Wednesday, April 12, 2017 5:44 pm
Speakers at the 2017 conference of the Association of Political Consultants in Africa on Tuesday in Lagos agreed that the African continent must evolve ways to ensure that election periods are no longer associated with violence but marked as period of celebrations.
They expressed regrets that while advanced democracies of the world have seen election times as times for healthy debates and creative competitions, African countries see election periods as war moment which create tension and anxieties.
Among those who spoke at the opening ceremony of the three day conference at the Oriental Hotel, Lekki, Lagos Nigeria were the Governor of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, his Lagos counterpart, Akinwumi Ambode and chairman of Ghana Electoral Commission, Charlotte Osei, Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Ghana.
In his goodwill message titled “Africa Must begin to Treat Elections as Festivals, not as Wars” delivered by the chairman of the Local Organising Committee of the conference, Mr. Semiu Okanlawon, said that the coming together of African political consultants should be helpful in making political processes follow some scientific patterns.
According to him, “We cannot claim to be ignorant of the critical services rendered by professionals who shape the politics of the advanced, celebrated democracies as we have in the United States, Europe and Asia.
“Of particular interest are the US and Europe where decency, order and finesse have been brought into electioneering, mobilization, polling, survey, fund raising and other critical tools for seeking elective positions. Brilliant, creative Campaign messages compete for our minds and we see oratory at its most eloquent.
“We have seen how election periods in America and some parts of Europe are celebrated like festivals; a period of debates and healthy competitions that turn countries into frenzied environments for colors and carnivals. Unfortunately, African countries’s election periods are filled with fears, anxieties and violence of mind-boggling dimensions.”
However, the Lagos State governor who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Oluranti Adebule, in his welcome address stated that Lagos State, which served as the venue for the occasion is a place where ambitions are achieved and where dreams come true.
Earlier, the Chairman, Local Organizing Committee of Conference, Okanlawon said the association seeks to redefine the way politics is played and practised in Africa.
He said the impact of poor strategies to politics on society is huge adding that “We do not need to argue over this; our politics in this part of the world is bedeviled by poor campaign strategies, poor funding strategies, poor mobilization strategies and other less attractive approaches. The effect of this is that politicians resort to all manners of arm-twisting tactics to gain upper hands over their opponents.”
Chairman of the APCA, Hon Kehinde Bamigbetan, listed areas of concern which the association must address as a matter of urgency.
He said, “As stated in our areas of interests, political consultancy would help in no small dimension in building institutions and enforcing the rule of law; producing workable constitutions; ensuring elections and conflict resolutions, citizenship and participation, minimising corruption in governments and above all, enhancing political communication.”