By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Dr Christopher Fomunyoh, Senior Associate for Africa and Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has said the poor leadership that is on the African continent is one that is giving the continent a bad name.
Dr Fomunyoh was speaking recently on Nigeria Info’s Pin Point on the theme “How Can Africa Be Built”? The discussion touched on a vast array of topics such as the coronavirus pandemic, vaccine distribution in Africa, the US-Africa relationship and the violence on the continent such as in Nigeria and Cameroon.
“Africa is not a poor continent but it is poor leadership that is placing us where we are. It is poor leadership that is giving Africa a bad name. How can u explain that somebody close to 90 years old; President Biya just celebrated his 88th anniversary a few days ago has been in power for some 40 years; Obiang has been in power for 42 years,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh cries out.
“How can you explain that someone like that can be able to compete with today’s technology; and respond to the worries of the youths? The world has evolved and it is about time we too evolve our leadership so we can galvanize our resources and leverage them so that it can benefit the African people.”
On the coronavirus pandemic, Dr Fomunyoh said the pandemic has caused a lot of deaths but it isn’t that much as people had feared. “We feel fortunate that our numbers have been lower than the numbers we have seen on other continents, Asia, North America. There is now the concern about the second wave that could hit the continent and I feel gratified with the role that African leaders have played to raise their voices and engage the WHO on vaccines,” Dr Christopher Fomunyoh said.
“We cannot ignore this crisis; it is a global pandemic and it is eating multiple sectors of the African continent. The AU has no choice but to tackle the crisis even if they have other issues.”
Speaking on the issues of vaccines he said: “Africa needs to get a Seat at the Table and that is the only way it can get its voice heard. If Dr Thedros was not there, there isn’t any guaranteed that our collective voices would have been heard in the same light. I am also happy that our sister Dr Ngozi is going to lead the WTO. There is a message that Africans that are well endowed should be seeking such positions at the global stage so that they can also bring the African voices on the table.”
On the aspect of the US-Africa relations with the new administration that is in place, Dr Christopher is optimistic that things will be different than the past four years where the former President Trump did not even visit the continent in his four-year stay.
“We want to see actions that match those words,” Dr Christopher said. “It is a great start as it is a far demarcation from his predecessor at the white house, where Africa was not giving as a priority. The new president’s actions are already rewarding such as his endorsement of the candidacy of Dr Ngozi for the WTO, several African-Americans have been nominated and confirmed to strategic positions within the US government.”
“Africa needs to assert itself; ask to be heard and we need to put up our wish list. There is nothing wrong in saying these are the things that have not to work well in the past and this is our priorities. Africa needs to project itself as a global player.”
The Regional Director at the National Democratic Institute (NDI) has said it is regrettable what is going on in some parts of the continent due to violence. A situation that Nigeria has faced for the past years and its neighbour Cameroon has been going through for the past four years in the English-speaking part of the country.
Dr Fomunyoh said: “We as Africans have to do everything we can to bring our leaders to understand that violence only bequeaths violence and that political grievances should be resolved through negotiations and political means. We have to do everything to silence the guns on the continent so that we can all focus on building a better Africa than the one we might have inherited from the previous generations.”
About the NDI
It is a non-governmental organization that works to support and strengthen democracy worldwide. It was created in 1983 as a non-partisan organization that works to support democratic processes in a non-partisan way. The NGO has offices in about 55 countries around the world. We have a presence of about 18 countries on the African continent with local staff working alongside political parties, election management bodies, CSOs, to help strengthen democratic processes. The organization has been active on the continent for close to thirty years.