If you think it is only those in military uniform who plot and execute coups against their country’s democracy, you are wrong. This is because judges are also guilty of plotting coups against their nation’s democracy, when they misinterpret the law, rewrite the constitution and allow wrong people to survive in democratic offices.
This was the position of Prof Lumumba, a former director of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission and the Kenya School of Law when he delivered extempore, a keynote address at the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation organised democracy dialogue in Yenagoa.
His position came at a time that many Nigerians have had to accuse the Nigerian judiciary of misinterpreting the amended Nigerian constitution when it passed judgement at the presidential election tribunal in respect of the mandatory requirement that a candidate must have won 25 per cent votes in the FCT before he can be declared winner of a presidential election
Lumumba who held the audience spell-bound for close to an hour with his usual intelligent delivery and thought-provoking analysis of the African leadership experience lamented that many leaders have been forced out of office because they were not willing to quit when the ovation was loudest.
He said Jonathan did well when he decided to leave the stage after losing the 2015 presidential election.
Speaking at the event, Jonathan who attracted African leaders to Yenagoa for the dialogue under the theme “breaking New Grounds In The Democracy Development Nexus in Africa” said “democracy in the continent has gone through a period of crises that thrive by social tension, coup d’etat, insecurity and poor management of electoral process, which in itself is a threat to our democracy in Africa.
“Recently, we have experienced jubilations heralding the overthrown of civilian administrations in Africa, people jubilating military overthrowing civil administrations, such victory songs will not last long, but it shows thar Africa needs to rejig her democracy.
“As leaders, we have the responsibilities to ensure that democracy endures by adhering to the the rules of law, respecting the rights of the people, strengthening public institutions, ensuring that we implement policies that will impact positively on the lives of our people.”
In his goodwill message, the Olu of Warri, His Majesty, Utieyinoritsetsola Emiko, Ogiame Atuwatse III who was the royal father of the day, urged those that carry symbol of authority, be it crown or constitutional seal to always carry the interest of the people they govern along in their actions and policies.
He said the black man was not respected across the world no matter his social and academic attainment because the world was yet find an excellent black nation.
Bayelsa State Governor, Senator Douye Diri, who was the chief host lamented that politicians were still in the habit of employing violent tactics as tool to acquire political power under democracy. He urged the international community to monitor
His words: “On November 11 this year, Bayelsans will be going to the polls to elect a governor. I hope I have done enough to merit their endorsement for a second term. The decision should be theirs to make.
“Sadly, some of my opponents do not think the people of Bayelsa are entitled to that choice and are resorting to violence, intimidation and brigandage to subvert the will of the people. I am inviting you all back here to be observers of the process.”
Diri stressed that the introduction of armed non-state actors in political contests poses a greater threat to democracy than the military, noting that unless the people insist on building strong institutions capable of resisting the antics of strong men, more countries would be affected.
“The introduction of armed non-state actors in political contests poses a greater threat to our democracy than the military. And unless we insist on building strong institutions capable of resisting the antics of strong men, more and more countries will be infected.
“The antidote is the rise of accountable leaders, vibrant civil societies, and engaged citizenry who shape their own destinies and demand transparency, justice, and equal opportunities.”
The governor said the timing of the conference could not have come at a better time in view of what he described as “recent epidemic of military takeovers in the sub-region, which have woken us rudely from our sweet dreams that Africa has come a long way from an era marked by oppressive regimes and limited civic participation.”
According to Diri, “the re-emergence of this malady should be a source of concern for all of us. We as politicians and the chief drivers of the democratic culture cannot completely absolve ourselves in this matter. Because we inadvertently create the environment for such behaviour.”
The governor noted that if the people build the right foundations, they would leave enduring legacies, and applauded the unexampled conduct during the 2015 presidential election when President Goodluck Jonathan wrote himself into history as the father of Nigeria’s modern democracy.
He said “in accepting to host this important event, I am aligning myself with the ideal so famously expressed in his immortal words that his “ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian.
“Democracy should be about ballots, not bullets. It should be an exchange of ideas and convictions. That is why I often say, those who will kill you to rule you, cannot mean well for you.”