‘Africa’s future lies in democratic governance’


- Nigerian Envoy

October 5, 2015 By Hassan Gbassay Koroma

The Nigerian High Commissioner to Sierra Leone has said that the future of Africa lies in democratic governance because it is not only the expression of the will of the people, but can help to build fair, just and inclusive societies.

Her Excellence Gladys Modupe Quist-Adebiyi was speaking last Thursday 1 October at a dinner at her residence in honour of the 55th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence. She said her country’s 55th anniversary celebration represents a milestone in Nigeria’s narrative, especially when the world shifted its focus on the country during the peaceful conduct of the 2015 general elections and subsequent change of government on 29th May.

“I believe that the future of Nigeria, indeed the future of Africa, lies in democratic governance not only because it is the expression of the will of the people but because democracy can help to build fair, just and inclusive societies. Only in a democracy can Africa’s numerous ethnic, cultural and religious diversities find harmonious expression, and the freedoms and the opportunities that come with it,” she said.

The envoy added that the peaceful general elections has consolidated democracy which in turn will impact positively on Nigeria, West Africa and the African continent, noting that Africa’s most populous nation confounded pessimists and critics alike who predicted the worst possible post-election scenarios.

She said the success of the elections was not only because citizens were allowed to vote, but more importantly their vote counted, and saluted the patriotism and commitment of Nigerians who “conducted themselves peacefully and responsibly” during and after the elections.

“This attests to the fact that general elections in Africa can be conducted in a free, fair and credible manner just like in any parts of the world,” said Madam Quist-Adebiyi.

She maintained that the uncommon display of statesmanship of the former president, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in conduct and outlook in the aftermath of the elections, has further proved that the African electoral system is gaining strength and maturity, and that the transfer of government from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress is already yielding dividend in achieving economic heights for Nigeria.

High Commissioner Quist-Adebiyi disclosed that Nigeria has one of the fastest growing economies in the continent with a gross domestic product of 7% and inflation of 8%, while the enabling environment created by government has further improved economic growth through the implementation of reform policies to diversify the economy and support technology transfer and develop value chains in the agro-allied sector.

She averred that terrorism has become a global phenomenon that threatens international peace and security, and that it became globalised via the 9/11 attacks masterminded by Al-Qaeda. She said no country can claim to be immune from terrorist attacks since that infamous attack and its attendant consequences. Thus, she said defeating Boko Haram and finding a durable solution to the underlying causes of insecurity in Nigeria remains a priority of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.

Madam Quist-Adebiyi noted that Nigeria, like other countries, has made a deliberate and strategic decision to tread the path of multilateralism in responding to terrorist threat and other global challenges, adding that President Buhari is determined to put an end to terrorism as he is working closely with the governments of Benin, Chad, Cameroon and Niger and other international partners to defeat the terrorists.

She said Nigeria’s special relationship with Sierra Leone predates colonial times and has remained strong and cordial for the mutual benefit of the two countries and peoples. She said her country’s educational foundation benefited a great deal from Fourah Bay College and that Sierra Leone also provided considerable expertise to Nigeria during and after the colonial period.

Also speaking, acting Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Dr. Ebun Strasser-King, said “Sierra Leone – on behalf of President Ernest Bai Koroma and the government of Sierra Leone – joins the government of Nigeria in celebrating their 55th independence anniversary”.

She expressed optimism that with the wealth of experience of President Buhari, both as a statesman and a seasoned military general, Sierra Leone would join Nigeria to celebrate her 56th independence anniversary next year in an atmosphere of peace.

Madam Strasser-King noted that Nigeria has provided immense support to Sierra Leone in the area of education, citing the establishment of the College of Medicine and Allied Health Services (COMAHS), for which she said Sierra Leone is gratefully as a result.

She said the cowardly acts of terrorism committed by extremist groups like Boko Haram pose a serious threat to global peace, with a potential to engulf other countries if they fail to act decisively and in a timely manner to defeat the menace, and assured that Sierra Leone would stand by Nigeria to help her combat the threat of terrorism .

She reiterated that the two countries share many common cultural and traditional values and excellent bilateral relations that predate colonialism. “It is interesting to note that the first graduate from Fourah Bay College, which is the oldest university in British West Africa, was a Nigerian by the name of Ajai Crowther,” she said.

The minister said the government and the people of Sierra Leone recalled the support and sacrifices made by Nigerian troops to bring the country’s civil war to an end through her leading role in the ECOWAS peace monitoring group (ECOMOG). She said Sierra Leone shall ever be grateful for Nigeria’s intervention to restore hope to the nation.