‘Why elections are violent in Africa’
CAMPAIGNS and elections in Africa are violent because politicians have refused to show sportsmanship and caution in their activities.
This was the view of a Ghanaian octogenarian and elder statesman, Mr. Kofi Atiemo Gyan, while reflecting on the state of affairs in Africa and Nigeria in particular.
While also blaming the bloody struggle for power among politicians on the inordinate ambition to either become president, governor or senator or acquire wealth in a hurry, Gyan who spoke recently at an event to mark his during his 80th birthday said he has been resident in Nigeria for over 33 years. Gyan said that though he is happy to become an octogenarian in his adopted home, Nigeria, he is also worried that the country’s politicians seem not to have learnt from history as they appear not to have risen above ethnic politics, hate-speech and incitement during campaigns.
The lawyer-octogenarian believes that there are decent and committed Nigerians who are willing to lead by examples but are not given the opportunity to be in corridors of power because they do not have the financial power to contest elections.
The Ghanaian elder statesman, who was also a member of the delegates that came to Nigeria in the 1970s when ECOWAS was being formed, advocated that Nigeria should adopt part-time legislature where Assembly members would be paid only sitting allowance. He said: “I want to say that Nigeria is not yet matured for this type of democracy. I’m sure people do not understand the principles of democracy…for instance, enmity should not exist between Mr. A and Mr. B just because they belong to different parties. Rather, they should regard themselves as brothers. But what goes on here is a situation where political opponents seek means to liqidate each other. This is a wrong way to practise democracy.”
While expressing displeasure at the rate of growth and development in Nigeria, the Ghanaian-born lawyer believes that the nation’s resources are not being properly channeled to put the country in its rightful position in the comity of nations.
“Nigeria has everything at its disposal: manpower, natural resources, name it, but the leaders are not doing well. For example, I have been here for 33 years and I’m yet to see electricity being fixed, I expect the government to be able to provide basic social amenities and infrastructure,” said Gyan.
He said his criticism of Nigerian politicians is motivated by his passion for a country that has become his home. Notwithstanding all the above he sees a bright future for Nigeria. “There is always a ray of hope for Nigeria because the crop of up-coming youths are having a mindset that is hungry for change.”
Gyan says Africa must unite and speak with one voice at all levels, including the United Nations. “They may be trying at the United Nations level but my worry is that there are external forces that always divide African leaders. This is easy because some of our leaders are stooges who are readily used by these external forces.”