Yire/William Fiabu, GNA
Accra, Sept. 30, GNA – Professor Aaron Mike Oquaye, the Speaker of Parliament, has advocated for the creation of a West Africa Electoral Commission to oversee the management of electoral processes in the West Africa sub-region.
Prof Mike Oquaye made the call on Friday in his remarks at the opening of a two-day United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) High Level Policy Dialogue on the future of Governance in Africa in Accra.
“If we have a West Africa Electoral Commission, the register which becomes a bone of contention can become international; you cannot be on the Côte d'Ivoire register, on the Togo register and on the Ghana register at the same time, because there is one credible international register if you may so say,” he said.
“And yet we have forgotten about such a simple arrangements, sometimes under the cover of sovereignty, which sovereignty of course simply diffuses when there is civil war and we need our brothers and sisters to come and assist us in those dimensions,” he added.
“So what do we do about this for example? If we have a powerful West Africa Electoral Commission, they themselves become a regulatory boy; so that no one person, president or monarch can do whatever he or she likes in his or her backyard; in other words a systematic internationalisation of the process appealing the best practices for our mutual benefits.”
Speaking on the topic “Challenges in the Quest for Good Governance in Africa”, Prof Mike Oquaye quizzed that: “Are we certain about the rules of the game? And even in our country here, we continue to have a number of hiccups as a result of the mere presentation and representation and interpretation of the rules of the game. And that is quite dangerous.”
“It should not be a situation that any electoral boss can on the eve of the election bring about rules and regulations, which can be contentious,” he added.
Prof Mike Oquaye expressed the belief that Africans working in tandem should be able to compare and establish the best practices for the electoral processes; declaring that “and we can so establish these processes that any person anywhere who tries to go contrary to the established norm, would be quickly condemned by the rest of Africa, because this you just cannot do.”
He said within this same context, limitation of tenure was just crucial; “can we have an Africa, an ECOWAS just watching on or an African Union just looking on, as some presidents wants to rule forever and we see the hand of manipulation in such a process.
He said the European Union prevented Spain and Portugal from joining the Union because by the European standards, members of the Union felt their democratic credentials were not strong enough.
“What are the established democratic credentials in Africa? And no one is going to do that for us. And until we establish these principles, the pillars of good governance as we see it by way of the best practices and our own development in that regard, that anybody can do his own thing. This I believe will help us to consolidate democracy and good governance in Africa,” the Speaker said.
Dr Lamin Manneh, the Director, UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa, said the key to Africa’s economic prosperity lies in kind of governance structures they put in place in the continent.
He said the future of Governance in Africa was relevant as they explore the forms that work best for the continent.
Mr Dominic Same, UNDP Country Director- Ghana, said while Africa’s political governance path has led to some notable improvements, about 387 million sub-Saharan Africans now lived in a democracy compared with 2.5 million in 1970.
On the economic front, Mr Same said since the year 200 – as a result of improvements in macroeconomic management and more robust trade policies – gross domestic products (GDP) had averaged almost five per cent, with an average GDP growth per capita of around three per cent; stating that “this growth rate combined with increasing productivity has led to a reduction in poverty from 58 per cent in 1999 to 28.5 per cent in 2010”.