Erudite political scientist and Nigerian-born election expert, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu says African countries must change their approach to governance and participation in politics by building strong institutions that endure. ?There are hardly any institutions and systems whether you call it health care that can take care of basic needs of the people; neither are there structures: executive and legislative bodies that cooperate with one another to serve the people?, Nwosu said.


From Cairo to Cape Town and from the Sahel to the Horn of Africa, the picture is the same: a continent grappling with free, fair, and frequent elections and protracted transition of power from one elected administration to another.

Prof. Nwosu the guest of New York-based media and public policy think tank ? Center for Media & Peace Initiatives drew the attention of his audience to the democratic struggles of post independent African states. He distinguished the difference between what he phrased as ?flag independence? and true liberation of the continent including Liberia currently being ravaged by inadequate health institutions amid the spread of Ebola disease.

Speaking on ?Electoral Reforms and Appropriate Political Order in Africa: Developing a Tested Model for Emerging Democracies?, Dr. Nwosu who Chaired the Nigerian Electoral Commission that conducted the historic June 12, 1993 presidential election in Nigeria lamented the penchant among some African leaders to ignore the verdict of the electorate.

Nwosu declared: ?If people, during elections cannot change leaders when they choose and without violence, that is a symptom of development crises and regrettably that is where Africa is today?. ?Liberia 167 years after independence, Nigeria, Kenya, Congo, Ghana, Egypt, Zambia, Central African Republic, and so on, what is the actual state of our independence 60 or 50 years after; what is the actual condition of institutions of governance in these countries?, Nwosu queried?

The situation is not something to write home about, Nwosu responded, because as he put it: ?You cannot pursue real development without having institutions, governments, legislatures, and systems that can transit from one another without violence; where leadership can change without violence where sovereignty belong to the people; if people cannot change leaders through peaceful methods, we are not there?.

How do we change political leadership because if leaders cling to power they will not be there for the people?s interests but for other interests?

Nwosu conceded that the process of building institutions with legitimacy was still at an infant stage in Africa but the information revolution enabled by Social media is changing the landscape of governance because it enables young people to know what is happening around the world and consequently they want good life, want to go to school, jobs, peace and order and respected as individuals; basic amenities.

In the hour long presentation, Nwosu provided insight into why elections are rigged in Africa and the necessary reforms needed to change the perennial electoral nightmare in Africa. He regretted that the majority of the current leadership in Africa doesn?t have the political will to carry out the necessary reforms because of the way most of them came to power and the machinations employed to retain power.

In his first public speech at an international forum in New York since the annulment of the June 12 in 1993 presidential election by the defunct military administration of General Babangida, Nwosu acknowledged that the election hitherto considered inconclusive was in fact won by the late Chief M.K.O Abiola.

Nwosu mentioned names of prominent Nigerians who played infamous roles in the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election including David Mark, the present president of Nigerian Senate, the upper legislative chamber of the country?s National Assembly.

The former Chairman of Nigerian Electoral Commission, however, noted that the division in the military at the time resulted in the annulment of the election (adjudged the freest in Nigeria?s history) especially with the inordinate ambition of the late General Sani Abacha whom Nwosu believed wanted to become head of state at all costs.

He narrated his ordeal with the then Armed Forces Ruling Council and how he invited himself to a crucial meeting a day to the June 12 1993, telling the audience that he rejected calls for the military hierarchy to cancel the election less than 24 hours to the scheduled date of the election. Already, that historic moment in Nigeria?s history is documented in a book authored by Nwosu himself ?Laying the Foundation for Nigeria?s Democracy: My account of June 12, 1993 Presidential Election and its Annulment? available for sale onwww.cmpimedia.org.

Source: Center For Media And Peace Initiatives


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