BusinessDay

Africa’s democracy under threat, retreating – Gbajabiamila

...says insecurity biggest threat to Africa's well-being

Femi Gbajabiamila, Speaker of the Nigerian House of Representatives says democracy is under threat and in retreat across the African continent.

Gbajabiamila said this at the opening ceremony of the conference of speakers and heads of African parliaments in Abuja on Monday.

He said; “From Sudan to Mali, Guinea and Chad, elected governments have been usurped by military juntas, overturning years of progress and the hopes of millions.”

The speaker noted that; “Even in the places where elected governments are still in charge, public faith in the governing institutions is at an all-time low.

“When citizens lose confidence that a democratic government can meet their expectations, democracy loses credibility and support and begins a death spiral. This is the reality in too many places across our continent.
Many reasons have been adduced to explain how we arrived at these dire circumstances.

“This Conference will examine some of those reasons to understand what we need to do to correct the trajectory of our countries and continent. However, Ladies and gentlemen, honourable colleagues, I want to tell you today that Africa’s destiny is not set in stone.

“Our tomorrow is a consequence of today’s choices, the commitments we make and the priorities we choose to pursue. Despite the real challenges and present dangers, this is also a time of abundant promise and possibility for us in Africa.”

Read also: The cost of nomination forms and our democracy

Gbajabiamila lamentated that the present insecurity and the rampaging uncertainty across the continent represent the single biggest threat to the well-being of Africans, especially children.

“Therefore, we must wage the battle for peace with a warrior’s resolve because everything depends on our victory over the forces that threaten our children’s future.

“Throughout history, trade and the shared prosperity that flows therefrom have proved valuable in creating the wealth of nations and ensuring peaceful coexistence,” he said.

The speaker also said as leaders in the new world, there is no decision more consequential than investing in Africa’s young people, protecting them, ensuring their health and well-being and providing them with a solid education upon which to build their future.

To deliver on this obligation, Gbajabiamila said leaders in the continent must first ensure that their nations are at peace, as that is the necessary condition for development and progress.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic had exposed the dire conditions of Africa’s social infrastructure, adding that it brought into stark relief the massive effort required to ensure that the continent is better prepared for next time.

Gbajabiamila said it is imperative that they take the opportunity of the Conference of Speakers to consider the role of African legislatures in facilitating their collective advancement and shared prosperity by ensuring the free movement of people, goods, and services across Africa.

“From that consideration, let us commit ourselves to using the tools of parliamentary diplomacy and authority to set our continent irreversibly on the path to a future of honourable peace and abiding prosperity for all.

“The motto of our Conference is ‘Strengthening legislative leadership for Africa’s development’. This is a joke statement of intent borne of the recognition that achieving the highest ambitions we have for our citizens across the continent depends on our ability to provide consequential and inspired leadership in government.

“So, in addition to all else, this Conference is an opportunity for us to learn from each other, share our experiences of challenges and successes, and build relationships that will aid each of us as we serve our people and honour the mandates entrusted to us.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we live in a time fraught with potential and danger, and every governing decision we make and every action we take has the potential to substantially remake our world for good or ill. This is, in effect, one of those defining historical moments. And when, as is inevitable, history delivers its judgment, we will either be remembered for doing the hard and necessary things that make for progress and prosperity or be reviled for squandering the opportunity of a generation,” he stated.

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