Former President, Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings says the ordinary people of Africa are expectant of a wave of leadership that listens, serves and represents the real aspirations of the people.
He said: “Africa deserves better from its own leadership and we cannot fail them.”
Speaking at a colloquium organised by the ECOWAS Parliament in Abuja to mark 50 years of African Independence on Saturday, former President Rawlings said post-independence Africa had encountered challenging periods that had shaken the very foundations of “our political, social and economic sovereignty”.
“But while the political landscape on the continent may seem quite stable now, we still have not infused and brought along the civility, integrity and democratic practices that is unique to our culture into the adopted governance of state,” President Rawlings said.
He lamented, “we have simply adopted a Western form of democracy, applying it in a superficial and intimidating manner, when the infusion of our cultural practices could have given it so much substance, integrity and authority without the need for some of the coercive and intimidating practices.”
Former President Rawlings called for an appreciation of the truth and spirituality in our culture and how that could impact positively on our politics. He said the continent could not afford to stay in a time warp and allow some elected leaders to become autocratic and tend to abuse our freedoms through intimidation and corruption and later attempt to stay in power even when they have lost the mandate of the people.
Turning to members of the ECOWAS Parliament, the former President challenged them to use their various national parliaments to hold the incumbent executive in check.
“Why can we not use the legislature to prevent such ills while in office? Do we not have the power to demand investigations into the wrongs perpetrated by some of us in power?
“Some of the most heinous crimes call for impeachment. We think about it, we whisper about it and let it go. How then can we exercise the checks and balances? Wherein lies our power if we cannot check such excesses? So we wait till we are thrown out of office before we see justice sometimes being applied. Our failure to take the moral high ground and check these political aberrations by the executive give fertile ground for preventable distractions in our political development.
“…It is not uncommon for some of our parliaments to refuse to ratify protocols that have been approved at the highest level of ECOWAS. It is not untrue to say that most parliaments spend their time endorsing government policies whether they are good or bad.
“It is very easy to raise all the accusing fingers at the executive, but why would some in the executive not run wild if some in the legislature, the judiciary and even the media are compromised through petty political biases?”