Good Governance and Communication
democracy arid good governance to any society, therefore it is incumbent
on governments to enhance the role of communication. It is only when the
message of awareness based on education is broadly disseminated that people
will join the bandwagon of development. But when the role of communication
is down played even the good intended will not blossom and thus will serve
no much purpose. This would lead to misunderstandings, injustice, and
the possibility of chaos and anarchy.
A new century is dawning on us. The things of yesterday are becoming forlorn
and yet their effects would ever reverberate.
The 20th century, which is ebbing away, was a century of a struggles especially
for colonised people to assert themselves. In the attempt, through bloody
conflicts, many of those people gained their political independence, or
what some have described as "flag independence", indicating that most
of those nations that claimed independence from their colonial masters
are still tied to the apron strings of those masters.
The issue of globalisation has brought into greater focus the phenomenon
of interdependence which puts the idea of independence in jeopardy. Who
can talk of independence today, especially in our African developing countries,
where the pace of our development is dictated by outside forces and where
most of the time we almost do not have a say, except to comply?
The 20th century was marked by major events in many of our African countries.
Their struggle to survive tribal and regional wars was a major setback
to development and good governance. Poverty, hunger and disease became
rampant, bringing devastation and suffering
The struggle for power and the reign of terror by some ruthless dictators
were unsettling and so brought uncertainty to people of this continent.
The manipulation of the advanced partners clustered the wealth of some
countries into the hands of a very privileged few, to the detriment of
The wind of political change in the nineties was like a "fresh of fresh
air but fresh air that still whistled with the preponderance of a few.
This instituted the philosophy of the "elite", an "elite" who par excellence
has portrayed itself as the powerful wing of the dying dynasty of dictators.
They have, as people continue to grow in the awareness of their rights,
been looting from those people, unfortunately and have in the process
fostered a culture of corrupters and corrupt. Cameroon ,for instance is
in the vanguard of the corrupt of the world, in whatever sense this has
to be considered
But the people are becoming more and more assertive as they seem to be
raising their voices wandng to participate in the running of the affairs
of their country.
So as the century closes and a new one emerges, many issues of great concern
could be situated.
The continent of Africa in general, and Cameroon in particular is going
through a crisis - economic, political and social.
During the 20th century there has been a generalisation of the market
economy, and that has fostered the formation of regional and sub-regional
There has also been a mounting accumulation of wealth by the richest countries,
increasing poverty in the poorest countries. The imbalance is so scandalous
that those nations with low output are summarily marginalised.
Within states themselves major segments of the population are excluded
because of poverty and unemployment instituting a culture of discrimination,
injustice and the violation of the human rights of many. But for the past
few years the struggle against human rights violations has taken centre
stage bringing into the lime light many activist groups militating for
the rights of persons. The creation of a National Commission on Human
Rights and Freedoms by government is testimony of its willingness during
this period to put itself before a mirror for close cross-examination.
But has this commission been given the free hand?
Many a scholar is predicting a new century crowned with new historical
They are predicting a century of democratic minds, of people in all continents
with a general awareness of the universality of human rights and who understand
the role they play in nation building and what structure they would give
to their society.
The century will bring about the understanding that there must be cordiality
in the relation that exist between the governors and the governed and
how the state which previously was the interventionist produce and seller
should become the facilitator, promoter, partner and arbiter, with performance
profitability and ethics as principal concerns.
When we talk about democracy therefore and look at its everyday implications
of government by the people for the people we see a trend For people to
feel part of the evolution of their societies, they must contribute in
the setting up of that society. They must have confidence in those who
represent them. They must know or be consulted or informed of what is
going on. Their leaders must be credible and they should have a right
to take them off if they do no longer meet up with their obligations.
The concept of good governance therefore embraces democratic principles
It is the putting in place of a plausible political regime, tying it with
the way authority is exercised in society.
- It is insuring good management of public affairs by the state.
- It is how state authority is exercised in all domains especially politically,
economically, socially and culturally, and to what extent citizens are
involved and given responsibility.
Good governance is also the effective, adequate and efficient ways governments
and public administrations carry out their function. And finally it is
the place and role played by the private sector; civil society and citizens
of both sexes in the well being of the state.
This all embracing concept is without doubt a categorical imperative for
any state that wishes to advance. It is hoped that many developing countries
like Cameroon, which have gone through dictatorial regimes since independence
will put in place a system in which their people, their elected officials
and governments will effectively manage the development process, institute
a conducive atmosphere for individual creativity by increasing the involvement
of citizens, while consolidating democratic principles by trying to stabilise
their societies through peaceful resolution of conflicts
Good governance encompasses a democratic set of laws instituting a separation
and balance of power. The justice system must be independent, accessible
to all effective, credible and must guarantee the rule of law and legal
security. The legislature must be responsible, with powers of initiative,
investigation, management of information control and sanction It must
also have effective mechanisms for consultation and concertation with
the executive organ, voters and other segments of the civil society.
Within the context of a democratic society therefore, there must operate
a free independent, pluralistic comprehensive and credible press, which
should act as the gatekeeper or watchdog of the society. It should be
able to check on bad management, corruption and other excesses rampant
in society and also contribute to the education and enhancement of the
well being of the citizen.
The importance of such a press was reiterated when Thomas Jefferson speaking
about file American press in early years of its independence wrote:
"Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without
newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate to
prefer the latter"
The American Founding Fathers saw the charged exchange in the developing
press of those days where just about 30 short weekly newspapers took a
highly partisan stance on issues and enshrined freedom of the press in
tilt First Amendment of the constitution.
More than two hundred years later, that freedom is still being protected
making the news media the third largest industry' in America with thousands
of daily and weekly newspapers, news and speciality, news and specially
magazines, television and radio stations and book publishing firms.
And through such proliferation of the industry, the people are made aware
of their rights and role in society. In fact America is what it is today
because of the volatility of the press which, inspite of its pitfalls,
has endeavoured to maintain standards of accuracy, completeness and fairness.
At the same time, it has played its watchdog role with aggressive effectiveness,
providing the best safe guard for the vigorous democratic process and
That is the kind of press we are talking about. A press that is free and
responsible, one that will foster development awareness and stand for
what is right, honest and accommodating
If the press in our developing countries could act as a catalyst to the
spirit of growth then indeed it is playing its role as the pace setter.
The press in Cameroon prior to 1990, was stymied. Journalists had became
conformists But the law N0 90/052 of December 19, 1990 on Freedom of Mass
Communication while it bas many short gave a different dimension to communication
in Cameroon Censorship and other illegalities on the press and pressmen
continued but a different pace had been set.
Today as we move into a new age of communication, it would no longer be
necessary for governments to minimise the importance of this medium nor
should they consider communication and the press as an enemy. Instead
the press should be used to promote the message of hope and the necessity
for people to participate in the well-being of their society.
That is why the component of Communication was given a special place in
the governance programme to satisfy the need to prepare a vast moralisation
and corruption elimination campaign:
- to cause the public to be aware of the contacts and relevance of the
National Programme on Governance
- and induce the necessary attitude and behavioural changes in Cameroonians.
In view of the importance of communication in the dynamics of development
a communication plan to faster good governance should have as objectives.
- to inform citizens and foreign partners about the existence and content
of the Cameroon programme an governance.
- Convince Cameroonians about the importance of the programme in relation
to the challenges of the 21st century.
- Convince the population on the need for good governance in Cameroon
and the importance of the participation of all in implementing the programmes
- Sensitise Cameroonians on the need for everyone to personally contribute
to eradicating the ills of society, so that there can be a generally accepted
code of ethics, and to advocate the virtues and values of a democratic
If this be the case, this plan is aimed at mobilisation, moralisation
and educating the people through:
- explanatory missions throughout the country and abroad.
- Broadcast of special programmes in the audio-visual media and such programmes
will take the form of micro programmes on radio.
Advertisement - purchasing space in international media and an effective
presence on internet, newspaper articles and columns and other supportive
areas that would bring the governance programme nearer to the people.
The prerequisite for any democracy to function well and for any country
to talk of good governance is the restoration of the virtues and values
of that society - that is to have a code of conduct that is accepted by
President Biya in his closing speech of the 5th National Council of the
CNU party on 21st November 1983 said:
"There can be no viable society without an accepted code of ethics
which expresses the ideals pursued, denounces aberrations sheds light
on the path to follow, exalts tile virtues and values of society."
The president exhorted Cameroonians, if they all reasoned this way, there
will be a change of mentality, preventing and penalising all forms of
delinquency especially delinquency in business ensuring the promotion
of healthy education that inculcates civic responsibility, the quest for
efforts and devotion a sense of discipline and integrity.
And as has generally been established, no activity of any significance
can be undertaken efficiently without the media and in general without
communication An observation of the Cameroonian society reveals two major
ills: The decline in moral values and the low level of civic responsibility.
There is therefore urgent need to tidy up bath the code of ethics and
praxis since praxis depends on ethics.
The ideas and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author
and do not necessarily reflect the views of UNESCO.
Les idées et opinions exprimées dans cette article sont
celles de l'auteur
et n’engagent pas la responsabilité de l´UNESCO.