Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, on Thursday, in Abuja, said the multi-party system of governance was the panacea to deepening democracy on the African continent, calling for the total integration of the continent.
Akufo-Addo gave the submission while delivering the inaugural flagship lecture of the Kukah Center titled ‘How to Make Democracy Work for Africa.’
The event had in attendance, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo; former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon; Senate President Bukola Saraki, represented by Sen. Monsura Sunmonu; Governor Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State; former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Ghali Umar Na’Abba, the Metropolitan Catholic Archbishop of Abuja, John Cardinal Onaiyekan, amongst others.
The Ghanaian president used Ghana as a case study, saying that having tried everything else, Ghanaians finally reached a consensus that a multi-party system of governance was the best way to go.
He said the Ghanaian Fourth Republic has lasted for 25 years under a multi-party constitution, adding that the Ghanaian political landscape has been stable and there had been three peaceful changes of government from a ruling party to the opposition party during the fourth republic.
Said he, “I hesitate to preach to any one on this particular subject. I would only say that we in Ghana, having tried everything else, have finally reached a consensus that multi-party system of governance works best for us.
“Our fourth republic has lasted for 25 years under a multi-party constitution. Indeed, we celebrated its silver jubilee on the 7th of January. We are stable and there had been three peaceful changes of government from a ruling party to an opposition party during the fourth republic.
“I must also encourage the African Union (AU) member countries to demonstrate a commitment to strengthening and protecting the institutions and cultures of democratic governance; respecting human rights, religious freedom, the empowerment of women, and the rights of the individual and minorities, building strong market economies and facilitating the free movements of people, knowledge, goods and services across member states,” Akufo-Addo said.
The Ghanaian president added that African small countries will continue to struggle, except there is the acceleration of economic integration of committed nations, which he said, will bring new life into the AU to deliver the benefits of African integration to the doorsteps of the African people.
He said it was high time for the Africans to move on even further to deepen democracy on the continent, adding that the separation of powers amongst the different arms of government will deepen democracy on the continent.
“It is time to make sure that we have a genuine separation of powers between the various arms of governments. Our parliaments, the legislative arms of government, must grow into their proper roles as effective machineries for accountability and oversight of their executives.
“Our judiciaries must also inspire confidence in the citizens so that we can all see the cause as ultimate impartial arbiters when disputes arise as they would. It is only when our public institutions are working as they should that we would be able to confront and deal effectively with the cancer of corruption which has been the bane of our development,” the Ghanaian president added.
He commended President Muhammadu Buhari for making the systematic targeting of corruption a centre feature of his administration, saying that he deserved the support of all well-meaning Nigerians and Africans.
On the economic development of Africa, President Akufo-Addo made reference to the developmental strides of the Peoples Republic of China, which he said, was not a force to reckon with in 20, 30 years ago, but noted that today, China no longer asks for respect from other nations.
He continued, “If we work at it, if we stop being beggars, galvanise ourselves intelligently and honestly in freedom and spend Africa’s money inside the continent, Africa will not need to ask for respect,” he stated.
Speaking earlier, Akufo-Addo said no one would sort out things in Africa, except by Africans themselves.
“We must master those who come to do business with us in all the skills they possess. We must have our own set of bright and sharp lawyers, our own set of bright and sharp accountants to keep us abreast with the sharp and bright lawyers and accountants that are our trade partners are.
“In the same way, we need to have our own bright and sharp technologies to keep us abreast with our competitors,” Akufo-Addo also said.
In his remarks, Vice President Osinbajo said African elite were making democracy difficult to practise on the continent by whittling down its practice.
Osinbajo said there was no question that democracy and democratisation are challenged everywhere, even in the oldest democracies, adding that democracy is still a work-in-progress.
According to Osinbajo, “That is one of the biggest lessons of recent years as elections and referendums throw up new and unprecedented scenarios across the world.
“The narrowness of the Brexit vote and the way it has subsequently divided the United Kingdom, and the electoral rise of populist right wing and even extremist tendencies, are all examples of the grave threats to democracy.
“Indeed, recently the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), which publishes an annual democracy index, the 2017 Index ‘records the worst decline in global democracy in years. Not a single region recorded an improvement in its average score since 2016, as countless countries grapple with increasingly divided electorates.’ It is clear that democracy is in somewhat, a turbulent trajectory.
“But for Africa, challenges to democracy pose a graver threat because of a historical failure to invest sufficiently in nation building and state building. Many of the ethnic and other parochial tensions that have tended to create insecurity and outright conflict time and time again are on account of failure to deliberately undertake nation – building efforts.
“The elite, it appears, prefer the status quo which sets the lowest possible bar for political advancement that is identity politics; where do you come from? Or to which religion do you belong? And it is through that paradigm that most issues are analysed.
“So the real issues that concern our people are often diminished – good governance, jobs for a growing population of young people, poverty alleviation, peace and security, etc. Those are never properly analyzed, or even allowed to take their prominence in public debates especially in debates leading to elections,” Osinbajo said.
Osinbajo further said the forging of a national identity and purpose, built around agreed values and principles, is crucial for engendering commitment to national goals and sustaining peace and security.
On his part, the founder of the Kukah Center and Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Most Revd (Dr) Matthew Hassan Kukah, said he established the centre to espouse issues regarding the State and the Church.
Kukah added that all he had been trying to do had been to let people see what Nigeria, a great country is all about.