The Concepts of Democracy and the Fundamentals of Good Governance

 Ambassador A.Y. Adams, President of CAAYW

Ambassador A.Y. Adams, President of CAAYW

I assumed it another wonderful opportunity and privilege to reach out to you and the entire world, most especially my fellow young Pan-African leaders and the entire global Pan-African family of Music Unites Africa. On behalf of the Confederation of All African Youths Worldwide, I humbly welcome you to our year of YOUTH EMPOWERMENT AND DEMOCRATIC EDUCATION IN AFRICA. This article examines the concepts of democracy and highlights the fundamentals of good governance and it’s affinities in our society. As a Pan-African Political Analyst, I consider this medium of existence as my personal and professional contribution to the democratic enlightenment of my fellow Africans and the entire global family of mankind. The concepts of democracy and the fundamentals of good governance must be fully understood and practically exhibited in order to build and rebuild a continent of rapid socioeconomic development and advancement that will ensure highly positive achievements in Africa.

Democracy as a form of political organization like other concepts of its caliber has not been easy to define without ideological equivocation. Democracy historically originated more than 2,400 years ago in ancient Greece. The word “democracy” means ‘rule by the people.’ While this definition tells us about the citizens of democracy that govern their nation(s), it omits essential parts of the idea of democracy as practiced on many countries around the world of today. The principal purpose, for which the people establish democratic governments are the protection and promotion of their rights, interests, and welfare. In line with this ideological conception, I opine DEMOCRACY as a concept of governance that has become all things to all men. With this being the case, what then actually is democracy? As earlier stated, it is by no means an easy task to give a coherent definition of democracy in view of the different definitions already given. Many normative definitions of democracy focus on the values and norms of the society while empirical definitions focus on the political realities and structures of governance. The close examinations of this article will present some vivid definitions of democracy in an unequivocal and understandable manner.

Firstly, I want to emphasize the notion of citizen’s liberty in the framework of representative government. Along this analytical plane, DEMOCRACY can be defined as the constitutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to rule by means of a competitive struggle for the people’s votes. Democracy in a representative ideology, is a system of governance whereby all electorate are given the chance to elect a few to do for them what they could not altogether do. For any representative government to be democratic, it must be accompanied by universal adult suffrage, free and fair elections, short term of office and individual liberty. Without these things, any government will cease to be ‘democratic’. As we, present day Africans fight against systems of economic exploitation, political repression, cultural oppression and their accompanying moral, political, economical and social decadence, young Pan-African leaders need to increasingly pay attention to the issues of democracy and it’s propensity for good governance.

Secondly, according to Nzongola-NTalaja, who reasons democracy as a universal form of rule, refers democracy into three basic ideas:

  1. Democracy as a moral imperative; In the sense that it represents a permanent aspirations of human beings for freedom, for better social and political order. One that is more human and more or less egalitarian in nature.
  2. Democracy as political practice or mode of governance based on the principles of popular sovereignty, the rule of law, accountability, citizen’s participation and alternation (meaning leadership renewal or change)
  3. Democracy as a social process; in that it’s a continuous process of promoting equal access to fundamentals human rights and civil liberty for all.

On this analytical plane, we arrived at another definition of democracy, as a system of governance that underscores the plural nature of politics and hence gives recognition to the diversity of social forces in any political community. We must clearly understand here that the bottom line of democratic regime is that, it serves the citizens and not the other way round. Democracy in a proper perspective is a mechanism for enhancing the people’s rights to participate in governmental decision making and policy implementation. The basic essence of my expression in this article is to enlighten its readers on rights as citizens of any democratic nation. The government is to serve us and not the other way around. We must understand with all sense of clarity that if we continually ignore our rights to participate in political decision making and policy implementation, our government will continually remain in the hands mediocre leaders.

We as Africans must at this point in time stand up to the utilization of our fundamental human rights as stipulated in our respective Constitutions. Democracy in any nation must include the rights of the people to have their own aspirations and programs not only political life, but also in economic, cultural and other aspects of life. In other words, democracy includes ending the crisscrossing networks of oppression, exploitation and corruption.

Now that we have been able to establish what the concepts of democracy is all about, in the next episode which will be the part 2 of this article, I shall be highlighting and elucidating THE FUNDAMENTALS OF GOOD GOVERNANCE.
— Ambassador A.Y. Adams

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