Bio’s Biggest Governance Challenge… Weak State Institutions Hampering Development

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By Amin Kef Sesay

The major challenges confronting the state essentially relate to principles of respect for human rights, democracy, and governance, including effective public action, which are the pillars of the legitimacy of government.

In other words, the capacity of the State should be enhanced to regulate, to ensure social dialogue, and to create an enabling environment for economic growth and for the informal sector, on which many people depend.

In this light, the relevance of good state governance lies in the fact that it is a critical factor in accelerated and sustainable economic growth and development.

Bio on assumption of power said that a divorce from the old pattern of governance was necessary for the advancement of economic development, including flawed economic management, centralized and highly personalized forms of government, unacceptable corruption, ethnically based decision-making and human rights abuses.

It was clear that there was need for more progress to provide an environment in which individuals were protected, civil society able to flourish, and government (central and local) executing their responsibilities efficiently and transparently, through adequate institutional mechanisms that would ascertain accountability.

Clearly we can associate bad state governance with societal ills, persistent poverty, political crisis and the prevalence of conflict in the society. To address the above, the Bio government has to adopt an inclusive system of governance in which the various actors can make demands on the government that the system should respond to in all sincerity. This process of inclusive governance should occur at all levels and should entail linkages with existing initiatives.

Decentralization at the local level affords a suitable environment to devise and apply innovative methods in the management of public affairs and promote local development. If properly implemented, the policy of devolution of power and authority to sub-national governments is a proper method of building the legitimacy of the state from the bottom up.

However, the process is subject to some constraints, which include the lack of capacity of local administrations and the voicing of the population’s needs towards legitimate local governance. Other limitations are the low level of accountability of local government institutions and the necessity to improve the quality of service delivered.

Rule of law and Human Rights: The lack of respect by leaders and citizens for the rule of law and human rights often poses a great challenge to stability. The judiciary in many states is handicapped by structural difficulties and inadequate funding. The independence, integrity, and performance of the judiciary would only be guaranteed through adequate funding, remuneration, modernization, professional staff, and regular training.

Public Administration: In this area, there are challenges in the reform initiatives undertaken by African countries. There is an urgent need to enhance public service capacity, the provision of adequate incentives to public servants to retain highly qualified and motivated staff, increase performance and accountability, as well as reducing corruption. The use of ICT in government requires further encouragement and service delivery improvement.

Other challenges: Other important challenges at the national level include the lack of civic education among citizens and civil society leading to low participation in the political process at both national and local levels, low gender participation especially in the legislature, weak exploitation of the potential of traditional rulers in the governance process, and the lack of credibility of the electoral system, especially of the Electoral Commission.

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