THE Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) has warned that most African countries faced the prospects of collapse in the wake of the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic on the continent.
The Executive Director of GJF, Mrs. Ann Iyonu, stated this in a communiqué at the end of the first edition of a three-part series of its flagship programme Policy Dialogue Series, held recently.
The webinar, which focused on “COVID-19, Peace and Security in Africa: Impact, Risk and Mitigation,” was part of the discussion to create awareness on what the African continent faces in the wake of the global pandemic.
According to the GJF, a foundation set up by former president, Goodluck Jonathan, the long history of failure of governance in Africa will be the reason for the heavy impact of coronavirus on the continent.
In the communiqué, the foundation called on African leaders to go beyond rhetoric and start leveraging on their comparative advantage, while they look inwards to develop country specific, original and organic solutions that speak to peace and security issues.
It stated that, “the COVID-19 pandemic is exposing the long history of failure of governance in the continent and if this is not addressed, it may lead to the collapse of many African states.
“There is tendency for African leaders in their attempt to ending the cycle of infection of the virus to shift focus or be blind to the peace and security issues facing the continent,” as the pandemic exposes the vulnerability of many communities and places citizens at a high risk of recruitment by extremist groups.
The foundation faulted the shutting of tertiary institutions during this period of crisis “as counterproductive to the growth and development of the continent as the pandemic presents an opportunity for African leaders to leverage on technology and ensure that learning continues.
“The current approach of city-wide lockdowns and movement restriction denies citizens access to their safe spaces and other forms of human rights.”
It called on governments to train law enforcement agencies on disaster preparedness and emergency policing, while it urged “law enforcement agencies to adopt a human rights-based approach in the enforcement of lockdown and other COVID 19 measures.”
“It increases reported cases of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) in the continent as the needs of women, youth, and other vulnerable groups are often neglected in emergency response situations as posed by the current pandemic.”
Noting how “economic concerns are beginning to take priority over the health, peace and security of citizens,” the communiqué tasks leaders across the continent to develop a robust database and clinical evidence about the pandemic in Africa, which will help in developing the right approach in tackling the impact of the health crisis.
Participants were drawn from Kenya, Gabon, Uganda, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Nigeria.