Former president Goodluck Jonathan has called on African leaders to identify gaps and seek to understand why democracy has failed to guarantee peace and economic growth for their citizens.
He said the mere show of appreciation and support for coup d’etat shows that Africa needs to rejig its democracy.
Jonathan stated this in his address as chairman at the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) Democracy Dialogue Series: “Breaking New Grounds in the Democracy Development Nexus in Africa,” at the Local Content Tower Conference Hall in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.
He said the GJF annual democracy dialogue is an initiative that brings together stakeholders across Africa to examine issues of democracy and crisis in the continent towards proffering solutions.
Jonathan pointed out that the theme of the dialogue underscored the fact that the people need to see democracy beyond elections and what happens after by the way of good governance.
He said, “Democracy in the continent has gone through a period of crises that thrive by social tension, coup d’etat, insecurity and poor management of the electoral process, which in itself is a threat to our democracy in Africa.”
“The challenges of poverty and unemployment and non-alignment of basic economic rights have created a crisis of trust in the hearts of citizens for the role and impact of democracy in our society.
“These issues have gone to question the fate of our democracy as well as impact on the peace, security and development of the continent. Leadership should ensure that democracy translates into economic wellbeing of the citizens,” he said.
In his keynote address, Prof Patrick Lumumba, 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.
In his remarks, 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.
Also, 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.
In her goodwill message, the 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.
The panel discussants were former president of Sierra Leone, Bai Koroma, former vice president of the Gambia, Fatuomata Tambajang, Prof Ibaba Samuel Ibaba and Amb Joe Keshi among others.
Dignitaries at the event included Dame Patience Jonathan, Dr Gloria Diri as well as Edo State governor, Godwin Obaseki, Bayelsa deputy governor, Sen Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, deputy governors of Oyo and Bauchi states, serving and former national and state lawmakers, King Alfred Diete-Spiff, King Bubaraye Dakolo, King Joshua Igbugburu among other traditional rulers.