Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Kenya Hon Raila Odinga had a very successful lecture at Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Naigeria. In his speech, Mr. Odinga addressed various issues that affect Africa, gave directions on what should be done and appealed to African leaders to protect democracy and fight corruption.
Here is the summary of Hon. Odinga’s speech in Nnamdi Azikiwe university:
On why nations fail: “Nations fail when the state is captured by a few politicians and business kingpins, and by ethnic or other groups that they purportedly lead.
Nations fail when leaders are not accountable to the people. Whether a leader is benevolent or not, having one person in absolute power for decades is not conducive to development.”
On return to dictatorship: “We are witnessing the return of the myth of the so-called “development” and not the people’s mandate as the reason for regimes to stay in power.
That was also the argument soon after independence that led to single party dictatorships. Now as then, the “development” proponents see themselves as rulers with messianic missions for their countries and who must not be subjected to term limits and competitive, credible elections.”
On presidents for life: “Muammar Gaddafi, for example, regarded elections as a nuisance and advised leaders that revolutionaries seize power to liberate people from poverty and imperialism and can therefore not leave office until they complete the revolution. Nobody really gets to know when the revolution is complete.”
Kenyans, South Africans, Nigerians have doubts: “A study just published by the Pew Research Center just about a week ago indicates that economic sentiments have turned sharply negative in South Africa and Nigeria since 2015. Around seven-in-ten South Africans and Nigerians now say their economies are in bad shape while in Kenya, just over half say the same, according to the study.” He added that, “Majorities in all the three countries name government corruption as a very big problem. Most South Africans, Kenyans and Nigerians believe that government is run for the benefit of only a few groups of people in society.”
On corruption in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa: “Only around a third of South Africans and Kenyans say government corruption will be better in their countries when today’s children grow up. Nigerians are more optimistic that there will be less corruption in the future, with 60 per cent expecting things to improve, an indication that some work is at long last being done about the scourge of corruption in Nigeria.”
Opposition leader offerred the solutions for all these problems and gave what Africa must do to steady the ship of state:
“First, we must complete the democratic transition. The wind of change proved that democracy provides an enabling environment to ensure that public goods and resources are put to much better use by the government. This will require the establishment of electoral institutions which all can believe in.
Second, we must establish truly independent and respected Judiciary whose rulings everyone has to adhere to.
Third, we must reduce centralization of power in any one person or agency, including the presidency. Devolution is an effective way to bring government and decision-making closer to people and make government more inclusive.
Fourth, we must minimize inequalities between ethnic, racial, religious or regional groups, with particular focus on those that have been marginalized. Here, we mean inequalities in terms of not only income but perhaps more pertinently, in access to education, health care, water, and electricity.
Fifth, we must ensure that a country’s natural resources, including land, water, forests and oil, are shared fairly by all.
Finally, we must fight corruption openly and honestly. We need not look far for examples. Rwanda has done it under the leadership of President Paul Kagame. The new President of Tanzania is doing it. President Buhari is showing the way. It is not a matter of creating new anti-corruption institutions or revamping the existing ones. It requires a change in the political landscape. The key is a President or a Prime Minister who (a) is genuinely committed to eradicating corruption; (b) commands the trust and confidence of the people; and (c) is prepared to lead from the top,” Raila Odinga.