Former President Goodluck Jonathan has called for better collaboration between democratic actors, current leaders and former leaders in West Africa to address issues affecting the peaceful transfer of power in the region.
The president of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) was quoted making the call in his remarks Wednesday at a West African Elderly Forum (WAEF) strategy meeting in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Jonathan, in a statement by GJF Communications Officer Wealth Ominabo, noted that friction between incumbent presidents and their predecessors was not in the best interest of democracy.
“A gray area that we must analyze is the antagonism observed between past leaders and serving leaders in some countries of the sub-region. This does not promote the healthy practice of democracy.
“In addition, in some of our countries, the democratic space seems to be shrinking. There is a need to figure out how to navigate through that challenge to grow democracy in West Africa and the rest of Africa.”
Jonathan said the forum’s focus was preventive diplomacy and the purpose of the strategy meeting was to see how best to engage with stakeholders in West Africa ahead of upcoming elections in some countries.
“As a forum, we strongly believe in preventive diplomacy. `One of our objectives is to ensure that we underpin the democratic achievements of our region by meaningfully engaging different stakeholders, in a pragmatic and responsible manner.
“Meetings like this serve as an opportunity to review the achievements, challenges and threats to peace and democracy in our sub-region and help us design strategies on how to mediate so that threats do not degenerate into conflicts.”
Jonthan said, “As Democrats, we believe that elections are the cornerstone of democracy, and the activities surrounding the process can make or break a nation’s development aspirations.
“The election gives citizens the opportunity to have a voice in their nation and gives them the opportunity to participate in the recruitment process for their country’s leaders.
“From recent events in Africa, we can draw a lesson about the relationship between peaceful elections, democratic livelihood and national stability. That is why every process leading up to the election is very important to the outcome of the poll.
“In our sub-region, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Liberia have scheduled general elections for next year, and as we know, elections could serve as a major trigger for violence and instability on our continent.
“That is why it is important that we closely follow the electoral processes in these countries and be attentive to signs that could precipitate a crisis.
“As elders, it is our responsibility to identify threats to transition programs in our subregion and seek ways to proactively engage relevant stakeholders to resolve such challenges.”
Jonathan also called on those in government to redouble their efforts and commitment to democracy by making sure that democracy translates into better welfare for the people.
Also speaking, GJF Executive Director Ms. Ann Iyonu said it was imperative to raise awareness and develop a collective sense of urgency to address some of the current trends that threaten West Africa’s peace, stability and democratic governance.
“One of the main objectives of the WAEF is to accompany the countries of West Africa in their various efforts to consolidate their democracies.
“In that regard, it has become highly imperative to raise awareness and develop a collective sense of urgency to address some of the current trends that threaten the peace, stability and democratic governance of West Africa as the region rushes to hold elections. crucial in 2023. especially in Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia,’ Iyonu said.
She listed other participants in the events to include Former President of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma – Former President of Benin, Mr. Boni Yayi – Former Vice President of The Gambia.
Others include Fatoumata Tambajang: former Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel (UNOWAS), Mr. Ibn Chambas and members of the diplomatic corps.
The West African Seniors Forum is an initiative of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation with support from the Open Society Foundation. (YAYA)