Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Aaron Mike Ocquaye, has indicated that Africa needs to give more recognition to opposition leaders and perceive them as counterpart to leaders of government who at any given time may assume the reins of leadership.
He argued that the opposition leader is a potential leader of government in future hence that the need to entrench that position.
The Speaker noted that in Britain any distinguished visitor who visits the prime Minister is also allowed to visit the opposition leader, a tradition well established for generations.
Africa, he said, should begin to reflect on these lines and stressed that the continent has suffered in the past because of disregard for the opposition.
Prof. Mike Ocquaye made the call when Zambia’s opposition leader and Member of the National Assembly, Hon. Mwiimbu Jack Jacob, paid a courtesy call on him at Parliament House.
He indicated that in the past every African government saw itself as an administration in perpetuity and therefore did not respect the citizenry.
“Nobody can be in power forever and that is certainly not the context for democratic governance.”
“Those earlier rulers in Africa who were leaders of the independence struggle made the mistake of thinking of themselves as saviours and for that matter, perpetual rulers.”
This mindset, he said, instigated a very dangerous philosophy and the current governance problems African countries are experiencing.
The best option for Africa, he said, is to adopt the American governance system, which is hinged on the concept of limitation of tenure where leadership is limited to two four-year terms regardless of how good or efficient the leader has been.
“The concept of limitation of tenure should be a big lesson for Africa. The concept is gaining ground but Africa should quickly get rid of those who think they can be perpetual leaders so that democracy can be deepened on the continent.”
The Speaker noted that despite the praises Ghana has received across Africa and the world for her achievements in the democratic journey, the electoral processes are still being analyzed, criticized and worked upon to stiffen the laws regulating elections to ensure all indiscretions are done away with.
Africa, he said, must work to strengthen the electoral systems to ensure the continent is ruled by laws and not by the good sense and point of view of others.
He stated, “No human can use their discretion to rule a country arbitrarily or how they think is best.”
“Africa must allow well-crafted rules, laws and regulations to work and accept this concept as a matter of principle.”
“If we believe the rules are nebulous, then we must go back and stiffen them accordingly.”
He argued that a government that does not respect constituents also presumes no matter what happens, it will continue to be in power and therefore will not serve the people well.
Such government, he said, would fail to subject itself to accountability and stressed that going for an election is a form of accounting for the stewardship of the state.
He lamented that if a government presumes it can win any election, there is no accountability and therefore no conscience to rule the people properly as required.
By Osumanu Al-Hassanfirstname.lastname@example.org