Okey Onyenweaku

Former director of Kenyan Anti-Corruption Commission, Professor PLO Lumumba has said Africans must not allow other people to continue to define democracy for them, but should interpret and domesticate the system of government that suits their goals and aspirations.

Lumunba spoke in Lagos, Tuesday at the 6th Goddy Jidenma foundation public lecture titled: ‘Governance, Insecurity, Poverty and Economic Development: Whither Africa?

He dissected the problems that have kept the continent down and hopeless over the years.

Lumumba who is also a former director at Kenyan School of Laws said that Africa’s problem was rooted in the activities of the colonialists who scrambled for the continent and parceled it out to Britain, France, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Germany.

According to him, despite the belief that Africans were independent, the colonialists were still very much around dictating to Africans how to run and lead their people.

He blamed the instability in Africa on coup d’etats which, he recalled, swept through African countries after their independence, starting from Togo on the 13th January, 1963, to Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Ethiopia leading to social disorders and the weakening of institutions which bred guerilla movements in these countries.

“Lack of good governance, insecurity, and poverty,” Lumumba said, “have been the bane of Africa which parades immense potentials to grow in all the measurement indices of viable countries”

However, Lumumba who calls himself an Afro –Optimist believes that Africa will rise again.

“I am an Afro-optimist who believes, like Kwameh Nkurumah, Julius Nyerere , Nnamdi Azikiwe, Kenneth Kaunda and their counterparts in the 1960s, that Africa can use her resources, human and natural, to catapult herself into the orbit of sustainable development,” he said.

‘’Afro-pessimists and professional fault finders may very well say that my optimism is misguided and misplaced, but my answers to them is that recent events in Africa justify my optimism.

“When I read Africa Agenda 2063 and the seven pillars on which it stands I feel energized. The Seven pillars envision;

“1, A prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development; 2, An integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideals of pan-Africanism and the vision of African’s Renaissance; 3, An Africa of good governance, democracy, respect for human rights, justice and the rule of law;

“4, A peaceful and secure Africa; 5, An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics; 6, An Africa whose development is people –driven, relying on the potential of African people, especially its women and youth, and caring for children; 7, Africa as a strong united, resilient and influential global player’’.

Chairman of the event, Professor Joy Ogwu, OFR, a former Minister of Foreign affairs and former permanent representative of Nigeria to the United Nations in her own remarks, blamed Africa’s woes on the practice of alien political systems which, according to her, “do not encourage our values and virtues.”

She pointed out that African leaders have done little to impact positively the lives of their citizens.

Relating this to philosophy as the foundation of any society, Ogwu said,” I am not saying that we don’t have philosophers. Professor Lumumba knows we do. There are African Philosophers, but we practice alien political systems established by their own philosophers.”

She continued, ‘’Going through school for so many years, we studied philosophy. One remarkable one that talked about democracy is a French philosopher Montesque. He came over during the American revolution to help them in establishing their society and I chose him because he is one who talked about virtue. He said virtue is the crucial necessity for survival of a free people

‘’Can we ask ourselves in the current systems of democracy that we practice, how we have involved virtues and values in order to govern. This social contract between the governed and the ruler seems a bit hazy. As individuals and citizens we must understand our responsibilities. African leaders want to be leaders without first of all being good citizens.

“African continent has been in the back waters, lacking in almost every human development index where bad leadership, insecurity and poverty have conspired to keep the continent down over the years.

Goddy Jidenma foundation is a non –profit, non governmental organization set up in the memory of Arch Godwin Nwaolisa Jidenma who died on May 24, 2006 in Lagos, Nigeria. The Foundation was founded in 2007 to advance and promote his ideals and passion, which largely revolved around the celebration of human essence.