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Farm House Dialogue: The Media in Democracy
March 15 -17, 1991

The 15th Farm House Dialogue on “The Press In Democracy” is the second in a new ten-topic series on Democracy. It took place at the Obasanjo Farms between Friday March 15 and Sunday March 17, 1991.

The first order of business was to agree on a framework for the dialogue. Mr. Tunji Oseni presented a working paper (Appendix A) that became the peg around which the parameters for the discussions were drawn. Emphasizing that “The Press” must be understood to refer to both print and electronic media, the paper outlined ten roles which the press should perform in a democracy. Consequently, Mr. Tunji Oseni proffered ten contemporary issues that should be included in the present Dialogue. In particular, he drew attention to section 22 of the 1989 constitution (sec.21 in the 1979 constitution) which states the obligations of the mass media as follows: “The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives (contained in this chapter) and highlight the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people”.

After extensive discussion, the participants agreed to accept the definition of democracy earlier agreed on in Dialogue 14 as “government by organized and sustained popular consent”. It further accepted to agree to address the following issues:

  • What does “the Press” encompass?
  • The Evolution of the Mass Media in Nigeria
  • The Issue of Mass Media Ownership
  • The legal framework within which the Mass Media operate
  • The role of the Mass Media in a democracy in a developing polity.
  • Training and Orientation of Mass Media Practitioners in the light of the requirements of development.
  • Performance criteria for evaluating the Mass Media Role in democracy.
  • Special Problems.
  • Recommendations

Conclusions and Recommendations

The Dialogue drew the following conclusions and made the following recommendations:

1.   The Media in Nigeria must assist in building and maintaining an environment conducive to democracy in the country. It must promote free choice of leadership, especially through the ballot box; respect for the rule of law by both the rulers and the ruled; social justice and equity as well as respect for human rights. In carrying out this role, the media must not be merely a “mirror” of society passively reporting events. They must act as the watchdog of the citizenry and the instigators of positive change.

2.     To effectively perform its role, the Media must be independent. This does not mean absence of government involvement but rather that the Media should be given the freehand to perform within the ethics of the profession even when they are owned by private individuals.

3.   On its parts, the Media must operate in a responsible manner by exercising a strong sense of fair play and a deep respect for truth in the handling of news and opinions.

4.   To maintain its independence while still being responsible, the media must operate an effective system of self-monitoring and self-Supervision.

5.   Media and democracy go hand-in-hand. A viable and articulate press is essential for the creation and sustenance of democracy.

6.   Since democracy is about popular participation, the media must play the role of providing a link between the rulers and the ruled articulating and constructively criticizing the policies and goals of the former, and disseminating the views and opinions of the latter.

7. The media has an important role in democracies to assist in entrenching a political culture that allows for orderly succession, especially of civilian-to-civilian administration.

8.  The Media must deliberately work to improve upon its performance criteria so that it can restore the confidence reposed in it by the generality of media users.

9.   The media should adopt a more positive approach to newsgathering. It should take greater pains to investigate reports and should avoid the temptation to regard as gospel truth whatever comes from top government officials who should always be held accountable for their actions. Such accountability must include being asked to account for unfulfilled promises made to the people.

10. Media ownership is a public trust. This means that whoever owns a media organization does so on behalf of the people and should therefore not use it to destroy any individual or group. This also means that the government must stop its practice of regarding the media as mere propaganda instruments to disseminate only information favoured or favourable to it.

11.  Public officials must grant the media access to public information, as a constitutional obligation. Any laws restricting such access or likely to restrict media performance in general must be resisted.

12. There is need to ensure that the training of journalists is such that prepares them to function positively in promoting development within a culture of democracy. In this wise, major media organizations should maintain in-house training facilities for inculcating in young journalists the virtues of persistence, fairness and other aspects of the accepted ethics of their profession.

13.  The Gulf War exposed the weakness in global information flow, which is heavily titled against the Third World. The participants therefore recommended that all effort be made by countries that are weak in their capacity to access information to gain strength in unity by encouraging pooling of resources in such international news organizations as PANA, OPECNA, and national news agencies such as NAN. Other aspects of imbalances in news flow that must be addressed within the nation include the need to give voice to underprivileged groups such as women and the rural populace.


The Kampala Document: Towards a Conference on
Security, Stability, Development
And Co-operation in Africa
May 19 - 21, 1991, Kampala Uganda

Africa Moves to Launch a Conference on Peace, Security,
Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa

For the first time ever, the 1991 OAU Summit of African Heads of State and government, acknowledged in its final communiqué that “there is a link between security, stability, development and cooperation in Africa”. Leaders at the summit recognized that the problems of security and stability in many African countries have impaired these countries’ capacity to achieve the level of intra-African and inter-African cooperation necessary to attain that critical goal of integration of the continent for the socio-economic transformation of African countries. This important reflection in the final communiqué of the meeting of the African leaders derived from a current initiative for Africa to establish its own “Helsinki” process designed to suit the realities of the continent and the specific circumstances of African countries.

In particular, the discussions of the African leaders and the conclusions reached on the whole question of security and stability in Africa took place against a background of a historic gathering at the Kampala forum between the 19th and 22nd May, 1991 which deliberated on a proposal to launch a Conference on Peace, Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA). Over 500 people including a number of current and former African Heads of state attended The Kampala Forum. They then adopted The Kampala document, which effectively maps out a framework for governance and development in Africa in the 90’s and into the 21st Century. The Document simultaneously addresses the problems of security and stability in Africa and set forth the necessary process of democratisation as a pre-requisite for the peace and tranquillity that Africa needs to sustain a sufficient level of cooperation for the integration and development of the African continent.

The Kampala Document was discussed both by the OAU Council of Ministers and the OAU Summit in Abuja. The compelling message of the Kampala Document to the Abuja meetings was that “the security and stability of each African country was inseparably linked with the security of all African countries” and that “Africa cannot make any significant progress on any other front without creating, collectively, a lasting solution to its problems of security and stability”

In echoing the Kampala proposals for CSSDCA, President Kenneth Kaunda of Zambia who, on behalf of all other African leaders replied to the opening statement of the newly elected OAU chairman President Babangida of Nigeria, compared the CSSDCA with the Treaty of the African Economic Community (that was subsequently signed) and concluded that the two initiatives “represented the two sides of the same coin”. He emphasized however, that CSSDCA, like the Treaty for the African Economic Community, should be implemented within the OAU framework.

A number of leaders, perhaps as a reflection of their own domestic situation, advised on the need for some caution in the implementation of CSSDCA, yet the OAU Council of Ministers and the OAU Summit both recognized the importance and the necessity for the CSSDCA.

The Kampala Document represented a rare occasion where such a far reaching initiative has emerged, not from within the organs of the OAU or African intergovernmental organization(s), but rather, in a gathering of many Africans from all walks of life under anon-governmental organization –the Africa Leadership Forum. Therefore, quite apart form the far reaching fundamental changes called for in the Kampala Document with respect to the whole question of governance in Africa, such an important initiative from a gathering under a non-governmental organization faced a particularly unique situation because it had no precedent in the OAU. It is perhaps this factor that led President Joachim Chissano of Mozambique to emphasize at the summit-while speaking on the CSSDCA – that important ideas in history including the “Helsinki” process (for Europe) have always originated from individuals, often acting in their personal capacities. President Chissano made a powerful case for Africa to encourage such individual initiatives.

Regarding the implementation of the CSSDCA, the OAU summit decided that the Secretary-General of the OAU should: a) formally forward a copy of the Kampala document to each OAU member state for any additional input such a member state may have; b) convene a meeting of a group of experts to reflect on additional suggestions/proposals from OAU member states prior to the submission of the Document to the OAU Council of Ministers in February, 1992 and on to the Summit in June, 1992.

While no single African country opposed the Kampala Forum proposals at the Abuja meetings, procedural matters were at the heart of the agreement reached on the steps for the furtherance of the CSSDCA process in Africa. An overwhelming majority of African countries – having welcomed this initiative at an OAU Summit level, and in recognition of an increasingly precarious security situation and socio-economic crises in the continent, did not show any signs of wanting to delay the launching of CSSDCA. In consequence, it was recognized as being self-evident that unless (African leaders) collectively tackle the security and stability problems of the continent, Africa will have no chance for socio-economic transformation. Accordingly, Africa is clearly on the move to achieve its own “Helsinki” process within itself and between itself and the outside world that impacts and impinges on it.

The successful negotiation at the CSSDCA will open new vistas and establish a new era for Africa; an era that will promote stability, prosperity and the de-marginalisation of Africa.


The Challenges of Post-Apartheid South Africa in Africa
            Windhoek, Namibia , September 8-10, 1991

At the invitation of President Sam Nujoma of Namibia, the Forum convened from 8- 10 September 1991 a conference in Windhoek on “The Challenges of Post-Apartheid South Africa in Africa”. This conference addressed two principal objectives:

-           to focus on the need for new economic and social mechanisms to foster economic and regional co-operation in the southern African region;

-           to focus on measures to redirect resources within South Africa with a view to supporting and stabilizing the emerging non-racial society.


Farm House Dialogue: Poverty and Democracy
September 20 - 22, 1991

The 18th Farm House Dialogue on the topic Poverty and Democracy was held at the Obasanjo Farms Nigeria Limited, Ota from 20th to 22nd September 1991. In his introductory remarks, General Olusegun Obasanjo observed that poverty is an all consuming, complex and multi-dimensional concept with multifarious cause and no simple panacea or therapy. Thus the approach to eradicating poverty or reducing the attendant problems it creates for democracy must equally be multi-dimensional, and must require the commitment of the entire society. According to General Obasanjo no matter how graphic the statistics on poverty appear, they can only paint a pale picture of the actual situation. They certainly cannot depict in sharp enough focus the grinding deprivation and want. (See Appendix II for full text).

In his own address, the Chairman of the Dialogue, Mr. S. G. Ikoku cautioned that a semantic approach to the definition of the word “democracy” will miss the point and the spirit of the topic being discussed. He noted that the attempt to define democracy in Dialogue 14 on “Democratic Process in Multi Nationality” will be too narrow for the purpose of the present Dialogue. He therefore proposed that the concept of democracy should be examined form two points of view, that is, as ideology and as politics. Democracy, as ideology, is the philosophy of governance which sets a high premium on the basic freedom or fundamental human rights of the citizen, the rule of law, the right to property, the free flow of information and the right of choice between alternative political positions. On the other hand, democracy as politics, is concerned with the institutions and processes of governance. These institutions and the procedures of governance that they elicit tend to foster consensus and whilst simultaneously promoting and sustaining respect for the ideology of democracy.

In concluding his remarks, Mr. Ikoku noted that in our bid to erect political democracy in Nigeria, we have so far been copying the Western models. We have tended to forget that the two societies are different and are operating at two different levels of development. He argued that much of our political  problems stem from this approach. He therefore advocated a new democratic system in Nigeria based on the realities of our social, economic and cultural environment and taking due cognizance of our communal values and basic predilections as a people. (See Appendix III for full text).

Reacting to the two papers presented, participants agreed that democracy is to date the best ideology for the governance of human societies because it takes due cognizance of human nature, especially in the area of consultation and involvement in the process of decision-making. The Dialogue also acknowledged that the precepts and tenets of democracy are strongly rooted in our traditional society. It noted various efforts and attempts of successive governments in Nigeria towards establishing and sustaining  democracy in the country.

On Democracy and Poverty, the Dialogue noted that there exists an inverse relationship. It was agreed that Democracy is indeed the foundation for the elimination of poverty since it starts by encouraging individuals to be the architect of their own fortune.

Conclusions and recommendations

The Dialogue strongly stresses the need for Government to avoid a haphazard strategy for the elimination of poverty. It should focus sharply on and regard as its primary responsibility the challenge of seeing the development of the country as essentially human development. Even when the emphasis is on promoting the role of the private sector in stimulating the growth of the economy, government still has an enormours role to play to ensure that all this takes place in the context of greater equity and less inequality in the productive rewards to individual citizens.

Democracy will thrive, when poverty, in all its different facet are eliminated or drastically reduced. Poverty, on the other hand, will be on the run when democratic practices and ethos become the order the day.

Find below list of Farm house Dialogues held in 1991:

  • Democratic Process In a Multi-Nationality (8 – 10 February 1991)
  • The Media in Democracy (15 – 17 March 1991)
  • Economic Democratisation (14 – 16 June 1991)
  • Law and Human Rights in Democracy (2 – 4 August 1991)
  • Poverty and Democracy (20 – 22 September 1991)
  • Religious Pluralism and Democracy (6 – 8 December 1991)


Joint ADB/ALF Conference on
Domestic Resource Mobilisation in Africa
September 30 – October 1 1991, Abidjan – Cote d’Ivoire

A Conference jointly convened by the Africa Leadership Forum and the African Development Bank took place in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire on 30 September – October, 1991, to examine the vital issue of domestic resource mobilization in Africa. The Conference was attended by senior level experts from within and outside Africa. All participants took part in their personal capacities.

The Conference reviewed current flows of resources for investment in Africa and the principal sources of such recourses i.e. domestic savings; external private inflows, particularly, foreign direct investment and loans; and , official development assistance. It was established that, with respect to Africa, domestic savings and private capital inflows have continued to decline in recent years; and that the level of development assistance has stagnated or decreased in real terms.

In consideration of current global conditions in terms of demand for investment capital and development assistance, as well as the inclinations of donors, or private investors it was felt that the prospects of attracting increased inflows of such resources to Africa were, in the short-term, negligible. Consequently, and regardless of the situation pertaining to the other sources of investment resources, the Conference recognized that conforming to the clear development patterns that have obtained in other societies, Africa’s economic recovery and growth can be achieved only through a sustained high level of domestic savings for investment.

It was emphasized that domestic resources entailed more that financial assets and covered a whole range of factor inputs i.e. human recourse; natural resource and various forms of raw materials, socio-economic infrastructure and all forms of institutional capability, technology know-how. The Conference, however, focused on the mobilization of financial resources, while making appropriate references to other factor inputs.

In consideration of the necessity and prospects for domestic financial resource mobilization, the Conference reaffirmed, as its point of departure, the fundamental principle of savings as a function of income and was convinced that substantial potential savings existed in Africa, in spite of the current low levels of income. In this context, implementation of measures to raise income levels in Africa should be carried out simultaneously with greater measures to mobilize existing resources. This led Conference participants to a consideration of the current constrains to domestic resource mobilization; and the actions that, need to be taken to enhance the prospects for such mobilization.


New Avenues for Technical Cooperation in Sub-Saharan
            Africa – Maastricht, Netherlands, 18 – 20 October 1991

In October 1991, the Forum jointly with the European Center for Development Policy Management in Maastricht, Netherlands, organized a seminar titled “New Avenues for Technical Co-operation in Sub-Saharan Africa”.


Democracy And Governance In Nigeria
November 29 – December 1 1991, Ota, Nigeria

The current wave of pro-democracy movement that is sweeping through most parts of sub-Saharan Africa is undoubtedly a welcome development. Of fundamental essence is the fact of its being a process and movement that is internal to Africa.

It is, therefore, necessary to examine the nature and forms of this welcome development to allow for the sharing of relevant lessons and experience. Again, such an exercise would encourage the need to identify the problematics of governance in Africa.

These were part of the issues participants at the Africa Leadership Forum International Conference on Democracy and Governance in Africa deliberated upon during this meeting.

This report is a summary of what transpired within those three days and the subsequently adopted recommendations and suggestions.

It would be interesting to note that as the conference was winding up its proceedings, the military struck again in Togo. Participants naturally found the development reprehensible and objectionable and issued a statement to that effect.

Summary of Main Conclusions

A conference organized by Africa Leadership Forum took place on 29 November – 1 December, 1991 to examine the topic Democracy and Governance in Africa. Some forty-five eminent individuals from twenty African and non-African countries participated at the Conference in their personal capacities.

Opening remarks at the Conference were made by Olusegun Obasanjo, Chairman, Africa Leadership Forum. Aristides Maria Pereira, former President of Cape verde and Marvyn Dymally, USA Congressman (D-California). A keynote address was delivered by Maria de Lourdes Pintasilgo, former Prime Minister, Portugal and member of the European Parliament and Inter- Action Council. Specific country experiences were presented on Benin, South Africa and Zambia respectively by Albert Tevoedjire who was a Presidential candidate in the 1991 Benin Republic multiparty elections; Dr. Frederick Van Zyl Slabbert, Opposition leader and president, Institute for A Democratic Alternative for South Africa and Daniel Lisulo, former Primer Minister and founding member of the Movement for Multiparty democracy in Zambia which recently won the multiparty elections in his country.

Prior to the specific country experiences, the conference considered Africa’s experiences in democracy and governance; the nature and requirements of the kind of democracy and governance desirable by Africa; and, the role of the international community in the enhancement of democracy and governance in Africa. Each of the topics were discussed by the participants extensively. Opportunity was also given to specific participants to relate evolving transitional situations in their respective countries. In this connection, the conference was briefed on current developments in the Central African Republic; Equatorial Guinea, Bangladesh and South Africa.


Africa Forum

After much groundwork, the Forum was able to establish and launch an organ to focus on and disseminate the ideas for which it stands.  “The Africa Forum” – A Magazine of Leadership of Development Ideas is conceived as an independent, authoritative magazine to be published in French and English.. The idea for this new publication arose at the inaugural programme of the Africa Leadership Forum in late 1988 in order to contribute to African development, and by extension, world development by

-        portraying positive role models in all walks of life;
-        enhancing performance generally, but leadership in particular;
-        being a source of inspiration and encouragement for incumbents as well as potential African leaders;
-        discussing current issues of development;
-        being a forum for exchange of ideas and views;
-        analyzing and projecting current trends in policies and socio-political issues;
-        serving as sign posts and caution for leaders and players on the leadership scene;
-        promoting communication among potential leaders.

Initially, it will be a learned, quarterly magazine co-coordinated and produced from a base in London.  The maiden issue appeared in February.  Mr. Ad’Obe Obe, a highly experienced and respected professional and most recently the editor of West Africa magazine, serves as Editor-in-Chief.

The target leadership of the Forum will be individuals, universities, research institutions, corporations, Governments, non-governmental organizations and other potentially interested groups, inside and outside of Africa, who are not only interested in Africa development but appreciate that effective leadership is the key to progress.

An honorary editorial advisory board has been established, consisting of:

Margaret Busby (Ghana), Chris Cviic (United Kingdom), Pierre-Claver Damiba (Burkina Faso), Basil Davidson (United Kingdom), Ray Ekpu (Nigeria), Ibrahim Fall (Senegal), Mohammed Heikal (Egypt), Rushworth Kidder (United States), Flora Lewis (United States), Bona Malwal (Sudan), Charles William Maynes (United States), Roberto Savio (Italy) and Allister Sparks (South Africa).

Africa Forum was launched on 12 February 1991 in London.  Lord Callaghan of Cardiff, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, delivered the keynote address.  Other speakers included former Agriculture Minister of Cote d’Ivoire M. Bra Kanon and Marie-Angelique Savane of Senegal.

The initial print run will be 10,000 copies of the English edition and 5,000 copies of the French edition.  The journal will have a worldwide circulation targeted at individuals and organizations who in their various capacities are concerned and involved in development generally, but African development in particular and appreciate the fact that effective leadership is the key to progress.  Copies will be circulated to heads of governments, top government officials, decision makers, top business executives, entrepreneurs, private individuals, educational institutions, research organizations, voluntary organizations and world libraries.

A major regular feature of Africa Forum is a series of in-depth interviews with elder African leaders who have been privileged to be involved in African history at the very crucial transition phases such as colonialism to political independence.  Interviews have already been secured from former Tanzanian President, Mwalimu Julis Nyerere with whom the Editor-in-Chief spent a whole day in his village.


The Forum agreed with UNDP and the Carnegie Corporation that an external evaluation would be undertaken in order to review past experience and determine aspects of future support.  The evaluation is carried out by Prof. Herbert Onitiri (Nigeria) and Prof. Carol Lancaster (United States) and is expected to be completed by the end of April 1991.















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