After half a century of post-colonial governance, which was admittedly fraught with many political and economic hiccups, the set of norms generally accepted by our countries have brought only relative stability and prosperity, as indicators have not been quick to point out. Be that as it may, within only two decades, we are still interested in seeing our democratic government to survive and movr forward. The resulting challenges have arisen also because human society is dynamic and is in itself impacted upon by political, economic and social considerations at any given time. But, for the purposee of this presentation and in the interest of brevity, let me place the challenges into the followimg general groups:
Political Challenges: most of our people have already noticed that the new system of governance is being severely tested by the lack of good faith in certain leaders and administrations. What is more, it is clear that at the end of those elections, that every politicians who gained leadership posiyions as a result of the strict adherence to the norms of democracy are now, and at the end of their tenures, the very people trying to corrupt the democratic system of gevernance because of a selfish lust for power and money. So, a serious challenges to the metriculous adderence to constitutionalism is what we see emerging. They are busy attempting to prolong their stay in power through fair or foul means, to modify, sometimes crudely, multi-party democracy into a virtual one-party sate, to arrogantly abuse the concept of the separation of powers, to ignore the rule of law, to undermine judicial independece, to inter with the fundermental human rights of political opponents especially, and to capriciously use decentralisation to promote parochial or sectarian interests.
In Nigeria, Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) won the 2007 election by manipulatio and fraud. The president and governors were imposed to Nigerians by Obasanjo led government. There was total judicial neglect which later led to some of the governor’s mandate nullified by Supreme court. In Ghana december 2004, Nationational Patriotic Party(NPP) government stole the verdict by illegally pre-empting the National Electoral commission when one of its senior ministers suddenly announced that his party had won the presidential elections by a certain percentagr of the votes cast-a procedure that is frowned upon by oyr electoral laws. Not satisfied with this fraudulent behaviour, some individuals of the opposition party took the National Rlrctoral Commission to court requesting it to gazette the results of the polls, polling station by polling station,as required by law. Meanwhile, the ballot papers protected by law have been illegally destroyed in some district capitals, in contravention of an in junction granted by our High Court.
Second political challenge is how to avoid the politics of exclusion and the creation of a society of un-equals. The ‘ winner takes all’ mentality that we have inherited from the westminister and other systems of western democracy has led to the overt rejection of the concept of power sharing or the involvement of other party members in a government of inclusion even whenit is claerly in the national interst so to do. This form of challenges has manifested itself in a number of countries, mine included, when an in-coming leader and his ministers have resorted to the vilification of the previous leader and his government and the purging of the military an civil services in the bid to gather support and layalty for their style of governnance. This conduct is particularly deleterious and contributes to political tension that eventully polarises the country because it needlessly excludes important actors and sows the seed of division or polarisation in society.
A third form of challenges to democracy in Africa is the refusal of government to adhere to the ‘ Good Governance’ Agenda. We are all aware tahr for democracy to suceed, there must necessarily be a role for the opposition, decentralisation must also be equitable, the media must br assisted to be free, plurastic and independent, civil society organisations must have the unfettered freedom to operate and lastly, there must br a strong commitment to anti-corruption.