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Jonathan, ECOWAS, Lumumba lament threat to democracy in Africa

From Femi Folaranmi, Yenagoa

Former President of Nigeria, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, President of the Economic of West Africa States (ECOWAS) Commission, Dr Omar Alieu Touray and African scholar, Prof PLO Lumunba have lamented the threat to democracy in Africa continent.

The trio and others spoke at the Democracy Dialogue with the theme: Breaking New Grounds In the Democracy- Development Nexus in Africa organised by the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation held at the Nigerian Content Tower, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

Jonathan who spoke in his capacity as the Chairman of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation while commending the Bayelsa State Government for hosting the event noted that the GJF Annual Democracy Dialogue is an initiative of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation that brings together sstakeholders across Africa to critically examine issues of democracy, interrogate the practice in Africa and make suggestions where necessary.

He commended the enthusiasm shown by participants as a demonstration of faith in democracy and a determination to make contributions in the quest to proffer workable solutions to the challenges of leadership and democratic governance on the African continent.

According to him, the recent threat against democracy in Africa through social tension, coup d’état, insecurity and poor management of election noting that an honest conversation is needed in the bid to rejig democracy in Africa.

“The theme of the dialogue underscores the fact that we need to see democracy beyond elections and critically look at the nature of our elections and what happens after elections by way of governance.

“Leadership should work towards ensuring that democracy translates into economic wellbeing of the citizens. We need to look at the gap in our democratic systems and seek to understand why democracy in many of our societies has been unable to guarantee peace and economic growth for the citizens.

“Democracy should be able to encourage development and help ensure social growth of the society. Democracy is about the people and should be able to uplift the social condition of the citizens.

Democracy draws its strength from the people; we must work to ensure that its impact in the lives of the people is felt and appreciated.”

Touray in his goodwill message noted that the theme for the Democracy Dialogue “is most appropriate and timely as it coincides with a time when the avowed goal of entrenching democracy and sustainable peace in West Africa is being put to stern test”

“Unconstitutional change of government, which involves military coups d’etat and unconstitutional maintenance of power by incumbents have been on the rise in recent past in Africa generally in West Africa in particular. Military Coups have heightened insecurity, stagnated growth, increased poverty, inequality, and limited popular participation in governance”

Lumumba who delivered the keynote address bemoaned the crisis of development in Africa and fingered bad leadership and misinterpreting the concept of democracy for the backwardness in the continent.

He stated that Africa requires servant-leaders who place the well-being of the people as the centre of governance.