on AFRICAN POLITICS
Professor Okodima Nnoli posits that the African continent has always being engulfed in political bushfires and economic maladies. Nnoli is right in his sentiments because all the sub-regions of Africa are replete with conflicts of different kinds. The Sadc region is facing challenges of insurgency in Mozambique and the recent Iswatini uprisings, the Great lakes region especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo is another conflict prone region, Alshabaab terror group is a security nightmare in the Horn of Africa, the Sahel region is another case in point where extremist groups totally destabilized the region and Central African Republic has been engulfed in violent conflict since 2013.
Many people have attributed the causes of these violent conflict to many factors such as foreign powers meddling in the internal affairs of African states, ethnic differences, competition for resources and a host of others. However not much emphasis have been put on how governance deficit, which is so rampant in the continent has contributed to the escalation of violent conflict in Africa. Many scholars of Security Studies share the same views that poor governance from many of Africa’s leaders is a driver to violent conflict in many parts of the continent.
Poor governance involves various malpractices by state leaders and their cronies who push away the needs of the people by creating personal rule paradigms where public office becomes more of a personal property used for personal gain which in turn negatively affects the poorest people and leave them vulnerable as they are denied basic necessities such as education, healthcare, food and shelter.
This absence basic needs in many poorly governed states have been responsible for the increase in economic and social gaps between the rich and the poor, and has led to a massive vacuum in human development. The result has been a continued level of poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment within the ranks of average Africans, thus creating the perfect arena for breeding violent conflict in Africa.
There are various examples that demonstrates that bad governance does not only just undermine development but also drives violence. In Nigeria, for example, the government helped to create Boko Haram through its lack of an inclusive growth strategy. North- East Nigeria (Borno State in particular) has been socio- economically marginalized for many years by successive administrations in Nigeria. The resultant poverty due to lack of opportunities especially the youths have made them vulnerable for recruitment by violent extremist groups such as Boko Haram.
In addition, the emergence of many militant groups in many other parts of Nigeria and the Sahel Region is the result of poor governance by various authoritarian leaders that reigned for decades in the region. The coercive nature of their autocratic rule opened channels for abuse, including the abuse of office, corruption, human right violations, and gross disregard for laws leaders; hence, the emergence of militant groups as a force intended to check the excesses of their authoritarian and corrupt rulers.
In Southern Africa, Mozambique and Iswatini are politically unstable due to governance deficit by the leadership of the two countries. The Cabo Delgado region in Mozambique has been in a state of neglect for many years which has created misery for many youths. Failure to extend services and security to the people of the region has led to the creation of many ungoverned spaces which unfortunately have been filled with violent extremist groups that has in addition to recruiting many desperate youths in the region, killed thousands and displaced hundreds of thousands of others. In neighbouring Iswatini the people has for the past few days engaged in violent conflict with the security forces which has led to loss of lives and destruction of infrastructure. The people’s bone of contention is the corrupt nature in which the monarchy has conducted the affairs of Iswatini. While the King is living a lavish life, majority of the 1,5 million citizens are wallowing in abject poverty. The authoritarian nature of the monarchy has also contributed to the grieviences of the people who are now violently confronting the monarchy. There are many examples from other parts of the continent which shows how poor governance has created a vicious cycle of corruption, poverty, and unemployment, leading to violence.
African leaders should know that delivery of high quality political goods such as security and safety, rule of law, participation and human rights, sustainable economic opportunity and human development should be the paramount objective of the government. If African leaders can provide such political goods it would go a long way in reducing poverty, general insecurity, political and religious extremism, thereby reducing the tendency for violent militancy that is rampant in many African societies. As a parting shot Burgon rightly says that good governance is essential for maintaining and sustaining the legitimacy of authority, its absence becomes poor governance, allowing poverty, crimes, and corruption to mushroom, affecting the performance of authority and weakening its legitimacy thus resulting in violent conflict.