• Tue. Jul 23rd, 2024

Good Governance As Panacea For Sustaining Security In Africa – Gov. Emmanuel Udom

Good governance, according to the Council of Europe, is the responsible conduct of public affairs and management of public resources. The Council holds that twelve principles underpin good governance.

These are: fair conduct of elections, representation, and participation; responsiveness; efficiency and effectiveness; openness and transparency; rule of law; ethical conduct; competence and capacity; innovation and openness to change; sustainability and long-term orientation; sound financial management; human rights, culture, diversity, and social cohesion; and accountability.

In his literary masterpiece, Things Fall Apart, the late Prof Chinua Achebe narrates in pulsating prose how things fell apart in Igboland with the advent of British colonialists.

In the fictional story, which is one of the most globally celebrated by an African writer, Igboland is a metaphor for what transpired in the whole of Africa.

The story is set in the late 19th Century, but a century and a half after, Africans appear to still lack the capacity to gather what fell apart, fix the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, and come out with a continent that would do credit to the late poet David Diop’s patriotic sentiment of an Africa “splendidly alone amidst white and faded flowers.”

The major part of the challenge is that ever since things fell apart in the days referenced in Things Fall Apart, and Africans managed to wrest independence for their countries from colonialists, Africans have not been free in the true sense of the word.

The late Zimbabwean Vice President Joshua Mqabuko Nyongolo Nkomo, who was the arrowhead of the fight against apartheid in then Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and was jailed for ten years by the apartheid regime for his civil rights activism, put it somberly thus, “One of the hardest lessons of my life has come to me late.

It is that a nation can win freedom without its people becoming free.” President George Bush identified with Nkomo’s sentiment that “political sovereignty is but a mockery without the means of meeting poverty and illiteracy and disease. Self-determination is but a slogan if the future holds no hope.

”These statements taken together define the essence of our gathering today. Societies can only fly to freedom on the twin wings of security and good governance.

The Mo Ibrahim Foundation states that governance is the provision of political, social, and economic public goods and services that all citizens rightfully expect from their government and that a government responsibly delivers to its citizens.

Two things should guide an honest assessment of our political situation, a consideration of both our inner scorecard and our outer scorecard. With respect to our inner scorecard, the Ibrahim Index of Good Governance provides us with a template.

The key assessment areas of this template are security and the rule of law; participation, rights, and inclusion; foundations for economic opportunity; and human development. When subjected to this test, most African countries perform very poorly.Our outer score card which has to do with how the world sees us is not any better.

We still remember when a former American president painted our continent in foul language eliciting African leaders’ condemnation. He did not apologize. His failure to apologize, in my estimation, told a story about his perception of our dear continent.

It was a red flag that called for Africans to rise up, pick up the things which had fallen apart and prove to the world that Africa is the cradle of civilization. It was here that civilization began in Egypt.

And we can get back to those days of glory with good governance.Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan once rightly said that “Good governance is perhaps the single most important factor in eradicating poverty and promoting development.”

It should be noted that affluent societies do not have security challenges like poor societies do. To eradicate or tame the hydra-headed monster of insecurity, we need to eradicate and tame poverty through good governance.

Therefore, addressing the issue of poverty is not just a matter of doing the right thing. it is a matter of meeting an obligation to ensure security at home and abroad. Africa’s importance in global security cannot be overstressed.

African countries represent about sixteen percent of the world’s population. African countries currently hold the second-largest number of seats in the United Nations Security Council.

Africa has the largest, most unified bloc in the United Nations General Assembly. So, the world cannot afford to ignore Africa but we do not have a veto vote at both the Security Council and general council.

At the same time, Africa should look inwards. We still have some distance to cover. Many African countries are yet to undertake the kind of reforms that would checkmate abuse of power, stop corruption, and reverse economic decline.

The Nigerian case is worth a second glance. When the world made the transition from cash transactions to wire transactions through credit cards and wire transfers, Nigeria witnessed an upsurge in insecurity. Hoodlums who were involved in armed robbery discovered that people no longer kept money at home, so they resorted to kidnapping for ransom.

Kidnapping seemed to favor them more as they could negotiate the ransom based on the presumed economic strength of their victim. Kidnapping also became a tool used by some politicians for political advantages. It was in this mix that I assumed office as the governor of Akwa Ibom State. It should be noted that though governors are said to be the chief security officers of their states in Nigeria, they do not control the security architecture in their states.

But I understood the nexus between security and good governance and that minimizing poverty would also minimize insecurity. With the cooperation of the law enforcement agencies, we designed rapid response strategies to curb insecurity.

Our plan was actually twofold: one, we had zero tolerance for security breaches and we put top-notch security equipment in place to take care of this; and two, we provided good governance underpinned by poverty-reduction strategies designed particularly for youths.

We also saw the need to reduce the level of unemployment in the state through the establishment of industries. So far we have established no less than 20 new industries in the state since my assumption of office.

We have also embarked on reforms and innovations in the area of agriculture and introduced our people to the cultivation of economically viable crops which hitherto, were thought impossible in our clime. As a result, a good number of our youths have keyed into this vision and are now making a decent living through agriculture.

Our human capacity development efforts are also mainly targeted towards the youthful population, who not only form the bulk of our populace, but are also the ones most susceptible to restiveness and crime that can precipitate a lot of insecurity. We have designed and are implementing schemes that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, and we have also invested in helping small and medium scale enterprises to thrive.

Through these different programmes, over 5,000 of our youths have benefited directly from interventions and facilities provided by the government to help them improve their businesses and economic circumstances.

This has certainly contributed in no small measure to the progress we have made in the area of development and security. The situation now is that though the country was enmeshed in this insecurity at the said time, we were able to refocus our strategies and today our state has emerged as the safest state in Nigeria. We succeeded because we entrenched mechanisms to promote constitutionalism, rule of law, accountability, democracy, and good governance in order to achieve our development goals. We created strategic engagements with all segments of the state population. We made it clear that injury to one is an injury to all. When any Akwa Ibom man or woman bleeds, we all bleed.

So we operate with the consciousness that insecurity anywhere is a threat to security everywhere. And why would a youth who stands to be employed in a lucrative job, or who can key into the numerous avenues created by government for him to earn an honest living, undertake the risky venture of embracing or promoting insecurity? It is commonly agreed that the components of Security Management are Protection, Detection, Verification and Reaction. On all these, our State, Akwa Ibom is performing far above average and we can share our experience with others.

African Countries must take protection and detection very seriously because if insecurity is curbed at this level, then most countries in Africa will not be crisis ridden. We must deal squarely with these issues both in Nigeria and Africa. Of course it is obvious that any destabilizing occurrence in Nigeria leading to a mass movement of their citizens will not only mount pressure on the continent, but on the entire world.It is my hope that as stakeholders in the African project, we can continue to preach the gospel of good governance so as to contain our security challenges.

After all, the primary duty of any government is the safety and security of its citizens. Akwa Ibom State where I come from and which I am opportune to lead at this time has provided a template.

Indeed it is not yet uhuru, but I believe we have certainly made enough progress as to be a model for other parts of the continent as it is an undeniable fact that good governance remains the only panacea for insecurity.

Hyacinth Beluchukwu Nwafor

Hyacinth Beluchukwu Nwafor is a seasoned journalist and the CEO/Founder Belch Digital Communications, publishers of Hybrid News Nigeria.

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