by Stanley Azuakola
As noted by one of Ynaija’s Front Page columnists, Kathleen Ndongmo, in her piece this Friday, today is Africa Day, “that day in 1963 when the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), presently recognized as the African Union (AU) was founded.”
To commemorate the day, here are the top five hits and top five misses for Africa, five months into the New Year.
Hit 1: Joyce Banda -Madam President
Banda became Africa’s second female president on 7 April 2012, following the sudden death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. The best way to explain the story of Madam Banda to a Nigerian reader is to relate it to two past Nigerian Vice-presidents – Atiku Abubakar and Goodluck Jonathan. Atiku, because just like Banda, he was at loggerheads with his boss, Olusegun Obasanjo; and Goodluck because his boss, Umaru Yar’adua, died in office, just like President Mutharika of Malawi.
Despite the uncertainty that followed the late president’s death, Malawians obeyed the rule of law – thank God – and President Sirleaf of Liberia now has company in the formerly all-boys club of African Presidents
Miss 1: NOI – when merit died
Despite the general consensus that Nigeria’s Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala was the most qualified of all the shortlisted candidates to fill the office of World Bank president, she lost the election. Okonjo-Iweala mounted a spirited campaign but in the end, America’s overbearing grip on the Bretton-Woods institution didn’t slack.
Hit 2: Charles Taylor – the end of a dictator
Closure came the way of the families who lived under the reign of terror unleashed by former Liberian president, Charles Taylor, when the International Criminal Court at the Hague found him guilty in April 2012 of all eleven charges levied against him including terror, murder, and rape. Good riddance, you said?
Miss 2: Sudan vs. South Sudan – Back to war
To be candid, nobody exactly expected it to suddenly become all sunshine and rainbows between Sudan and South Sudan just because the latter is now a country of its own, yet nobody expected it to deteriorate this fast. And the war rhetoric from President Bashir of Sudan and President Kiir of South Sudan does not bode well for peace and stability in the region. Here’s hoping they can get their acts together and live in peace which would lead to prosperity for both countries.
Hit 3: Egypt’s elections – giant steps
Who would have imagined a year ago that Egypt would be having a real democratic election, not the pageant Mubarak used to conduct in his heyday. It’s been a remarkable journey for Egypt these past months, and the whole world is watching closely, praying that the experiment doesn’t fail.
Miss 3: Coups – haven’t we had enough?
This year has already seen two coups in Africa –in Mali (previously one of the most stable democracies in the continent,) and Equitorial Guinea. Thankfully, ECOWAS and the AU have talked tough and are also acting tough against the military junta that led the coup. Despite the slow and uncertain nature of democracies in this part of the world, coups are an absolute no-no.
Hit 4: Senegal – People power
When the people of Senegal spoke, the sound was loud and unmistakable. In March this year, they went to the polling booth and booted out an incumbent who didn’t want to recognise that his time was up. Thanks to the political awareness of the Senegalese people, Macky Sall defeated Abdoulaye Wade, the octogenarian president who had overstayed his welcome.
Miss 4: Nigeria vs South Africa – muscle flexing giants
Since 2011, Nigeria and South Africa have both made it a diplomatic necessity to stand on opposing sides on any international issue from Ivory Coast to Libya. This year they flexed muscles again in the famous yellow fever deportation saga. It all came to a head during the AU summit where the two giants backed different candidates for AU chairperson, effectively causing a stalemate. Perhaps the governments of the two countries need to realise quickly that there is space in the firmament for two shiny stars.
Hit 5, Miss 5: Nigeria
Next week, Nigeria marks another Democracy Day and the first year anniversary since President Goodluck became president on his own merit. The great news is that we are still one and that it would be thirteen years of uninterrupted civilian rule. But, we could be so much better and we could run faster than this crawl.
So that’s our top 5 hits and misses. Which ones did we miss? You can share in the comments section.