African leaders have taken the flak for their delay in responding appropriately to the abduction of the 276 schoolgirls by Islamic insurgents, Boko Haram, on April 14, 2014.
Specifically, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has been accused of waiting for three weeks before speaking about the abduction.
While commending American First Lady, Michelle Obama, for her $100,000 gesture for a lead to free the girls, Rt Rev. Samuel N. Mensah, President of the Full Gospel Church International, said African leaders had sat aloof for others to solve the problems confronting the African continent.
In a statement issued to the Daily Graphic on Monday on the abduction that has attracted worldwide attention.
Rt Rev. Mensah, who is also a leadership expert, asked “Why couldn’t African leaders or even ECOWAS take some brilliant initiatives as Michelle Obama, America and their ally, Britain, have done?”
Saying he saw President Jonathan’s response to the incident as unfortunate, Rt Rev. Mensah stated: “It does portray that some of our African leaders have no value for human lives. Indeed, some African leaders are an embarrassment to the continent.
“The reason anyone is in leadership is to improve the lives of the people; to solve problems and make things happen. Real leaders don’t explain problems, rather they fix problems – Leaders are always thinking about solutions. They are always thinking about empowering people so they can have a better life. This seems to be missing in most of our African leaders,” he added.
Rt Rev. Mensah, however, commended President John Dramani Mahama for the steps taken so far on the matter through his leadership as ECOWAS chair, but added that more was expected of him to free the abducted children and avert the insecurity in Africa.
According to the leadership expert, strong citizenry participation and demand on governments to deliver have the potential to deepen and sustain democratic governance in Africa.
Quoting from The Future of Freedom, a book written by Fareed Rafiq Zakaria, an Indian-American journalist, Rt Rev. Mensah said democratic decision-making processes must be made more effective by reintegrating constitutional liberalism into the practice of democracy and rebuilding broken political institutions and civic associations.
“Perhaps most difficult of all, it requires that those with immense power in our societies embrace their responsibilities, lead and set standards that are not only legal but moral. Without this inner stuffing, democracy will become an empty shell, not simply inadequate but potentially dangerous, bringing with it the erosion of liberty, the manipulation of freedom and the decay of a common life.”
The role of citizens
Rt Rev. Mensah said not until the citizenry and civil society actively and massively got involved in the governance of the countries on the continent of Africa and put pressure and legitimate demand on officials, politicians would always take them for a ride.
“Citizen’s involvement and demand on their leaders in other countries should inspire us to demand accountability and effective leadership from those we elect into office.
“Let our leaders really be proactive and demonstrate that they are in control. Let them learn to be sensitive to the plight of their citizenry and demonstrate that they are there for them at all times. Let them work at empowering the citizenry to improve upon their lives,” he said.
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