Although it is almost a month since US president Barack Obama toured Africa to attend the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Nairobi Kenya, his remarks are still reverberating in all countries especially those he specifically pointed a finger to. As an African, Obama used the same open-approach strategy to address African problems especially the democratization of Africa and the role it plays in enhancing stability, thus, conducive environment for business.
Addressing the African Union (AU) Obama wondered why some African presidents do not want to leave power after their constitutional mandate comes to an end. He said that it becomes difficult for such dictators to adhere to the provisions of the constitutions of their countries especially when they have a “lot of money.” He wondered why a person can disrespect the constitution and still swear to protect and be protected and legalized by the same. He hit hard on African rulers who offer some hoo-ha and other pretexts that they are the ones that can sustain stability in their countries saying, “I actually think I'm a pretty good President. I think if I ran, I could win. But I can't.” He categorically said that no human is above the law even if that person is a president.
Although he didn’t say it expressly or name names, Obama thinks that clinging to power is more of insanity than anything. And–indeed, it is–apart from being hypocrisy, duplicity and corruption. According to Obama, a leader who boasts to be the only one who can sustain stability in a country has miserably failed for failing to prepare others to take the baton. He particularly mentioned what happened in Burundi as an anathema and an obstacle for Burundi’s development.
Obama castigated African rulers who tamper with the constitutions of their countries to remain in power in order to conceal their mess. He cited Nelson Mandela’s and George Washington’s legacy of willingly relinquishing power. He noted that these two prominent personalities are not venerated for what they did in office but for their willingness to relinquish power.
As the first US president to address the African Union (AU), Obama tackled a variety of issues such as openly mentioning the names of the protagonists in South Sudan and the way they are becoming the obstacles as far as the peace of this young nation is concerned. He –though indirectly –took on China, admonishing Africa to be cautious in dealing with the country. He admonished African countries to embrace intra-Africa trade.
In sum, Obama’s mission – despite being typical business – had something special and important for Africa as far as democratization is concerned. It is time for Africa to take up her challenges and start true democratization in order to forge ahead. This will only be achieved when all citizens and rulers equally respect the constitutions of their countries.
Source: African Exec;utive Aug., 19, 2015.