By Ikechukwu Eze
Former President and Chairman of Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has urged all Africans to put in their best to strengthen the democratic process in order to ensure credible elections and good governance on the continent. Dr. Jonathan also urged African leaders to use the opportunity of COVID-19 pandemic to initiate reforms that would bring a to a stable, peaceful and prosperous continent.
Dr. Jonathan made the call during a virtual conference organised by the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation in collaboration with the Kofi Annan Foundation on Friday, June 12, 2020. Dr. Jonathan who was a panelist at the event, alongside former Liberia President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Elhadji As Sy, Chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation and Co-Chair of the Joint World Bank/WHO Global Preparedness and Monitoring Board, noted that electronic voting could be the magic wand to the problems of electoral fraud and violence in the continent.
He said: "To ensure good governance, all Africans must put in their best to strengthen democracy on the continent… Whatever you do, make sure the people's votes count. That was why in my days as president, I championed the advocacy of one man one vote, one woman one vote, one youth one vote."
Speaking on the theme of the conference "COVID-19 and the Crisis of Democratic Legitimacy in Africa", Jonathan noted that legitimacy has to do with conformity to the rule of law and popular support, thereby urging leaders not to use the pandemic to manipulate the electoral system. The former President further emphasised the need for governments to get the confidence of the citizens before introducing any public policy.
Jonathan also condemned the issue of extra-judicial killings witnessed in some African countries including Nigeria during this period of lockdown, stating that security operatives should conform with laid down rules and policies in enforcing lockdown measures.
Responding to the question on how to tackle the menace of sexual and gender-based violence in the country, Jonathan called on all stakeholders to get involved in the fight. He noted that violence has so much to do with human behaviour, hence the need for increased advocacy. He further tasked the government to strengthen the judicial system in order to effectively tackle the scourge of gender violence.
“ If you do an analysis of the cases of rape in Nigeria, you will realise that many of those who are involved in rape are serial rapists. Some of them had been arrested before fo same crime but they were not appropriately punished. When justice is not served to them they are encouraged to do more. We must strengthen our judicial system in order to effectively tackle the issues of sexual and gender- based violence ”
The conference is part of a series of dialogue initiated by the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation to examine the impact of COVID-19 pandemic the African States and proffer solutions to the emerging political, economic and social threat.