Above questions keep lingering on my mind each and every moment. The case of Singapore, Malaysia, China, and other emerging global economies cannot be over emphasized.

Despite the successes gained in various sectors on our continent, it seems things have equally deteriorated conversely. Leadership (selected few) seems to prioritize a get-quick-rich mechanism to loot state resources and suffocate the masses from equitable distribution of public goods and services. Spirit of patriotism and integrity seems to be eroding. We’ve been on such dangerous paths before, where corruption was almost the culture of political leadership –

A condition that brought unbearable hardship to the ordinary citizens and in some cases resulted in revolts and revolutions across the region. Let’s embrace the ideals of good democratic principles and restore hope to our people. I am still convinced we can get it right. I think we have the right fuel but good conductors are what I’m not too sure of at the moment. The problem is most good conductors don’t find the political climate in Africa quiet conducive for them to operate.

The terrain is simply rough and can get poisonous. One may ask, what would have been the picture, if Kofi Annan, Barrack Obama were political leaders for their various countries of origin in Africa? Let’s wake up! It’s unfortunate to know that, the same business and economic principles we learn in school become almost redundant when we get to political corridors. Even our foundational cultural and spiritual values are getting distorted. Which answer do we have for the next generation in these critical situations where the exact truth about economics, management and leadership is deformed? A situation where indicators of corruption are crystallized and demons are virtually canonized in the interest of power, money and political expediency. How did we get here?

When I was growing up my grandma use to say, some people don’t have the least truth in them. By this she meant that some people are pathological liars. She would reiterate that, the only truth they knew is the ordinary greetings of: good morning, good afternoon and good evening, which if it were possible, they would even change the greeting time pattern. I was younger and I felt like granny was exaggerating but gradually, I have come to see the meaning in that analogy. The lying spirit in some people is very intense and sometimes very contagious too.

Some individuals can truly lie! It is said that, some individuals would lie to themselves and listen to their lies over and over to a point that they are unable to distinguish the truth within themselves or around them. Such an individual has no respect on himself and can’t possibly respect others. The conclusion is that, such an individual ceases to love . One of the key moral and spiritual principles we need to nurture is truth. It saddens me though, to know that our level of politics in most African countries has been reduced to fabrications, blackmail, calumny, and distortion of facts for political convenience.

In the same light we have this villainous chronic tendency of a few so called elites who are specialized in confusing the masses on facts and statistics by shamelessly smearing ointment of dishonesty and injustices against few prophets of integrity in a melodramatic fashion, for political dominance and gains, as if to mean that one must be punished if he or she dares to stand for the truth.

I see these things happening each and every day, and even in the corporate world where we witness at times, the suffocation of good initiatives but just because few powerful or influential people wouldn’t let go old, bad habits. We see oligarchs in the business and political arenas who just want to maintain their old ways - resist change and helping to sustain corrupt status quos no matter the cost. Of course, this is wrong! Our political environment and climate can be more peaceable if we make efforts at the level of leadership to uphold truth with pride and with determination to pass down these virtues as traditional values to coming generations.

We must stop fooling ourselves that we are living in peace when the very foundation of peace is gradually washed away by calculated mischief. We need not be reminded that peace is not only the absence of war but rather the practical application of truth and justice. Let’s move beyond political definitions of the cost of tomatoes, pepper, flour, rice, sugar and face realities of our time.

The truth about one plus one is equal to two, and one multiplied by one is equal to one shouldn’t be a matter of debate. We must be determined not to be misdirected by a few who call themselves learned in our societies, and who sometimes would go to the extent of blindfolding us into carnage when we could simply insist on the benefits of telling the truth in various sectors of our lives and endeavours, and escape the wrath of conflicts and war. You must know these are just some ill-dividends of bad governance or misapplication of democratic values. Democracy shouldn’t be seen as a pseudo licence for perpetuating lies and committing crimes against humanity.