By Michael Ofulue, Osogbo
Democracy can only survive in Africa when leaders allow free and fair elections and elected leaders serve the interest of the citizenry, Osun State Governor, Senator Ademola Adeleke has declared.
He declared this at a three-day executive retreat organized by the African office of the United Nations Development Programme ongoing at Kigali, the capital of Rwanda.
This was contained in a statement by the Governor’s spokesman, Mallam Olawale Rasheed and made available to newsmen in Osogbo.
According to him, Governor Adeleke attributed challenges facing democracy in Africa to the refusal of elected officials to deploy state power in service of the people and a follow-up trend of resisting free and fair electoral process.
While advancing the importance of due process and the rule of law for democratic survival, the Osun state chief executive noted that leadership positions should be seen as a tool for service to the people, urging leaders to have the fear of God as the foundation for leadership success.
He quoted the Governor as saying that “I am glad to be here. Permit me to call on leaders in and out of here that we must allow democracy to work. We are products of the democratic process. So we should allow free and fair elections.
” Our people put us there. So we must serve their interest. If we fail to serve their interest, we must accept when we are voted out. Once we are elected, we must be on our toes and make a difference. That is how democracy can thrive.
“Democracy in whatever form must bring development. If democracy does not produce development, there will be problems with the system. I love what I see in Rwanda. There are serious lessons to learn.
“I try to practice what I preach. In Osun state, I govern with an eye on the rule of law and due process. I know developed nations got to where they are today because they allowed democracy to function, they embraced the rule of law.
“Let me also add that the citizens too must play their parts. The citizenry must be active and defend the electoral process. The people must rise to ensure free and fair elections.
“We will learn a lot here. We will exchange notes. We will be better leaders”, he told the gathering.
A continental leader, Donald Kaberuka, in his submission, emphasized the essence of contemporary leadership in a rapidly changing world.
He said legal compliance, legitimacy, and empathy are pivotal attributes, calling for fair governance as a central theme and stressing the importance of inclusive leadership.