Africa: Searching For Enduring Peace, Development

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Africa desires rapid development. However, many African countries are either slow in such development or wallowing in underdevelopment in spite of years of existence and political independence, analysts say.

The have also blamed the poor pace of Africa’s development largely on political conflicts, wars and other forms of violence tormenting many of its countries.

They are of the opinion that no society can record any meaningful development in the face of such crises which result in destruction of lives and property, displacement, hunger, starvation and other ills.

They cite Somalia, Mali, Sudan, and Guinea Bissau as examples.

While Liberia, Cote D’ivoire, Sierra Leone and few others are picking up the pieces after prolonged wars, Nigeria is afflicted by bombings and other forms of violence.

Rights activist and lawyer, Mr Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) identifies bad leadership, greed, oppression and corruption as the bane of the African society.

According to him good leadership, democratic development and respect for the rule of law would minimise the conflicts.

“What we have in many African countries are leaders who divide rather than unite.

“In the end, the division turns against them, resulting in very deep crises that are difficult to manage.

Agbakoba, a former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, decries the sit-tight syndrome among some African leaders, and urges an end to that.

Social critic and lawyer, Mr Bamidele Aturu, urges enthronement of genuine democracy that will ensure that the wish of the majority is done.

“African leaders must go back to hard work and honesty which African forbears were known for,’’ he advises.

The African Regional President of the Global Peace, Chief Wilson Odum-Ojobi, is of the opinion that equity and justice will guarantee sustainable peace on the continent.

“We can say no to conflicts when we decide that every African has a stake in Africa; that is equity; by doing so, we would have carried out justice.

“When we carry out justice, there will be peace,” he says.

For a chieftain of the Congress for Progressive Change, Mr Denis Aghanya, “democratic culture and principles must reflect in our individual and collective lives; we must respect the right of one another.”

However, the National Publicity Secretary of the Democratic People’s Alliance, Mr Sam Onimisi, believes that African countries are engulfed in crises because their geo-political structures do not reflect their peoples’ diversity.

He argues that many ethnic groups merged as a country by the colonial masters were not compatible.

“Everything is wrong with our geo-political structures and administrative systems.

“Those that should be practising parliamentary system are practising presidential system and vice versa. This does not fit into our diversities,” he said.

He advises that affected countries should find out a suitable political and administrative system that will guarantee peace.

The Executive Director, Access to Justice, Mr Joseph Otteh, also recommends commitment to genuine democratic governance as a strategy to resolving ethno-religious and political conflicts plaguing Africa.

Otteh is convinced that an egalitarian and just society will accommodate the various ethnic groups within each state and country on the continent.

“The panacea to solving Africa’s problems is to improve governance and democratise access to power; hold free, credible and fair elections at regular intervals to create meaningful opportunities to public offices.

“We should create better balance in power-sharing arrangements and secure trust between constitutive ethnic groups, provide greater transparency and accountability of political office holders, and provide social justice.

“We must also ensure that the resources of the state are distributed in a just and equitable manner, and are not misappropriated by few,” he suggests.

For the Executive Director, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, African leaders should promote respect for the rule of law and socio-economic rights such as right to food, water, education and health.

“If the people have their basic rights protected in the constitution, corruption which heightens and strengthens conflicts in Africa, will be curbed,” he says.

Mr Wale Ogunade, President, Voters Awareness Initiative, an NGO, is worried that some African leaders are arrogant, and that is hindering them from rendering meaningful service that will facilitate the continent’s development.

He appeals to those in this category to purge themselves of arrogance to be able to serve the masses.

He observes that conflicts in African countries have led to brutal killings, displacements, hunger and misery which deny them peace and keeps the continent in political and economic regression.

Mr Jiti Ogunye, also a human rights activist, wants both the leadership and the led to look beyond the mistakes of the past in order to chart a better future for the continent.

“It is time we stopped blaming our colonial masters for our problems. We must look at our environment to build a better and just society.

A cleric, Monsignor Gabriel Osu, wants African leaders to have a clear vision on what they want to achieve for their peoples even before their election.

Osu, the Director of Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, says there is the need for the leaders to focus on the vision and attain it before the expiration of their tenures to be able to write their names in gold.

The cleric also urges establishment of strong institutions that will deepen democracy, promote the rights of the poor and protect the masses against oppression.

An International Relations expert, Dr Joshua Bolarinwa, is of the view that the African Union (AU) has a huge role to play in conflict resolution in Africa.

Bolarinwa wants the AU to urgently review its operational framework towards reducing conflicts and violence sweeping across the continent.

Bolarinwa, a research fellow at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs, Lagos, says AU member-states ought not to be engulfed in crises while the union exists.

“It is a sad development that African countries that have enjoyed enviable decades of peace and stability are now witnessing one form of conflicts or another.

“Since the enthronement of democracy in some parts of Africa, violence of all sorts has resulted in insecurity of lives on the continent.

“The African Union urgently needs vibrancy in responding to the unhealthy situation,”he says.

The expert who equally attributes the conflicts to poor governance, poverty, election rigging, corruption, structural defects and unemployment, urges the AU to rise to the challenge.

Bolarinwa warns that the conflicts, if not checked, will continue to expose women and children to poor living conditions because of their vulnerability.

He is optimistic that African countries will achieve sustainable peace through genuine democracy, provision of employment, poverty reduction and empowerment of security agencies.

Bolarinwa cautions against the use of small arms during elections, noting that such arms often become ready weapons during crises.

“There is the need for the African Union and the various countries’ governments to build institutions, as well as to come up with policies that will reduce violence and insecurity in our communities.

Analysts urge urgent action to resolve these conflicts, ensure security of lives and property and promote peace across African countries for sustainable development on the continent.

Popoola writes for NAN

 

Ijeoma Popoola