Vice president Yemi Osinbajo has said that democracy is not developing as it should in Africa because of manipulation by the elite.
Mr. Osinbajo stated this Thursday while delivering an address at the inaugural lecture of the Kukah Centre with the theme: How to make democracy work for Africa, which held at the Shehu Yaradua centre, Abuja.
Mr. Osinbajo said although democracy suffered setback across the globe in recent years, “challenges to democracy pose a graver threat because of a historical failure to invest sufficiently in nation building and state building”.
He said many of the ethnic and other “parochial tensions” that have tended to create insecurity and outright conflict are on account of failure to deliberately undertake nation-building efforts.
“The elite, it appears prefer the status quo which sets the lowest possible bar for political advancement that is identity politics; where do you come from? Or to which religion do you belong?
“And it is through that paradigm that most issues are analysed. So the real issues that concern our people are often diminished – good governance, jobs for a growing population of young people, poverty alleviation, peace and security, etc.
“Those are never properly analysed, or even allowed to take their prominence in public debates especially in debates leading to elections,” he said.
Mr. Osinbajo said it has become imperative for the deliberate forging of a national identity and purpose, built around agreed values and principles.
He said that is the only way to engender commitment to national goals and sustain peace and security across the continent.
Concerning state building, Mr. Osinbajo said, it depends on the capacity to which a government is able to deliver on the rule of law, law and order, good governance and social goods.
“It is clear that extreme inequality, weak systems of justice, absence of the rule of law, lack of state capacity to maintain law and order, put nations constantly under a real threat of coming undone.
“That is the African story, democracy yes, elections yes, but the question of state building and the capacity of the state to deliver on its most important role which is security and ensuring justice and the rule of law, is often threatened because we simply have not invested enough in the institutions that make this possible,” he said.
Narrowing down to Nigeria, Mr. Osinbajo said the APC administration of which he is the second-in-command faces the problem of weak policing as it seeks to ensure security for Nigerians.
He also said the perception of the citizens on the efficiency and fairness of the justice system is affected by the slow pace of trials and the manipulation of the systems by those who can afford superior legal representation.
“So you find that we have an anti-corruption war but questions remain as to how many people have been convicted?
“But the system can easily be manipulated because you put people on trial, but the trials can go on forever; we have a system that enables people to employ dilatory tactics. We need to strengthen the systems that people can rely and trust,” he said.
The solution, according to Mr. Osinbajo is to build a modern state where “merit-driven bureaucracy, a strong law and order architecture, the rule of law, and an adjudicatory system that is well resourced and immune to manipulation” is enshrined.
The key note address was delivered by the president of Ghana, Nana Akufo-Addo.
Mr. Osinbajo quoted tweets by the Ghanaian president in which he wrote about where Africa should be headed in the next few years.
“It is time for Africa to come of age and hold its rightful place on the world stage. This Africa will be neither victim nor a pawn. This Africa will be honest to itself and to the World.”
The Nigerian Vice President said he agreed entirely with Mr. Akufo-Addo and stressed that “the African leadership elite have run out of excuses, we can no longer go on with the African exceptionalism which we have seen and heard time and time again, that it is a different rule for Africa or different rules apply to Africa, no that is not true!
“The truth is just as President Akufo- Addo said, we can no longer hide under the excuses of being victims or pawns in the world order. The people of our nations expect us to deliver on the important promises that politicians make which is delivering social goods, ensuring our ever growing youth population get jobs, ensuring there is rule of law and security,” he said.
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