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Jonathan, Other African Leaders Brainstorm on Continent’s Democracy, Development

The former President said the annual dialogue was an initiative that brought together stakeholders across Africa.

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Issues bordering on incessant military coups, democracy and crisis in African were the talking points among African leaders, on Thursday, in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital, as former President Goodluck Jonathan and other African leaders brainstorm towards proffering solutions to catalyse its development.

The African leaders including renowned lawyer and pan-Africanist, Prof. Patrick Lumumba, spoke during the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation Democracy Dialogue Series: ‘Breaking New Grounds in the Democracy Development Nexus in Africa,’ at the Local Content Tower Conference Hall in Yenagoa.

The panel discussants were former president of Sierra Leone, Bai Koroma; former Vice President of the Gambia, Fatuomata Tambajang; Prof Ibaba Samuel Ibaba and Ambassador Joe Keshi, among others

Other dignitaries at the event included Dame Patience Jonathan, Dr Gloria Diri as well as Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki; Bayelsa Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo; deputy governors of Oyo and Bauchi States, serving and former national and state lawmakers, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, King Bubaraye Dakolo, and King Joshua Igbugburu, among other traditional rulers.

Jonathan, who was also the chairman and founder of the foundation, said the annual dialogue was an initiative that brought together stakeholders across Africa to examine issues of democracy and crisis in the continent.

Jonathan said, “Democracy on the continent has gone through a period of crises that thrives by social tension, coup d’etat, insecurity and poor management of electoral process, which in itself is a threat to our democracy in Africa.

“The challenges of poverty and unemployment and non-attainment of basic economic rights has created a crisis of trust in the hearts of citizens on the role and impact of democracy in our society.

“These issues have begun to question the fate of democracy as well as impact on the peace, security and development of the continent.”

Lumumba, in his keynote address, suggested that Africans should look inward to solve their problems, adding that the sit-tight African leaders were responsible for the frequent coups in the continent.

He said development would never come except Africa was well governed by its leaders and stop receiving instructions from governments of other continents.

Lumumba said, “Good governance is what Africa needs to develop and the time is now. African institutions must not receive instructions outside the continent.

“The time is now for us not to think we are only good, when we receive approvals  from Heads of State of other countries. The time is now for Nigeria, particularly to rise to the occasion, as one in every five black man in the world is a Nigerian and Nigeria must not let us (Africa) down.”

The Olu of Warri, His Majesty Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko, Ogiame Atuwatse III, noted that the interest of the people should be paramount in whatever system of government that is adopted, whether traditional or democracy.

President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, Dr Omar Touray, blamed the lack of development in Africa on weak institutions that have failed to hold leaders accountable.

 Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed, called for strengthening of democratic institutions through  inclusiveness of women, youths and the vulnerable in the society.

 Bayelsa State Governor, Douye Diri, invited the international community to observe the November 11 governorship election in the state in order to protect the integrity of the process.

 He said the decision to re-elect him or choose a governor for the state should be the people’s prerogative but expressed concern that some of his opponents were resorting to violence, intimidation and brigandage to subvert the will of the people.

Olusegun Samuel

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