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TERM LIMITS: BEST HOPE AGAINST DICTATORSHIP IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

 

For centuries, the sub-Saharan African people have shed blood and tears from slavery and colonization. For decades, the African people have paid a steep price from bad governance, poverty, disease, corruption, tribalism, lawlessness, lack of accountability and responsibility. The sub-Saharan African people have hemorrhaged from the devastations of the corruption, embezzlement of public funds, cronyism and incompetence of their leaders.

 

Leaders with conspicuous and arrogant intent to stay in power indefinitely –without the consent of the people-- without accountability and no clear path to a peaceful and constitutional transition of power. Leaders with disdain and smear for the country and the people they are supposed to protect and serve.

 

Leaders whose only observable characteristic is grandeur of personality and self-serving ego. Leaders whose only traits and state of mind is to stay in power for ever at all cost, while being derisive and dismissive to the needs and demands of the people, very same people they are supposed to protect and serve. Leaders who conspire to only protect the interests of the colonial master –at all cost— and perpetuate the enslavement of their own people in exchange for absolute and everlasting power. Leaders without humility and reverence to the constitution they took an oath to uphold. Leaders without the wisdom, the meekness of heart and spirit. Leaders without respect for the rule of law, and deference to the powers conferred to other branches of Government and institutions of the country. Leaders who have put personal gratification, personal ambitions, and personal interest before their people and country. Leaders who vows that only their beliefs must prevail at all cost, even at the risk and peril of an entire people and country. In short, leaders who do not love their people and country.

This very strange state of mind of the sub-Saharan man is the culprit, the conundrum that has baffled the African continent for so long. This –extraordinary and estranged-- mental and spiritual state of consciousness of our leaders is what has triggered the massive exodus of epic proportion of this generation of the sub-Saharan African people, in desperate search for hope and a better life in other shores.

As we speak, no one can objectively predict how power will be transitioned in Cameroon when the current system comes to an end. This climate of uncertainty and profound confusion has –undoubtedly-- altered the relationship and trust –and perhaps in an irreversible way-- between the people of Cameroon and their Government and country. If we the people, don’t attempt to rectify the situation, we risk losing our collective identity as a people and as a country. We risk losing –in a permanent and profound way-- the pride and honor that we once held as a people and as a Country.

We just witnessed the inauguration of Barack Obama as he begins his second --and last-- term as President of the United States of America. Much has been said about the glamour, the exuberance, the beauty, the majestic display of the institutions of the United States of America. A celebration of history in the making, crowned by the enthronization of a President, --for his second and last term-- in an orderly, peaceful and constitutional transition of power, before the watchful eyes of the people and the constitution of the country. And again in four years, the United States of America will enthrone yet another President. This peaceful and constitutional transition of power is dictated by the supreme law of the Land of the United States. –It’s constitution--. The founding fathers of this great country –the US--, understood that term limits was quintessential in preserving the Republic and guard it from becoming a monarchy, where one man, misguided by his ego could highjack the system and country, and stay in power for an extended period of time, against the will and consent of the people and at the expense of the country. The founding fathers understood the trickeries and the temptations of power. They understood that, human beings, regardless of how virtuous they may be, regardless of how well intent they may appear, are susceptible to succumb to the temptations of power, and especially so when there are no constraints for accountability and personal responsibility.

We, the people of sub-Saharan Africa must learn from the American experience, and think hard when reforming the constitution of our country. The sub-Saharan African leaders –an especially the Francophone Africa-- have demonstrably shown their innate weakness, their inherent immaturity and lack of wisdom when it comes to power. Think of Cameroon, Gabon, the Congo(s) –or Congo and Zaire--, Central African Republic, Tchad, Togo, Ivory Coast. What do all these countries have in common ? They all speak French, they all use the CFA or some variation of it, they are the poorest, the most indebted, the most corrupt, the most incompetent. They all have had the longest serving dictators, and they were all colonized by France. Yes, the so called FrancAfrique represents Africa at its worst, politically, economically and intellectually. Even after some 50 years of independence, these countries are still in the abyss of development. They still lack the basic structures and infrastructures that could allow them to lay the foundation of development. These are the –francophone Banana-- Republics of guilt, misery and shame. The generational bankrupt “club of consumer Nations” that manufactures nothing, invents nothing, creates nothing, and consumes everything the world ever made. “Well, except of course of the tiny and rudimentary Agriculture for which there is still ample room for improvement”.

Incidentally, the leaders of these countries intend to stay in power indefinitely without consent and accountability to their people. And even when, the inescapable aging process forces them to leave or die in power, they somehow tweak the constitution and trick their people to only cede power to their sons or to a relative as a last resort.

So the question before us the people is: How do we as a people break away from this curse and addiction to power ? How do we as a people shape the psyche of our nation so it does not allow this to happen ? –At least not without resistance from the people--. How do we guard and protect the Republic of the People from this monarchical plague ? How do we rid ourselves --and our country-- from this infectious epidemy that has profoundly infused the circles of power of these enslaved countries ? How do we eradicate this insatiable thirst of the African man –for instant gratification-- to only satisfy the desires of the flesh and ego ? How do we extirpate this low instinct in the mind of our –prospective-- leaders to only respond to the stimuli of the physical senses at not so much of the intellect ? How do we exorcise this demonic addiction to cling to power at all cost ? How do we rid our leaders from the egoistic tendency to only think of oneself at the expense of an entire generation of people and country ?

We, the people, out of love of country, must come together and educate our people on the urgency of our time. We must continue to raise our peoples awareness, and rally them behind a common cause, behind a common conviction that will put an end to the disgrace we have suffered for so long. It’s incumbent on us to imagine a system that will forever prevent any one man from highjacking our Country. It’s our responsibility to think hard through this problem and shape out a solution that will forever free our country from the intricacies of an unwise leader.

I suggest an amendment to the constitution that can be called “Self Executing Term Limit”. The term “Self Executing Term Limit” is not an abstract or just a term limit on paper. Its term limits on steroid. Its term limit that can’t be changed. Its term limit that is self-fulfilling and self-executing. Its term limit that can’t be circumvented. Its term limit that punishes the violators. Its term limits that carries in its construct and formulation, the dissuasive power of punishment and rule of law. It’s the iron fisted rule that effectively ends the term of the President when it ends.

But what if the leader tries to change the constitution as was the case in Cameroon ? What if a majority of knuckled heads at the National Assembly conspires with the President to give him a blank check and extend his rule beyond the end of his term ?

We, the people of Africa must have understood by now, that we need a smarter constitution. A law of the land thoroughly thought through and adapted to fight the demon within the minds of our leaders and prospective leaders. The African dictator is only as smart as the ignorance of his people. The African dictator’s strength plays to the ignorance of his people. He knows that his people are not thoughtful. He knows that his people are fearful and weak. He knows that his people will not dare challenge him intellectually, constitutionally and philosophically. He knows that his people are naïve and easily corruptible. He knows that his people are easily corruptible, self-serving, and only respond to the stimuli of the senses, the desires of the stomach, and the pleasure of the senses. He knows that his people –for the most part-- lack the intellectual rigor, the mental integrity and have very little or no principles for which they are ready to fight for –and perhaps die for--. He knows that his people, for the most part are not anchored in any strong belief and are not committed –just as he is-- to the cause of their people and country. In short, he knows his people too well, and he preys on their weaknesses, fears and insecurities.

If there are any lessons learned from the last fifty years since we became independent, it must be that we, the people must learn to stand up for what we believe in, lest we pay a steep price for the mistakes of a few. We must be stake holders of the future of our country. We must be actively engaged in the affairs of our country. For every wrong you see, try your best to make it right, for if you don’t, no one will. Remember that you are the change you have been waiting for.

We must learn to stand up for the principles of equality, freedom, justice and rule of law. Don’t accept a position of Minister because you too want to embezzle money. Don’t accept a high position in Government because you too want to steal the people’s money, bankrupt the country and chant praises to the –Nkukuma-- President. For the previous prime Minister and others –even as we grant them the presumption of innocence until proven guilty— must know too well by now, how the script of the tale ends. For in the end, there are no victors, no winners in the swamp of corruption, embezzlements, cronyism, incompetence and tyranny. In the end, there are only tears, pain and suffering for those who partake of the supper of shame and ignominy. –In the end, the dead will surely bury the dead--. It’s the law of Karma fulfilled. Our people and our country are bleeding profusely from despair and sorrow. We must try harder !

There is so much to do in this country of ours. So many services we can provide to our people and improve on their lives. Why embezzle your country’s money when there is so much we can do for our people and our country? Why steal your people’s money and rob our children from a better future ? Why so much hate and disdain for your own people ? Why so much self-hatred, self-enslavement, so much selfishness, so much derisiveness to your own country and your own people ?

Only accept a position in Government because you are given the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people and for your country. Accept a position, because you aspire to be part of something greater than yourself. Accept a position because you want to make a difference, not just to your life, but also to the lives of your people. Accept the position only if it does not violate the noble principles that you hold dear in your heart, for these principles, more so than the desires for instant gratification, are your true possessions in changing fortunes of time. History only remembers those who build, and not those who destroy.

And God knows there is so much to be built in our country. –Build new power and water plants for our country to accommodate the population growth, --and deal with the chronic water shortage and power outages--, build better roads in our cities –such as in Bonaberi--, build a second bridge on the river Wouri –and we don’t need the Chinese to do this for us-- to address the painful traffic jams in and out of this city, build decent public housings for our people, build a reference hospital in each region or province, plant trees in our cities to combat the effects of climate change, clean the toxic air in our large cities and reduce the pollution rate in the air we breathe, and I can go on and on…--. There is so much to do and so little time to think of stealing and embezzling the people’s money ! We all agree that something has got to change !

And nowhere is the fight for change more significant than a change in the constitution. We must fight for a constitution that dignifies our citizenry and humanity as a people. We, the African people have suffered too much, and have paid too much of a price to ignore the deep scares of the fresh wounds we still carry. Our people have endured too much pain, shed to much tears and sorrow, paid too much of a price for the entrenched egoism of a few. We simply can’t afford to continue down this road of despair and perdition.

A new constitution of our country should allow only one term of 7 years to the President. The one term clause must be enshrined –and carved in stone-- into a new constitution and bound for the next 35 years. This constitution will guaranty that we will have at least 5 different presidents in the next 35 years. As President, you are elected once for seven years, --with the impossibility to run again-- and then you must cede power. At the end of the Presidential term, the offices of the incumbent and his Government are automatically dissolved with the impossibility of restitution. Upon leaving the presidency, you can’t run for any other office of the land for a minimum of 10 years. As president, you must not change the part of the constitution that defines term limits to your office. –not through the parliament and not even through a referendum--. The constitution must make it unequivocally clear that, trying to modify term limits to the office of the President is unconstitutional and considered treason and punishable with life in prison or death if the country were to surfer in any way for your action.

This is what I mean by “Self-Executing Term Limit”. A term limit on steroids. A term limit carved in stone in the constitution of our country.

This clause to a new constitution will guaranty political stability, peaceful and constitutional transition of power every 7 years for at least 35 years. This clause will guaranty that every prospective candidate to the highest office of the land will understand that, trying to game the system to stay in power beyond the term limit will have enormous consequence and the price to pay is so steep that no reasonable –non suicidal— man can fathom. The risk to even attempt to cling to power is so perilous that even the most contemptible and corrupt mind can’t afford to bear.

We, the people of Africa must be thoughtful, smart, creative and imaginative in crafting a modern constitution that guards against the intricacies and weaknesses of our –prospective-- leaders. The price we have paid for the disdain of these ruthless dictators is too steep. The blood and tears of our people are too plentiful. And the deep scares we have suffered in the hands of these strange leaders are indelible and have far reaching generational consequences than we can imagine. We must simply put an end to it by any means necessary.

Let the lessons learned from our past serve as guidance to the future. We may have stumbled in the past, but we, the people, have the responsibility to stand up and fight for what we know is right and true to our values and beliefs. We have the right to be here now on earth and work to guaranty a future for our children and our country. The fight will be long, the struggle will sometimes be perilous, but the truth and the spirit of the moral Universe are on our side. Our cause is just and righteous, and now that the pendulum of the moral Universe is about to swing back our way, we must be ready to seize the opportunity. And we, the people will surely come out victorious, as the sum of our perils and sorrows have –probably-- already paid the Karmic price for our collective inequities and the compensation for our redemption. We just have to believe it ! Our people and our country are bleeding profusely from despair and sorrow. We owe it to them to try harder !

 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed..”

--An excerpt of the declaration of independence of the USA--

“For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.”

–An excerpt of Barack Obama’s second inaugural address—

For ourselves and for our posterity, we the people have the duty and the responsibility to give meaning to these words on earth during our life time. We must bridge the chasm between the wisdom of these truths and the reality of our times. We must reconcile ourselves to these fundamental and elemental creed that still reverberates in the collective consciousness of mankind of all times. Our profound desire to be free, our love for country, our responsibility to each other as human beings compels us to act, and be a part of something greater than ourselves. We must be the change we have been waiting for.

–The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. – But only when we, the people demand it.-- --MLK--.

The words, --We, the people..— are more powerful than any one man. The three words “We, the People..” are more enduring than any tyrannical Government. The three words “We, the People..” is the sword of Liberty, equality, justice and Freedom. These three words “We, the People..” will chase the African Dictator out of power and free our country from all bondage, foreign and domestic. These three words “We, the People..” sum up the timeless creed that is infused in the consciousness of Man at creation. And when the skeptics, the nay sayers pretend that we can’t, we will respond loudly with the timeless creed that sum up the enduring, triumphant and invincible spirit in the three words: “We, the People..

 

“For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.” –An excerpt of Barack Obama’s second inaugural address—

“For in the end, there are no victors, there are no winners in the swamp of corruption, embezzlements, cronyism, incompetence and tyranny. There are only tears, pain and suffering for those who partake of the supper of shame and ignominy.” --The ANST Fraternity –

Our people and our country are bleeding profusely from despair and sorrow. We must try harder ! .” --The ANST Fraternity –

 

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