Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

How poor governance and leadership provoke radicalization in Africa

In present Day Africa, so many terminologies including extremism, terrorism, and radicalization among others have remained the very frequently used words on the continent. This is partly because, these vices have gained grounds on the continent in recent times. Many theories and schools of thoughts have been advocated as to why a continent that is richly blessed in both natural and human resources can be this susceptible and a breeding hub to the above mentioned vices.

Many pundits have largely blamed African governments for the heightened radicalization on the continent, citing poor governance and bad leadership as some of the reasons why the continent has become tumultuous in the modern-day society.

The phenomena have really been rooted in Africa and is actually causing more harm than good. All these vices are a threat to peace, stability, and growth just to name but these. In trying to instill democratic principles, some African governments turn to infringe on the rights of its citizens on the other hand some people think that there is a strong influence of some leaders and elites in this difficult matter to control.

What is governance?

The term governance simply refers to the way or manner of leading a particular entity, be it a state, organization, a people etc, either in a political, religious, or social milieu.  However, in most cases, governance is always likened to politics. As coined by the Cambridge dictionary, Governance denotes the way that organizations or countries are managed at the highest level, and the systems for doing this. On its part, leadership refers to the person at the helm of affairs. The reason why the two terms governance and leadership are always used in the same context.

Causes of radicalization

Many factors seem to be at the centre of radicalization or extremism on the African continent. Aspects like marginalization, gender inequality, youth unemployment (which lead to frustration), poverty and most especially poor or weaker state institutions (that don’t meet the aspirations of the people), crackdown on peaceful demand for reforms, infringement on the democratic rights of citizens by dictatorial regimes, are all factors that expose a state to violent extremism or terrorism. At this juncture, Democracy in its essence is fully challenged, and with the reawakening and consciousness of the minds of Africans, they become violent in pressing for reforms, and as such exposing the continent to terrorism, arms proliferation etc.  There is therefore an urgent need for African governments to arrest man-made governance challenges and save countries from sliding terrorism and other negative vices that act as impediments to the political, social and economic growth of the continent.

According to an anonymous speaker, Poor governance and Leadership is characterized by unaccountable bureaucracy, unenforced or unjust legal systems, abuse of executive power, wide spread of corruption, arbitrary policy-making which is common in Africa. As a result of these, it has led to individuals or groups of people coming together to adopt increasingly extreme political, social or religious ideas and aspirations that reject or undermine contemporary ideas and expressions of freedom of choice. And this process leads to violence.

Reacting to this global problem, Papam Geuye, a political analyst reiterated that, many African governments are coming to face with increasing radicalization and the resurgence of violent or terrorist factions in their respective nations. For more than a decade now, many terrorist attacks have been perpetrated in Africa, mainly in Nigeria, Cameroon, Mali, Kenya, Somalia, and Burkina Faso among others. However, in the face of this threats, African governments, elites and other stakeholders are seeking solutions to the problem.  Recently, an antiterrorism conference was held in Nairobi Kenya to try to bring out a perfect roadmap or strategies that can completely stamp out radicalization or terrorism from a continent that is striving to excel economically.  That notwithstanding, some schools of thought have had it that the best way to stamp out radicalization or terrorism which is prevalent among young Africans is by respecting human rights, solving the economic problems and heeding to the many demands of the young people. By so doing the governments’ will be indirectly solving the vice, which is gaining grounds on the continent in present-day life. The UN Chief Antonio Guterres noted ‘’radicalization, terrorism and conflict cannot be resolved through enforcement alone.

For terrorism to be defeated, it is essential that African counter-terrorism is holistic, well-funded, underpinned by respect for human rights, and — most importantly – backed by strong political will’’.  This is partly to say the approach by some governments in responding to the demands of its people have influence radicalisation on the continent.  According to Deric Ngong Ndi; Resource person on Comparative Education, the system of governance in most of our African nations is one that sadly contributes to radicalization of conflicts across Africa. Accentuating on a one major definition of democracy that states that…”A government is by the people, for the people and of the people’’. He noted that this definition indicates that leaders who are democratically elected are supposed to fulfil the aspirations of those whom they govern in the best ways possible.

It is sad to say that we haven’t been able to experience this in our own context in Africa. Most often, when people agitate because they feel that their aspirations are not being met, the leaders turn to use force and suppression which can only help to radicalize a situation. Also, in one of the best ways of conflict management, it is stated that “one should never let the sun set on an issue”. Sadly too, in most of our African nations when problems are brought to the authorities, they often shun their attitudes towards such and this will only reincarnate another time in a more dangerous way. In a nutshell, it is a great challenge for African governments and the global world to address youth problems. Vulnerability of youths itself is already a major threat to the continent. With a fragile continent, it would be very difficult to fully implement the recently launched African continental free trade area agreement and spur economic transformation of the continent.

Article from AFRIC editorial.

Credit photo/Google images

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