Former President Goodluck Jonathan has emerged as the Chairman of the African Union’s International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP).
Jonathan also urged AU to set minimum acceptable standards for appointing the leadership of electoral commissions as a means of building citizen confidence and ensuring credibility of elections on the continent.
The former President spoke on Friday at the International Leadership Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, where he emerged as the chairperson of the newly inaugurated ISCP, a body made up of mainly African former Presidents and ex-Heads of State.
The two-day conference tagged ‘Africa Summit and Leaders Conference 2019’ has in attendance government officials, former African Heads of State, clergy and traditional rulers from across Africa.
South African President was represented by Mr. Gwade Mantashe, national chairperson of the African National Congress (ANC) and minister of mines and energy.
In a keynote speech titled ‘The Need for Good Governance and Peaceful Electioneering Process in Africa, former President Jonathan noted that the credibility and legitimacy of electoral processes are hugely dependent on the competence, impartiality and independence of electoral management bodies (EMBs).
He also stressed that many African nations face election-related crises in cases where the citizens have no confidence in the electoral process, especially when they suspect that the election umpires do the bidding of the partisan appointing authorities.
The former President said: “It is interesting that almost all the EMBs in Africa are identified with the prefix ‘Independent’, but the jury is still out on whether these agencies are truly independent as their names imply.”
As a means of deepening democracy on the continent Jonathan, therefore, urged the African Union to establish minimum standards and benchmarks for constituting electoral management bodies and encourage member-nations to ratify such declaration.
He said: “The AU should, through its Political Affairs Department, set up a team of electoral experts to study different models and recommend the system they consider best for the continent.
“Such benchmark should also take cognizance of the need to review the election of judicial processes to ensure that, where election tribunals are set up to specifically handle election cases, one judicial officer do not handle the role of appointing all members of the tribunals.
“Since neutrality of the security services is absolutely necessary in ensuring free and fair elections, it is also important that the Africa Union should establish a code of conduct guiding security officials in charge of elections. All these recommendations should be accommodated in AU’s procedures for elections that should serve as guidelines for election observers.”
Jonathan praised South Africans for the peaceful conduct of last May’s national and provincial elections, adding that the credibility of the process stemmed from the fact that all the stakeholders in the elections had confidence in the electoral commission and the security systems.
He said further: “Once you get to that point where all role players in elections can express confidence in the umpire and the security systems, you would have solved more than 70% of your electoral challenges. Sadly, not many African countries have got to this point. The point where they can beat their chest and boast of political freedom, inclusiveness, independence of the electoral management body and credibility of the political process.”
As the Chairman of International Summit Council for Peace the former President is expected to lead the charge for the association’s crusade for peace and good governance on the continent.
Speaking further Jonathan argued that “Africa’s leadership problem has more to do with weak institutions than the case of leaders serving in office for long periods of time. When the democratic institutions are strong they will develop firewalls that will resist attempts to alter the constitution and manipulate electoral processes for selfish reasons.”
According to the President: “Democracy is not about holding periodic elections but conducting credible, transparent, free and fair polls. African elections must meet minimum acceptable standards for democracy to be beneficial to the people of the continent.
“African nations must improve their electoral processes by establishing systems that will support and deliver credible elections. That is the impetus the continent needs to achieve lasting peace that will catalyse growth and sustainable development.”
Ethiopian Airlines voted best in Africa for the third consecutive year
pian Airlines Group, the largest Aviation Group in Africa, has been voted the ‘Best Airline in Africa’ for the third consecutive year.
Mr Tewolde GebreMariam, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, made the disclosure in a statement in Lagos on Wednesday.
GebreMariam said the airline bagged the award at the Skytrax 2019 World Airlines Awards in Paris on 18 June.
He further disclosed that the company also won ‘Best Business Class in Africa’ as well as ‘Best Economy Class in Africa’ at the award ceremony.
He said, “We are glad to have been named the ‘Best Airline in Africa’, ‘Best Business Class in Africa’ and ‘Best Economy Class in Africa’, based on the votes of travellers.
“I would like to sincerely thank, first and foremost, our global customers for the strong and consistent vote of confidence.
“Thanks to the entire colleagues at Ethiopian airlines, who always make extraordinary efforts to delight their customers.
“We have grown to more than 120 destinations worldwide with 115 ultra-modern fleet.
“We offer excellent connectivity with one of the best travel experiences that helped us become the best airline in Africa and one of the front-runners in the world.
“As a customer-focused and market-driven airline, we always strive to meet and exceed customers’ expectations through our signature service and world-class products.”
According to him, Skytrax is the most prestigious global air transport rating organisation that conducts the world’s largest annual airline passenger satisfaction survey.
He said customers made their personal choices as to which airline they considered to be the best.
Nigerian High Commissioner cautions Ghana against negative reports on Nigerians
Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, has cautioned Ghanaians to stop the incessant negative media reports on Nigerians living in the country.
The envoy, in a statement obtained in Abuja on Tuesday, condemned a situation where all Nigerians livin in Ghana were being branded as bunch of criminals by the country’s media.
Abikoye said the continual reference to every Nigerian living in Ghana as a criminal even in reference to crimes with full participation of Ghanaians was unacceptable.
The high commissioner cautioned that such a development was not in the best interest of both countries.
He said it was wrong for Ghanaians to take the actions of “insignificant few elements from Nigeria to criminalise and unfairly canonise a brotherly country like Nigeria as a country of criminals who have come to disturb the peace of Ghana.”
According to the high commissioner, the daily negative reports on Nigerians by the media in Ghana “has caused untold pains, agony and apprehension to the teaming law abiding Nigerians living in Ghana.
“This set of people comprises astute businessmen, bankers, insurance brokers, students as well as investors.”
Abikoye however said the High Commission would not condone any act of criminality on the part of Nigerians living in Ghana, stressing that it would not accept general branding of all Nigerians as criminals either.
He said: “A situation where five Ghanaians in company of three Nigerians allegedly kidnapped two Canadians but seems to enjoy wide coverage as a crime committed by Nigerians and considers Ghanaians only as accomplices leaves much to be desired on the objectivity of such report.”
Abikoye was referring to a recent kidnap of two Canadians in Ghana which led to negative media reports on Nigerians resident in the country.
The high commissioner therefore cautioned the media in Ghana to be “highly circumspect in their reportage.”
Abikoye reminded Ghanaians of the good relations between Nigeria and their country as well as the brotherly cordial relationship between President Muhammadu Buhari and President Nana Akufo-Addo.
He stressed that this should not be jeopardised by xenophobic tendencies.
While cautioning journalist Ghana against what “media trial,” the envoy said whoever committed any crime must face the consequences of his/her action.
“Moreover, such media trials could be seen as prejudicial to the outcome of the ongoing prosecution in court, which sees them as innocent until proven guilt,” he said.
Abikoye gave the assurance that the high commission would continue to mobilise Nigerians in Ghana to continue to be law abiding, saying it was in touch with the host authorities to amicably resolve the issue.
Female lawmaker beaten up by colleague
A member of the Kenyan Parliament representing Wajir East, Rashid Kassim has been arrested hours after allegedly assaulting Wajir County Woman Representative Fatuma Gedi.
Wajir Woman Representative Fatuma Gedi was allegedly beaten up on Thursday morning by Wajir East MP Rashid Amin in the parliament building.
It is alleged that Gedi engaged him in a heated discussion before she was assaulted by the MP.
The MP demanded to know why Gedi, who is a member of the budget committee, did not allocate any money to his Wajir East constituency.
Gedi narrated that she was with her Homa Bay counterpart Gladys Wanga when she met the Wajir East lawmaker.
“He called me stupid and nonsense and then he beat me. I was shocked, I could not believe it. He came again and hit me.
“I told him that Wajir County was only allocated Ksh100 million and we had to allocate money to only areas of priority to the region like water and roads but he told me that was nonsense,” she highlighted.
The Home Bay Woman Representative confirmed she was present during the incident citing, they were heading to the Protection House when Amin met her.
“They started to converse in Somali so I just stood by to wait for Gedi. A few minutes into the conversation I just saw him hitting Gedi on the cheek, she was crying and bleeding. I didn’t know what could lead to that.
“I was surprised that a colleague can assault a female member,” Wanga narrated.
Gedi was then taken to the Karen Hospital for treatment.