High moral principles and professional standards for truth and transparency is uncommon with some world leaders and most importantly our own ‘African Kings’. It is important to note that to lead is to direct and influence the people, but the ideals for leadership and power have been abused by leaders in the past which led to the invasion of nations that govern with absolute dictatorship such as Iraq, Libya, Syria, amongst others. Recalling the Arab Spring that swept part of the middle east and north African states remains crucial towards changing the narrative that many leaders have done their best, and have done so well for their people but have fallen due to lack of freedom in their leadership styles. The Arab spring gave a clearer understanding that Human dignity, mutual respect for individual or systems and simple sensitivity are necessary ingredients for a stable society and nation. (Yusuf J. Gandu.The Arab Spring: Kaduna, 2012)
It is indeed rear to point out African leaders that claim to practice the so called ‘democracy’ diligently and according to their respective federal constitution without manipulating the system for personal interests. We have had leaders amending the constitution over and over again so as to stay in power, whereas when it becomes required of them to go, they influence the electoral process to field in a successor. The case for Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo and the third term agenda in 2007 speaks clearly of that. In Egypt, the Mubarak sons were poised to succeed their father Hosni Mubarak who had been president for three decades since the assassination of President Anwar el-Sadat in 1981. And Just of recent, the 2018 revolution in Zimbabwe whereas first lady Grace Mugabe was keen to take over from the 93 years old leader who had been in charge for too long Until the armed forces resolved to kick him out. A nation isn’t a private enterprise, Is it?
By comparing and contrasting, one can easily say that only a few African states are consistent in democracy whereas others only claim to run a democratic government, however, others do not practice real and transparent democracy. With the likes of Botswana (oldest and most stable democracy on the continent according to “face2faceAfrica.com”), Senegal, Tanzania, Kenya, Zambia… followed by the likes of Ghana, South Africa, Nigeria. Seen as the most consistent democracies following constant transition of power. (Mark Babatunde, FaceToFaceAfrica: Dec 2016). Conversely, likes of Yoweri Museveni who took power in 1986 and for the next three decades he has been in charge of Uganda, Paul Kagame who became president in 1996 and still in charge of Rwanda until date. President Denis Sassou is no any different, by the time his current tenure expires in 2021 he will be clocking 36 years as president of Congo. And so on with same likes of Paul Biya (Cameroon), Omar al-Bashar (Sudan), Idriss Deby (Chad). This is indeed proving of how leaders especially those of the third world fail to exhibit high democratic values. In Nigeria, during the buildup to the 2015 general elections, there were projections within and abroad that this will be a new era of change with Muhammadu Buhari as head of government taking yet another shot of the Presidency since 2003 and of course labelled as one with so much “integrity”. Three years later, Nigeria is not in any way a better country than it was with insecurity at its highest level since the civil war. The 75 years old president who assured the electorates of running for only a single term, he’s declared to run for re-election amidst unstable health and most importantly, an extremely poor performance with regards to the economy not to mention disregard for the rule of law.
Furthermore, I believe that Africa expects more from leaders. The continent needs a new species of leaders that live, speak, walk and talk AFRICA! Samora Michel is gone, Thomas Sankara is gone, Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, Gamal Abdul Nasser of Egypt gone. These were leaders who made sacrifices for a modern Africa to emerge. Personally, I am not against Presidents being in power for too long… I am only against being in power for too long and with nothing to show for. Jomo Kenyatta was a bit reluctant in giving up power but was able to pursue a pro-western, Anti-communist economic philosophy and foreign policy, also oversaw his country’s admission to the UN. In the case of Kwame Nkrumah, He championed the Organization of African Unity (OAU) which later became African Union (AU), not only was he outspoken on the advocacy for Pan-Africanism, he assisted and contributed towards the independence of some African states governed by colonial rule to unite as “United States of Africa”. (HowAfrica, https://howafrica.com/ 2016)
In conclusion, the force that seeks to redefine African politics and improved leadership is by moving beyond the divide between the old and the new ways and trying to find new solutions to political problems. Gone are the days of Azikiwe of Africa and the others who struggled to build a foundation of what we all stand on today. There must be a paradigm shift in the approach to governance. The younger generation should be able to create brighter solutions. While the aim here is not to call for a revolution, the truth remains that Africa has gone beyond being led by older and tyrannical leaders. Asides staying too long in office, they have turned their countries into private businesses whereas family and friends run a government with no room for opposition parties or groups. The world must be free, therefore custodians of “Freedom and Good Governance” must hand it over back to the people even if against their interests.
-dogaraUnyemCaesar writes from Kaduna state, Nigeria
-Nigeria Youth Project (NYP)