Former President Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has made a case for the consolidation of democracy in Africa, describing it as a leverage that could ensure that the continent’s future would be better than its past.
The former President noted that democracy might have its flaws but pointed out that various academic studies had demonstrated that the system of government “yields better economies, better health for its citizens and better respect for human rights.”
He stated this on Thursday in his keynote speech at a virtual conference organised by the Kofi Annan Foundation which focused on ‘Democracy in East Africa in the age of Covid 19: challenges and opportunities’.
Dr. Jonathan further affirmed that it was no coincidence that the countries with the best human development index scores are all democracies, while the worst performers are not.
He said further: “We have made enormous strides in Africa in terms of democracy. According to Freedom House, there were only two democracies in Africa in 1980; now there are no fewer than forty.”
Stressing that not all of these democracies meet the required standards, the former President however emphasised that they are mostly big improvements on what came before.
Comparing democracies to dictatorships, Jonathan stated that dictatorships around the world tend to underperform “because they are subjected to little or no accountability, either from a free press, an independent judiciary or a vibrant opposition.”
Conversely, Jonathan said that democracy “is fundamentally a competitive system, and competition keeps people, even politicians, on their toes”, adding that they are meant to be in power to serve their people and their countries, not themselves.
Dr. Jonathan noted that although democracy has its challenges in many countries, the aspiration to democracy has taken root, especially among our youth.
“From Washington to Abuja to Nairobi, democracy is always a work in progress, everywhere: each generation has to address the challenges left by its elders.”