Regional Bodies, Integration Key to Deepening Democracy in Africa – President Tinubu …Demands sub-regional action to boost intra-African trade

…Demands sub-regional action to boost intra-African trade

President Bola Ahmed Tinubu has called for the strengthening of regional economic communities to drive integration and trade ties among African nations in order to deepen democracy and accelerate development across the continent.

He said through bitter experience, Nigeria has learned that the solution to poor democratic governance is to have more democracy.

President Tinubu who made the call during the Summit on the State of Democracy in Africa on Wednesday in Abuja called for revitalization of sub-regional blocs like the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) as vehicles to usher in an era of robust intra-African commerce, economic growth and job creation.

The President who was represented at the vent by Vice President Kashim Shettima said, “The immense potential of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) can only be maximally realized when there is concrete economic integration and collaboration at the different sub-regional levels,”

Delivering the keynote address, President Tinubu urged the regional bodies to prioritize minimizing trade barriers, promoting sustainable and inclusive economic growth, human capital development as well as value addition in agriculture and agro-allied sectors.

“We must deliberate on ways through which African sub-regional organizations can help foster better intra-African trade, achieve better food and energy security, promote higher rates of youth employment, alleviate poverty and realize greater prosperity for our people,” the President said.

President Tinubu noted that a reinvigorated sub-regional cooperation is critical for the successful implementation of the path-breaking AfCFTA by harmonising rules and regulations to facilitate the free movement of goods, services and people.

While acknowledging the “despair about democratic reversals” due to recent military coups, he expressed optimism about polls held successfully in nations like Liberia, Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria.

He said, “The tragedies of our nations and histories inspire our concern about the reversals of democratic governments, particularly in West Africa. That’s why we are alarmed by the military coups in Mali, Guinea Conakry, Burkina Faso, Niger Republic, and Gabon.”

The president however advocated discussions on empowering regional blocs to establish well-funded standby military forces “to help contain military adventurers and the rampaging waves of terrorism and religious extremism.”

President Tinubu urged African leaders to respect constitutional tenets like term limits, and ensure credible elections and autonomous institutions through the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) to achieve democratic consolidation.

“This Summit must discuss ways of making the APRM contribute to achieving good governance and democratic consolidation on the continent,” he stated.

Declaring that Africa can no longer be the “doormat of the world with street beggar economies”, President Tinubu called for concrete measures through reinvented regional bodies to boost trade, enhance security and entrench constitutional democracy for development and prosperity.

Earlier in his keynote remarks, former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, said the answer to the myriad of challenges confronting democracy in Africa is in re-examining the model of democracy passed on to countries in the continent by their colonial masters.

He said leaders across the continent must come together to devise a form of contextual democracy that takes into account past experiences, addresses contemporary challenges and emphasises good leadership, strong institutions, and a stable middle class, all reflecting Africa’s rich cultural heritage.

The former President who expressed concern about the growing discontent for democracy in the continent opined that the model that will work for Africa is one that takes into account the typical and predominant political system, and is “suitably and appropriately placed to serve the objectives of the African people”.

In her goodwill message, the UN Deputy Secretary-General and Chair of the SDGs, Dr Amina Mohammed, said the active participation of women and young people in politics, and other decision-making processes will strengthen democracy in the continent.

She drew the attention of authorities in the continent to the effective implementation of laws, adherence to the tenets of accountability, and improved investment in democratic institutions, noting that they are critical to the sustenance of democracy in Africa and beyond.

On his part, the former President of the Nigerian Bar Association and member of the Board of Directors, Shehu Musa Yar’adua Foundation, Abubakar Mahmoud (SAN), said the focus of the summit, which is “the state of democracy in Africa”, aligns to the cornerstone of the Foundation’s mission and vision.

He said participants at the summit are expected to thoroughly interrogate the model of democracy practiced in Africa vis a vis current challenges experienced in the continent, to resolve the lingering issues and reshape democracy in the continent.

Also present at the event were the President of the Ford Foundation, Mr. Darren Walker; Executive Director of Trust Africa, Dr. Ebrima Sall, and Co-Founder of Afrobarometer, Prof. Gyimah Boadi, among others.

Stanley Nkwocha
Senior Special Assistant to The President on Media & Communications
(Office of The Vice President)
22nd May, 2024

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyrigth bbb