As Africans at home and those in diaspora mark the Africa Day 2020, Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) has called on African leaders to work in solidarity and unity of purpose towards overcoming the current challenges of the continent in order to achieve the African Union ( AU) peace and development objectives and other noble targets in the AU Agenda 2063.
In a statement by its Executive Director, Ms. Ann Iyonu to commemorate the day, the Foundation stated that :
“Africa Day is a significant part of our history as Africans. It reminds us of our past struggles and gives us an opportunity to appreciate the role played by our continent’s heroes in their quest for an independent, interdependent, peaceful, united, and prosperous continent.
“As we celebrate Africa Day 2020, with the focus of silencing the guns in Africa, we task leaders to create conducive conditions for Africa’s development. By yielding themselves to democratic norms and values and prioritise the rule of law, respect for human rights, gender equality and human security.
This is the pathway towards achieving the many aspirations, reflected in the African Union (AU) peace and development objectives and other noble targets in the AU Agenda 2063.
Speaking on COVID- 19 pandemic and its effect on the continent’s democracy and governance structure, the Foundation said :
“As many of our nations battle with the emerging threats posed by the outbreak of COVID – 19 pandemic, we reiterate the need for leaders and all Africans to demonstrate solidarity and work together towards overcoming the challenges of poverty, insecurity; conflict and the proliferation of small and light weapons.
“At the heart of our continent’s development challenges are the issues of poverty, electoral fraud, violence, and political instability. COVID- 19 poses more threats to our nation and democracies as political and democratic systems will be tested beyond their normal limit. We call on leaders to be circumspect in their actions. Nothing should be done to derail those democracies in nations where the pandemic may affect the already scheduled elections.
Leaders and Electoral Management Bodies (EMB) of various countries should employ consultative approach with all stakeholders before taking any decision that will affect the fate of already scheduled elections. This is necessary in order to protect the legitimacy of democratic systems and avoid any constitutional crisis.
The Foundation further advised that :
“Where elections are to be conducted amidst the pandemic, we urge stakeholders to strike a balance between public health and democracy. Elections should be conducted credibly and transparently and should be free from manipulation and intimidation and violence. “
“We celebrate with all Africans on this historic day; commemorating the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity ( now African Union). Let’s work together as one big family, towards fulfilling AU Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want.”