• Tuesday, March 05, 2024
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Lumumba, Abah seek alignment of Africa’s democracy with current realities

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Patrick Lumumba, a former director of Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission, said it was important for African countries to allow the current circumstances surrounding their nations inform how democracy is viewed.

According to Lumumba, Africa has gotten to a stage it appears the continent can no longer handle elections as suggested by its colonial masters, stressing that the time has come to ask if it could handle elections the manner that was prescribed by the west.

The legal luminary, who made this known while sharing his thoughts as the guest speaker at the 2019 edition of Aelex Annual Lecture in Lagos on Wednesday, joined other discussants at a panel to chart ways for strengthening democracy in the continent.

The lecture themed “Strong men vs. Strong Institutions: Strengthening Democracy in Africa” was chaired by Justice Aloma Mariam Mukhtar, a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, and other discussants including Joe Abah, ,, and Fola Arthur-Worrey, a former Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) and Solicitor-General of Lagos State.

Lumumba noted that time has come for African nations to think of a method of putting their leaders into office in a manner that is unique to their circumstance, adding that these methods must constantly evolve as their realities change.

One must be alive to the diversity of Africa and the fact that various African societies have a system of governance working, the Kenyan Professor said. ”Most were also organised in various unique ways.”

He pointed out that these would help the countries build strong institutions in their lands, which would ultimately aid the success of their leaders while in office.

“Time has come Africa must redefine ourselves, redefine our democracy, recognize that good strong men are useful in any institution,” he said.  “Those strong men and women must be subject to the law and they must be under institutions because men and women have short lives, institutions can exist in a time.”

Lumumba further explained that even though Nigeria gained independence many decades ago, the nation still depends on the dictates and the definitions of its colonial masters, thereby impacting negatively on it and its masses.

“The colonialism disrupted all they met on the ground,” he said, adding that most African countries we talk about today, except, perhaps Ethiopia and Liberia, were all colonial contraptions.

Also speaking, Abah noted many countries have achieved several feats in reducing poverty without practising democracy as defined by the west, even while many countries in Africa were yet to record any significant improvement in fighting against the scourge despite sticking to the democracy as defined by the west.

He, however, enjoined African nations to change their perspectives about colonialism, noting that even the colonial masters played some major roles in the past, the countries must learn to do the right thing to succeed.

“We continually give excuses for our refusal to take the right steps and do the things that are good for our people,” Abah said. “We can say it is colonialism, democracy or even as far back as slave trade, and say that is the reason we are where we are.”

“We have given too many excuses, I believe even in an imperfect system, we can get things to work. We still have people in Nigeria like Nuhu Ribadu, Dora Akunyili getting things to work, and even people like Yemi Kale, who stood against institutions that expect thing not to work,” he stated further.

However, on his part, Arthur-Worrey maintained that Africans have gone passed reviewing Africa’s definition of democracy as the continent has long forgotten the memories of the old institutions.

According to him, Africans have to learn to deal with the modern institutions that they inherited. “Most young Africans hold the west in reverence,” he said. “Because of the massive diversity across Africa which has been compounded by more fundamental strands of religion,” he pointed out that it would be very challenging to ignore the western institutions.