The former head of state, Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar (rtd), has said that the genesis of Africa’s political problems was “the action of its sit-tight leaders.”
According to him, the maximum rulers do all they can to amend the constitution of their countries in order to perpetuate themselves in office.
The former military leader who spoke at the annual conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said they have the tendencies to manipulate some vital democratic organs to silence those against their ambitions.
“These leaders have the tendencies to manipulate very vital democratic organs, particularly the legislature and even some times, the judiciary to suppress any dissenting voice.
“Despite all these, however, Africa is now harvesting an influx of leaders and politicians. These young people who are emerging are more educated and internationally exposed than the current old leaders we have all over Africa. And these young men and women are trying to make their marks. However, as you know, they are hampered by the high cost of electioneering in developing countries and indeed the world,” he said.
Abubakar, while giving accounts earlier on the process that led to the transfer of power to a democratically elected leader in 1999, said when he was appointed to lead the country in 1998; it was observed that there was political apathy and that the political class was already fatigued, with some voices wanting a return of the country to parliamentary system.
Also at the conference, former chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Professor Attahiru Jega, stressed that while strong leaders and institutions are important for political transition, emphasis should not be placed on the strength of the leader at the detriment of the leader’s competence and disposition.
“To my mind, we need strong institutions, we need strong leadership; but, it is not just the strength of the leader that we require. What we require most is the competence and the capacity of that leader to take decisions and to be assertive in ensuring that those decisions are actually implemented.
“So we have to be very careful in thinking that strong leaders can really help. Just as a weak leader can wreck an institution, a strong leader who has just that power and courage, if he lacks capacity, ability and competence to lead, he could also wreck strong institutions. So, it is very important that we recognise this important aspect of the leadership that we require,” he said.
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