Africa Presidents are notoriously known for their power ‘drunk’ and desperation to stick to power when given opportunities to rule. For most of the African countries, since the time of their independence, they have been ruled by men with authoritarian ideas. People of this character enjoy curious popularity and refuse to realize or recognize their stolen election victories. They do not even care to notice how their countries are growing under their rule.
Few African governments are peacefully voted out of office. This is because term limits were enshrined in several African constitutions in the 1980s, which helped to change the trend. In theory most Africans have the freedom to vote out their rulers, but in practice they find it difficult to do so.
This is why President Barrack Obama of the United States of America recently called on African President s to respect their constitutions and step down when their terms end. In a keynote address to the African union (AU) member-nations in July 2015, Obama said “I just don’t understand the phenomenon of leaders who refuse to step aside when their terms end. No one should be president for life.”
“There is still so much I want to get done to keep America moving forward, but the law is the law and no one is above it, not even presidents”, he said.
While reacting to Obama’s remarks during a joint news conference with his Kenyan counterpart, Uhuru Kenyatta, Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni said Obama and other western leaders must respect the popular will of African people who ‘democratically’ vote their leaders to power through regular elections.
His words; “Those who focus, on term limits; we don’t think they are correct. Africa is not a back world because of term limits, but because of its lack of federation, common market, infrastructure and security. I don’t know what he meant. I don’t care, that is none of my business, for us in Uganda, we rejected this business of term limits”.
Museveni added “if I am in power because I am voted by the people, then I am there by the will of the people. I have no apology to make to Obama. It’s only the US that has term limits. Look at Israel, UK and Germany, they don’t have term limits”.
“Look at Tunisia, with confusion from some western countries, they voted for a man of 88 years old. They were stuck, having made a lot of mistakes, he said. Museveni who has been in power since 1986, just recently picked his ruling National Resistance Movement Party nomination form to run as its presidential flag bearer for the fifth term in office in the 2016 polls.
President Kenyatta in his response told journalists that the popularity of a leader in a country is not determined by term limits. “If Ugandans have chosen no term limits, I don’t see the problem with it. If its people desire, you must abide by the will of the people. We need to respect the democratic will of the people in the country or region, Kenyatta stressed.
He insisted that what must be respected is the popular will of the people, adding that the popularity is all about how much peace, development, progress and stability you give to your people. “We must focus on prosperity for our people, infrastructure, federation and security”, he said.
A typical example of what President Obama said is clearly seen with Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe who has been in power since 1980 when the struggle for freedom from white rule ended. Mugabe is one of the last reigning members of the first generation of post-independence African leaders, and he rules in a way that suggests he has not learned much from his contemporaries mistakes.
Because of his high-handedness and bad governance, Zimbabweans are made poorer than they were at independence. Most of his people have made several attempts to oust him but could not because he rigs elections to keep himself in power. Mugabe rules like the guerrilla commander he once was and regards his opponents as enemies to be crushed.
Kwame Nkurumah of Ghana set the pace for term elongation, imposing a one-party system on the country. Other African leaders followed suit, declaring that their own irremovable governments would henceforth control everything of importance.
African governments pay no heed to democracy, hence the people are marginalized in the quest for their development. They pay less attention to the realities of their countries and the people, and tend to look at things not as they are but as they might be according to their values.
President such as Zambia’s Frederick Chiluba and Kenya’s Daniel arap Moi were forced out of office, just as Nigeria’s former President Olusegun Obasanjo when he wanted to rule beyond the stipulated two terms.
Sadly, rulers like Robert Mugabe fight fiercely and cunningly to resist the popular will of the people. Unchecked power is a swift route to wealth, especially in countries well endowed with abundant natural resources. When people can freely ditch their rulers, it gives those rulers an incentive to govern a bit better. In most African countries, the best chance of proper reform comes with a change of government, although new leaders are not always better.
In Rwanda, main opposition party, the Democratic Green Party recently opened a case in the Supreme Court seeking to prevent constitutional change that would allow President Paul Kagame to run for a third term seven-year in office. Senior members of the ruling party had urged the scrapping of the two-term limit and parliament said it would debate public petitions calling for Kagame to stay beyond 2017.
Kagame had said he opposes a change but is “open” to being convinced. The court was quickly adjourned after the lawyer for the Democratic Green party failed to appear. A party official said lawyers had been fearful about talking on the case. Rights groups say critics and free speech are stifled in that country.
Term limits can, however, be scrapped, as happened in Namibia but it must be noted that changing constitutions is harder than changing laws. Term limits act as a check on the big man’s power, so vampire governments must give up the very powers that enable them to feed on their fellow citizens. The African vampire country or state is hard to reform because most necessary reform would reduce the power and wealth of the people in power, and the people in charge do not, on the whole, want to loose their privileges.
In Mexico, for example, there is a tradition that presidents must step down after a single six-year term. For 6 years, a single person rules, the party chooses another person to serve the next six years.
Governments are supposed to represent the entire population of the country they rule. In some cases, it is perceived that authoritarian governments find it easier to get people out of poverty than democratic ones, but then there are many authoritarian countries, for example, Zimbabwe, Zaire and North Korea which have not done so well. In the actual sense, Africa cannot deal with the crisis of underdevelopment without embracing democracy at any rate and abandoning the legacy of authoritarianism.
Better governance is the primary requirement for economic recovery in Africa. The continent is not economically developed and none of the dependent or the independent variables currently prevails in Africa. It is still at the stage of transition, so the leaders must bother about the conditions of their people, and ensure that they step down at the end of their term to give others the opportunities to taste power.
The debate about term limits and challenges to veteran leaders has flared in several places in Africa and the United States and other Western nations have been pressing African leaders to stick to constitutional rules on presidential terms.
Pay Attention To Vehicles Carrying Scraps
To create wealth out of waste seems to have become an economic trend aimed at depopulating the labour market. This is no less a noble idea. As a result of this innovation, it has become a common sight beholding big trucks conveying scraps from one point of the town to another.
However, it smacks of security lapses should these scrap-ladden trucks be granted easy passage on the highways unchecked. This is because Nigerians can take advantage of such freedom to pass incriminating elements. This alone constitutes serious threat to our security .
In this era of insecurity in the country, the right thing is that every vehicle should be checked and certify safe before being allowed to proceed to its destination.
By: Philip Ejiogu, Owerri.
Take Coronavirus Seriously
Human nature generally is wont to trivializing issues which impact is not directly felt. When catastrophes are announced from afar, they either constitute a spectacle to be viewed by others and probably be amused by it, or a trend that attracts public discussion.
This has been the case with outbreaks of deadly diseases across the globe at different point in time and the attendant attitude of the people towards it. Today, the world’s attention is drawn towards Corona Virus, currently ravaging China.
Zoonotic as it was known, meaning normally transmitted between animals and people. The novel Coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain of the virus that has not been previously identified in humans. For this novel coronavirus (nCoV), both zoonotic and person- to-person transmission has been confirmed.
At the moment, the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), officially named as Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO), has spread to 26 more countries apart from China, alarming public health authorities across the world.
A total of 69,256 (including 68,566 in China, Hong Kong and Macau) confirmed cases of novel coronavirus infection including 1,669 deaths (one each in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Japan and France) have been reported across the world.
As at yesterday, out of the 68,566 confirmed cases in China, 11,272 are reported to be severe cases.This is indeed, a public health emergency of international concern which further international exportation of cases may not be ruled out in any country.
Thus, even though no strict travel or trade restriction is recommended based on the current information available, the possibility of interrupting spread is still high should countries put in place strong measures to detect disease early, isolate and threat cases, trace contacts and promote social distancing measures commensurate with the risk. The Public Health Emergency Operation Centres (PHEOCs) already established in 22 states of the federation would be tantamount to an effort in futility if they are not worth their raison d’etre.
By: Helen Peterson, Bonny.
Release Students’ Results On Time
The issue of delaying the release of students results in our tertiary institutions has become a case to worry about. Some students hardly know their academic performance status until late. Some have had to carry over courses for semesters and sessions unknown to them.
This has caused victims staying longer years in school remedying courses that ordinarily they would have sorted out earlier, had they known about it in good time. Those with plans to change their course of study after one year of academic activities, miss this process because results are not released as expected.
Schools’ examination results that were hitherto published on departmental notice boards as prompt as possible to enable students know their status in good time and decide on what next plan to take to better their academic performance, is gradually becoming history.
The most alarming is that even upon graduation, instead of releasing final year students’ examinations results promptly, lecturers take more than enough time to submit their marks and care less about the implication of the delay on the students.
Truth is that this trend has robbed many victims the opportunity of proceeding for the compulsory National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) like their colleagues in other institutions. Many of our graduates lose opportunities for job elsewhere because their schools failed to release their results on time.
Some who missed the privilege of procceeding for the compulsory one year national service, due to delayed result, end up being cut off by age, and are eventually subjected to asking for NYSC exemption letter if they must proceed in their chosen careers.
In the light of the evil this emerging trend portends to the society, it is imperative that stake holders in education, nip it in the bud before more havoc is wreaked
By: Timothy Njoku, Umuahia.
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