By Ossom Raphael
Abuja – May 25 is a day which many across Africa will never forget as Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) Activists, friends and colleagues gathered for the eighth memorial of one of their own, Dr. Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, a man who was at the forefront of Pan-Africanism
To commemorate the 8th year of his death, a memorial lecture was organised with the themed: “Democracy in Africa; Trends and Challenges” by the Centre for Democracy and Developments (CDD).
Former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, who moderated the panel of discussion on the theme of the event, described the late Mr. Abdul-Raheem as a Pan-African luminary.
He said the topic for the memorial was chosen because it was one of the issues the late Dr. Abdul-Raheem acted on.
“His sense of optimism and ability to speak the truth to the people will continue to guide us,” Prof. Odinkalu said.
One of the panelist, Remi Ajibewa, the director of Political Affairs of ECOWAS, who reeled out both past and present the ages of African President “gerontocracy” and “satanic elections” as major challenges facing democracy in Africa.
According to Ajibewa “the presidents of Mali is 72; Nigeria 74; South Africa 75; Malawi 76; Liberia 78; Cameroon 84; Zimbabwe 93. It looks like African leaders equate leadership with chieftaincy title that can be transferred from father to son. We have bastardized democracy in Africa. Succession needs to be looked into. Credible election is important in democracy”.
Other panelists, Dayo Kusa, and Okello Oculi, where however of the view that gerontocracy is not the major challenge affecting democracy in the Africa, rather informed individuals are needed to pilot the affairs of leadership.
“Unless we strengthen agencies and identify individuals with leadership qualities, elections will not lead us anywhere”, Mr. Kusa said.
“Let us not follow the voice of America or other parts of the world when criticizing our leaders. Age is not the main problem with our leaders but the quality leadership.” Oculi said.
The panelists in their submission called for all gender inclusive electoral process in the continent.
Students from the Anglican Girls Grammar School, Abuja, held a mock summit of the African Union, taking roles as the continent’s heads of states.
Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem, who died in a car crash in Nairobi, Kenya in 2009 was the former Chair of CDD International Government Council. CDD over the last seven years organizes annual memorial events in his memory, which brings together a cross section of stakeholders and experts drawn from academia, business communities, the press and civil societies.
Dr. Abdul-Raheem, was also the general secretary of the Pan-African Movement, director of Justice Africa, the Deputy Director of United Nations Millennium Campaign for Africa, as well as a writer for newspapers and journals across Africa.