Democracy a mismatch in Africa – Action Aid

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By: Joy Odor/Kaduna

Monday, 6/8/2018

The Policy Campaign Advocacy Officer of Action Aid, Mr. Agenyi Arome has described democracy in Africa is a mismatch.

Mr. Arome who stated this at a 3-day Media Training on Mobilizing Civil Society Support for the Implementation of African Governance Architecture (AGA) and African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) in Abuja, North-Central, Nigeria was of the opinion that if asked to rate Nigeria democracy on the ratio of 1-10, he cannot give Nigeria 5 but instead 3 points because impunity is still characterized in the country system.

He said, this is because, the freedom of the press is not known within Nigeria system, there are issues of inclusion in the system as Nigeria women are still left out of decision making processes within the country democracy.

Mr. Arome lamented that democracy in African is a government of the political class, by the people and for the political class, pointing out that it is only when is time to be elected in an office that the political class knows that there are citizens but as soon as the mount on the position, they forget about the citizens.

“I will define democracy in African as government of the political class by the people and for the political class. It is only when is time to be elected in an office that the political class knows that there are citizens but as soon as the mount on the position, they forget about the citizens.

“So, democracy in Nigeria and African as it is not about the people but for the political class. So for me, democracy in Africa is a mismatch, though it is still in transition and we are doing a lot to advance on what we have currently but if you asked me to rate the Nigeria democracy on the ratio of 1-10, l cannot give Nigeria 5 but instead 3 point because impunity still characterize our system.

“A bill was sponsored in the House of Assembly and Senate on the Equal Opportunity Bill but both lawmakers threw out the bill not to favor the women but Beijing charter which Nigeria is signatory to approved that women should be given 35% affirmation of political seat but that was not done by the members of the House and the Senate.

“Nigeria ratifies charter that talks about gender equity but we have not seen that. Not too young to run bill has just been pass by President Muhammadu Buhari but beyond the bill, being signed into law, are there structure put in place to support young people to gainfully engage in the system.

“Political parties are not being regulated as you cannot afford to pay for a form to contest on any political platform. So there are a whole lot of issues that we still need to deal with”, Mr. Arome stressed.

He therefore called on the young people to stand up for their rights because it is time for them to own the democracy and time to speak, not speaking along tribal, ethnic, religious line but speaking as patriotic Nigerian if the leaders are not competent.

Commenting on the African Charter on Democracy, Election and Governance, the Policy Campaign of Action=Aid said the Charter is a pro-democracy document that was put in place by the African union with combined effort that can strengthen democracy within the African nations and inter-generational equity between the younger generation and older generation.

According to him, they saw what the military regime government did within African continent including the level of impunity within African nations, human right violations and abuses like the killing of Dele Giwa.

“When most African nations transits into democracy early 21st century, there was a need for them to come up with a document that can strengthen democracy within the African nations and inter-generational equity between the younger generation and older generation.

“It is a document that highlights every issue that deals with democracy, human right abuses within African nations.

“Over the time, Action Aid has been engaging with different stakeholders across the spectrum, the that project mobilizes CSOs support for the implementation for African charter on democracy, election and governance had seen that there is a lot that the media need to do in creating serious awareness on the charter.

“Why did l said the media, the Media stands at a point is a bridge between the citizens and the policymakers, most times, the people will not hear what is happen on the other side if the there is nobody to tell the message to them.

“The media is close to the grassroots and the policymakers and they cover wide range of the population. Media is the key in the sense that learning about the African charter, they would go back to their states to speak about the charter so that people can be aware of it because part of the problem we have discovered with the charter is that many African do not know about it that there is this kind of document assist. So if you do not know about the document how you can engage with the articles of the document to demand from your government” he added.

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