Harness nation’s democratic dividends for accelerated devt — Dr Chambas
The AU High Representative for Silencing the Guns, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, has called on citizens to ensure that dividends of the nation’s democracy were harnessed for the sustainable development of the country.
He said to achieve this, leadership must deal with the complexities of good governance and also fight for a more just international economic system.
“The socio-economic implication of the lapses in governance in the country and the unfair international trade are reflected in the declining quality of life, the pervasive presence of corruption, the prevalence of situations threatening the rule of law, a divisive political context, state capture, and deficit in visionary leadership to inspire hope” Dr Chambas said.
He was delivering a lecture on the topic: “Empowering citizens, enriching nation building: Fostering active citizenship for sustainable development in Ghana", as part of STAR-Ghana Foundation(SGF) third annual active citizenship lecture in Accra yesterday.
The lecture, which was also to commemorate the fifth anniversary of SGF, was attended by CSOs, the academia, development workers and the general public.
Dr Chambas said: “There are still many questions that need to be answered, why does 70 per cent of our population still grapple with poverty?; Who owns our natural resources?; Why is our national debt burden soaring?; Why does our food security situation hang in a balance due to external factors such as the Russia-Ukraine war?; What has led to the precarious state of our health care and education systems?; Where is the accessibility to decent housing and other social amenities?; Where are the dividends of democracy?”.
“These challenges encompass a blend of historical issues dating back to pre-colonial times and contemporary challenges arising from evolving practices.
“However, one fundamental reality is evident: We are yet to fully harness the potential of democracy as a catalyst for sustainable development.”
On corruption, Dr Chambas, who had been an international civil servant since 2006, said the country’s performance in the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) had plateaued with a consistent score of 43rd out of 100 for the third consecutive time by Transparency International.
In addition, he said the country had witnessed its poorest ranking in press freedom in 17 years as contained in the findings of the Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders.
He further cited the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance that demonstrated that critical elements of good governance had either stalled or retrogressed over the past decade.
Dr Chambas also mentioned contemporary issues such as the fight against terrorism in the sahel, piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, climate crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic and increased adverse weather conditions which, he said, had exacerbated vulnerabilities of the people.
Taking the audience through the historical antecedents that led to the nation's independence, Dr Chambas said active citizenship was equally undeniably indispensable for the sustainable development of the country.
That, he said, could be achieved through mass participation in governance, promoting accountability, empowering youth and women, as well as creating a positive mindset and attitude.
The SGF Governance Council Chairperson, Dr Esther Ofei-Aboagye, said the organisation had achieved some successes over the past five years in the face of dwindling global donor funding.
She said the lecture was one of the organisation's flagship programmes which formed part of its active citizenship strategy.
There was a panel discussion of questions posed by Dr Chambas to find workable solutions to help chart a new path of democracy and active citizenship.