Executive Director of Fix Politics, Anthony Ubani, in this interview with Kuni Tyessi, stresses need to chart a way forward for African development with citizens holding the leaders accountable for whatever decisions taken.
What should be the participants’ major take-aways from the recent African Conference, and how do you think it will bring about what I will call jurisprudence in the politics of the participants?
This is the inaugural edition of African Conference and it is going to be a yearly conference. It is going to be a flagship programme of the School of Politics, Policy and Governance.
Looking in there, you will see that we have been able to assemble different prominent persons who have made their mark in the field of governance, democracy and leadership in Africa.
Here, we try to assemble the kind of leaders SPPG trains in the school. SPPG is committed to building a new generation of leaders who will lead with values, lead with character, competence and capacity.
These are the kind of leaders we brought from Zimbabwe, Kenya, Cameroon and all over Africa.
Quite a number of take-aways have come out of this conference and I can just talk to you about a few of them. For us to achieve the goal of liberating Africa, getting it to come to the point of economic development, political stability and functional democracy, three factors will have to drive these goals.
The first is the youth of Africa. The second is the women of Africa and the third is technology. These are the three factors you need to drive this movement. This movement will also be driven on the framework of the triangular pillars of democracy, which is a theory that came up from the research #FixPolitics conducted.
To put it very simply for our readers out there, the triangular pillars of democracy in the context we speak means that the demand side, which is the citizens, the electorate of Africa, must step up their game, by being better informed, better empowered, better educated and better enlightened.
Educated about what? Educated about the significance of politics, to understand that politics trumps everything; that politics affects them from the day they are born to the day they die. It affects everything they are going to do, including who they marry and what they buy.
Politics affects the lives of their country and the continent of Africa. Therefore, it is important for them to understand why they should pay attention to this.
Second, Africans should also understand the importance of holding their leaders accountable. The second leg of the triangular pillars of democracy speaks to the supply side, which is the leadership side; those in electoral office, those in appointive office, in the country and in the continent. It is imperative that we begin to build a new generation of leaders, who will lead against the background of corruption, impunity and incompetence that we have; a new generation of leaders that will be value-driven, who will listen to citizens of Africa, as well as focus on transformational leadership to develop our economy and give us a stable politics.
On the third tripod, we are looking at reforming our economy, politics, electoral laws and constitution. It is important that the regulatory side of the polity is taken care of; yes you may have very educated, active, engaged citizens participating in the democratic and political process. Yes, you may have leaders, who are value-based, but if you do not have strong regulatory institutions that are able to do their job, that are able to keep everyone on the straight and narrow, then the system will not work.
How does SPPG intend to drive students’ admission growth?
What we are doing today is part of the strategy to drive admission into the SPPG. The SPPG is known by the work it does. I will start by telling you something. I am sure, as a journalist, you went to journalism school, did a bit of advertisement and marketing and was taught in that school that a good product sells itself, but you have to make a lot of noise for a bad product.
The impact of SPPG sells SPPG. You have heard our chairperson, our Chief Executive Officer and other speakers talk about the impact of SPPG. Talk about what some of our graduands, our alumni, are already doing.
How many of them participated in the last election? How many are already doing wonderful things in different parts of Africa?
The works of SPPG sells SPPG.You have seen even some of our leaders. The convener of SPPG said he is a graduate of SPPG. Conferences like the one we are having is also an avenue to sell SPPG. So, if you put together all of the brilliant works SPPG is doing in Africa, it is not difficult to sell.
We have just finished a programme on the big ideas; we are just doing the African Conference. We are having graduation tomorrow. We have just launched the SPPG in Senegal on October 10.
We are doing so much, but we are not focused on selling the SPPG; we are focused on selling the vision and mission of the SPPG, which is to build a new generation of value-based leaders, who are disruptive in their thinking and who are focused on serving the needs of citizens of Africa.
Africa has faced serious democratic challenges. You know what is happening in Togo, in Niger, across Africa. Was the issue on the instability in Africa part of what dominated discourse in the conference?
It was part of the conference, but it is not what dominated the conference. As you rightly just pointed out, Africa is riddled with many problems. There is corruption, political instability, impunity, poverty, hunger, climate problems and so many things.
How does SPPG intend to drive this narrative to the back seat?
Good! The point is, when you look at the conglomeration of these problems we have just listed, they all come down to one thing; politics, which trumps everything.
If #FixPolitics and SPPG operate from the position that once you address the broken politics in Africa, you find that you have been able to address the question of hunger, poverty, under-development and other challenges.
The coup d’états and all the problems you mentioned are as a result of the broken politics in Africa. When people try to have a good country, when they cannot feed, when the politicians cannot function the way they are supposed to function, what happens? Then you have restiveness and the idea of coup d’états. It is almost impossible to have a coup d’état in a system that is functional, where the leadership is providing good leadership and development, citizens are active, regulatory institutions are working, there is justice, equity and inclusiveness.
In such an environment, the military has no reason to intervene through coup d’état. When you listen to each and every of these coups, the first thing they tell you is that there is corruption, political instability, poverty and hunger. They say the leaders can no longer lead and therefore they are coming as an interventionist force.
That tells you that if you fix the broken politics in the country, the economy and social system will fall in place. There will be good governance because broken politics affects good governance.
What is going to be the projection of #FixPolitics in the next 10 years?
In the the next 10 years, our expectation is that we must have got to a point of reaching critical mass, in terms of the number of SPPG graduates that we have put out there.
If you listened to the chairperson, yesterday, she talked about the numbers we graduated for the first, second year and third years, which are in the realm of hundreds.
She made a very important point; that we should be looking at putting out not less than 10,000 in a year to make impact.
Our expectation is that, very shortly, we should be able to put out such numbers every year, going forward. That means, if we are able to put out about 1,000, 2,000 up to 10,000 a year, it means that in 10 years, we will be looking in excess of hundreds of thousands of students across Africa.
Then what do you think they will be doing?
They will be running for elective office; some of them in appointive office, some in the civil service of their different countries to work. These are the people that will begin the process of change because change is what we need in Africa.
What kind of change?
Development change, political change, socio-economic change and mindset change.
Change from what?
Change from incompetence to competence, from corruption to good character/morality, from lack of capacity to capacity and from poor governance to good governance. These are people, who understand how public policy is made, people who understand the importance of listening to citizens and doing the wish of citizens to ensure equitable, inclusive, just and functional society.
That is what we look forward to in 10 years; that Africa, as you see it today, would have taken 10 steps forward in 10 years time due to the work and impact of #FixPolitics and SPPG.