African leaders need democratic thinking

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has expressed grave concern about the rate of coups d’etat and the manipulation of constitutions by incumbent governments on the African continent.

The President was reported yesterday as having expressed his concern at a three-day reflective forum organised by the AU Peace and Security Council in Accra, which brought together governance and security experts on the continent to find solutions to the problems.

He said the resurgence of coup d’etats was a setback to development and called on all stakeholders to help address it to accelerate socio-economic advancement of the continent.

He provided other reasons such as some African leaders hankering for authoritarian rule but adducing the claim that Africa was underdeveloped and democracy was cumbersome and that there was the need to get things done in a hurry.

President Akufo-Addo made a point that there was the need to convince such leaders that the continent was safer under democratic rule than authoritarian leadership.

Citing a report by the African Centre for Strategic Studies, the President said some 24 African countries had resisted efforts to institute limits to the terms of constitutional rule and that in most of the instances the incumbents had argued that the basis for hanging on to power was in response to popular pressure by their people to remain in office and their term limits have no meaning in poor underdeveloped society where uplifting citizens is of the highest priority.

President Akufo-Addo said other such leaders also believed that they should remain in office if they continued winning elections, which elections and the processes leading to them were alleged to be fraught with widespread irregularities though.

The points raised by President Akufo-Addo constitute very useful information as it is coming from him as an African leader, probably one among a few, who wishes that Africa would one day become an oasis of peace, stability and good life for her peoples no matter where they live on the continent.

The content of the President’s message in a way points to the fact that African leaders are experts in smooth speech that borders on populism and sophistry.

If it were not populism and sophistry, how on earth would any president who claims popular support to manipulate the constitution to remove the limit on his terms in office face opposition from any quarters in his country?

It is sad that due to the phenomenon of sovereignty, African leaders do not gather the boldness to tell their peers to avoid undemocratic acts.

However, when the worst happens and soldiers come in as in Chad, for instance, then other African leaders come in to put pressure on the juntas to leave power.

Times are changing and the only way to ensure the benefits of democracy on the African continent is telling African leaders that in spite of their sovereignty and territorial independence, whatever happens in their domains affects other sovereigns and so they should adopt the thinking in vogue, which is now democracy.

For instance, due to political instability and maladministration, citizens of other African countries troop to neighbouring countries where they perceive they can find some solace and most of the time, these displaced people come to compound problems in their host nations but they cannot be expelled because of circumstances at home.

Unfortunately, those who could not leave their beloved countries stay back and suffer all the harsh conditions, including hunger, loss of livelihood, squalor and internal displacement.

What is annoying is that while their people suffer, African leaders and their cronies stay safe somewhere and lead life as usual without caring about their insensitivity and absurdity.

It’s about time African leaders stuck to their mandate of taking their people out of squalor, creating opportunities for them to improve their lives and avoiding authoritarianism and manipulation of their constitutions to perpetuate their stay in power.

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