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African leaders tasked on racism, probity, civil rule

By Kehinde Olatunji (Lagos) and Julius Osahon (Yenagoa)
01 December 2021   |   2:53 am
African leaders have been urged to speak against racial discrimination and police brutality of blacks at the virtual “Summit for Democracy” held between December 9 and 10 in the United States of America.

African leaders have been urged to speak against racial discrimination and police brutality of blacks at the virtual “Summit for Democracy” held between December 9 and 10 in the United States of America.

The event, to be hosted by President Joe Biden, would be graced by leaders, members of the private sector and civil society organisations that are to express views on how to confront the challenges democracy is facing in the world.

The member representing Gwer East/Gwer West Federal Constituency of Benue State in the House of Representatives, Mark Gbillah, urged African leaders to seize the opportunity to speak truth to America and point out flaws in its democracy.

He said recent happenings had shown that the American democracy had its own fundamental flaws, especially its collegiate system of electing the President, which he argued denies the majority from deciding who becomes U.S. leader.

In a chat with The Guardian, Gbillah submitted: “America has shown now that racism has trumped their human rights belief and inclination – what that means is that – America is free based on your race, your skin and colour. If you are black, you are not as free as a white American. Black parents now caution their children about how to walk at night and where to go because they know white policemen always do racial profiling and that is the biggest problem in America now. The profile you based on race.”

He said African leaders should be more interested in American technology and not how democracy is practised in the country.

“Let us establish some fundamental truths. What America has is a system in terms of election process and technology that works. But the participants in that process are flawed in terms of ideology and their racial biases. When you take that into consideration, they are not in a position to say they are exporting their style of democracy to Africa,” the lawmaker stated.

Also speaking, a pro-democracy activist, Dr. Kayode Adeniran, advised African leaders to devise means of developing a “home-grown” democracy that takes into account the peculiar circumstances in Africa.
SIMILARLY, the West African Elders Forum has called on the continent’s leaders to make deliberate efforts at sustaining democracy through accountability and strengthening of state institutions.

The leaders, who spoke at an online conversation tagged: ‘Political Competition as a Trigger for Instability in Africa’ organised by the forum in collaboration with the Yale International Leadership Centre, maintained that the second largest continent in the world must look inwards to solve its political problems.

The forum, an initiative of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, while stating that political competition is a trigger to instability on the continent, urged the leaders to be accountable, inclusive and just with a view to sustaining democracy and maintaining peace across nations.

Former President Ernest Bai Kiroma of Sierra Leone, who was a panelist said: “I hold the view that as leaders, you have to be accountable to your people. Where there is an effective means of holding leaders accountable, there is always an opportunity to review their performances without any difficulty. But when leaders go into the office and ignore the promises made to their people, it causes a lot of problems.”