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Jonathan Knocks Partisan Politics In Africa


(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Former Nigerian President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has harped on need for the political leadership in Africa to renew their commitment to national aspirations and consciously seek to bridge the gap between partisan considerations and the imperative of national development.

Dr. Jonathan made the observation while speaking at the capacity building workshop for members of the Gambia National Assembly in Banjul on Thursday.

The workshop was facilitated by the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) with support from the ECOWAS Parliament, is aimed at deepening the roots of democracy in the sub-region.

He said the challenge is that political parties, by their nature, are inclined to promote their own agenda, adding that more often than not, the dynamics of partisan politics play out in a manner that could lead to unhealthy institutional competition between the executive and the legislature, at the expense of national interest.

“It bears emphasizing that by constitutional design, parliament as the institutional pillar of democracy must rise beyond narrow partisan considerations and generally represent the national interest and commit to pursuing the public good”, he said.

In contemporary politics in Africa, according to him, the idea of separation of powers often sounds like a battle or war of wits where the parliamentarian’s loyalty to political parties conflicts with allegiance to the state and the impetus of uniting behind progressive initiatives to move the country forward.

“Many of us are not strangers to the stories of infighting and exchange of blows and punches in the parliament. Democracy loses its essence when politics is made to overshadow governance. Admittedly, politics, democracy and governance have the same goal; to advance the interest of the people through service.

“We notice that in most African parliaments it is either that the dominant party in the parliament is unconditionally shooting down all bills and motions from the opposition camps or the opposition is perpetually living up to its name by kicking against any initiative from the ruling party, no matter how good it is for the country”, he further explained.

The former president said parliamentarians must therefore be ready to support initiatives that are good for the country, irrespective of the source, so long as it promotes progress.

Dr. Jonathan equally observed that that it is understandable when parliamentarians want to assert their independence because they don’t want to be seen to be a rubber stamp or an appendage to the executive.



He added that a parliament should exercise its independence to the extent that it does not compromise its duty to the people or loyalty to the state.

“This should be the foundation of politics. It is also at the heart of governance. Leadership is not about who gets what, how and when, but about impact and derivable benefits to the society. Democracy works better and delivers the most goods when the parliament promotes interparty collaboration around good policies and initiatives.

“I believe that as parliamentarians you took an oath to promote The Gambia’s ‘honour and glory to advance peace and prosperity and welfare of this country’. By that oath you have sworn to project the voice of the people and serve the country and not to serve a political party only. While you represent a political party and will not compromise the interest of your party, at the same time, you must be loyal to the state.

“The interest of a politician, either in the executive or the parliament is to make the citizens happy. For the citizens to be happy, they must be in a position to meet their daily needs and be free to travel to any part of their state without fear”, he further posited.

He said the state fulfills its responsibility to the people when the citizens can afford their basic needs and are able to exercise their freedoms freely without fear.

Dr. Jonathan equally observed that while it is important that parliamentarians are required to play an active role in the realisation of this aspiration, it is also imperative to make the clarification that the parliament is not a civil society showground and parliamentarians are not activists.

“I will advise parliamentarians to leave activism for the civil society and not complicate parliamentary processes with activism because it will not augur well for effective governance.

“In the age of democracy and globalisation, Africans have no choice outside of conscious efforts to deepen democratic practices and use the instrumentality of democracy to advance the national interest and promote the public good”, he further stated.


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