Voice of Liberty Africa: Democracy and the new order for governance in Africa ~ Fiyinfoluwa Elegbede


In a recently published article on Foundation for Economic Education's 'The Freeman', I offered thoughts on certain realities that can, and should be the role of government towards youth empowerment in Africa. The dominant point in relating to the role of government in free markets as minimally limited to enhancing property rights and removing all barriers to trade notably through deregulation initiatives and provision on infrastructure.

Relating to feedbacks however, which rightly pointed out the importance of government’s absence in infrastructural provision in an ideal free market, the focus here will not be on what government should or should not be doing (speaking of the socio-economic role of the government in the society with regards to emboldening the rule of law through property rights and absolute non-interference from the economic well being of the people), but, on what government should do right giving the circumstance of the deep integration of traditional governmental interference to the day-to-day survival of the typical African.

Acknowledging the only road to economic prosperity through free markets, and the attendant role of government in this, which is reasonably limited to the protection of property rights, as well as the right to life and liberty … it is necessary likewise to relate this role in light of the African societal context and traditional understanding of governance.

In a continent that has severally suffered depressed growth under the most brutal forces of military dictatorship … plus the characteristic effect of such economic hardship … the advent of democracy was the much desired relief for an oppressed people …and notably too, regardless of the economic and philosophic policies of such democratic government, as long as people were able to go about their personal business in PEACE as well as peaceful interrelation with others, absence of internal strife, and the ability to put food on the family table.

While these needs were noble enough on face value, without good governance, they remain rarely realistic as a precursor for economic development. And with the relief from fears of military overtaking of the system of governance, the people of Africa began to ask for increased responsibility from their democratic governments, especially in the areas of the well being of the led.

It is worth noting however, that through the transitional period highlighted above, the general consensus was dominant on what the government should do in order to facilitate an improved standard of living, not about what government should lay hands off from.

It then came to the era of acknowledging a distinction between what governments is doing right, and what it does wrong in the context of the traditional African moral societal principles. These birth popular support of government decisions such as freedom-infringing alcohol ban policy in Liberia, and yet, a generally frowned-upon government pardon of a past government official in Nigeria, Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyeseigha. The dominant concern here, once again, is government, and its relative deep, seemingly-inseparable involvement in the socio-economic activities and of the people.

The ‘dependent’ marriage between the people of Africa and its government has been a union dated several hundreds of years ago, and while this union could be productive with good governance and absolute regard to the security of lives, liberty and property of the people, the average African society refers to the government for solutions to problems caused by the government itself as evident in a highly irresponsible, poverty-inflicting governance.

Separating this intellectual poverty induced union, or redefining this union in the proper role of government in the society will be a continuous but gradual investment in changing the ideas of the people, creating the atmosphere for the battle of ideas and providing the platform for intellectual exchange between policy makers, public institutions and the people itself …a progressive role that takes a gradual paradigm shift, and of which the African Liberty Organization (AfricanLiberty.org) as well as other free society think tanks and organizations are commendably spearheading on the continent.

Until Africa comes to the era of battling ideas, rather than war and infliction of pains, the imposed dependent marriage between the leaders and the led I’m afraid, might just have to be tolerated, but with pragmatic effort towards a shift to the right direction, the direction of economic prosperity.


Fiyinfoluwa writes from the United States of America and he is a member of the AfricanLiberty.org VOICE OF LIBERTY AFRICA Platform

Fiyinfoluwa argues Africans are asking deeper questions beyond just democracy