With the rise in coups in Africa, some retired generals have warned that the only way to avoid them on the continent was for elected leaders to respect constitutional provisions and ensure good governance in their respective countries.
Recall that some military personnel in Gabon seized power and placed the ousted President, Ali Bongo, and his family members under house arrest. Gabon is in Central Africa.
After the forceful takeover, which brought to seven the number of coups on the continent within the past three years, the soldiers announced the annulment of last Saturday’s presidential election that renewed Bongo’s prolonged rule, bringing to an abrupt end the Bongo family’s 56-year rule in the country.
The Gabon coup is coming a few months after military officers staged a coup in the Niger Republic and detained the West African country’s President, Mohamed Bazoum.
Other African countries under military rule include Sudan, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Guinea.
While not justifying the military takeovers, former generals in Nigeria told The PUNCH that leaders must be accountable and desist from repressive rule if coups must become a thing of the past.
They said the only way to halt the resurgence of coups is for democratically elected leaders to respect the constitution and ensure good governance.
A former Chief of Defence Staff, General Alexander Ogomudia, stated that the coups reflected how the elected leaders ruled their countries, adding that no one would have any moral justification to support a coup against a government that keeps its campaign promises.
He stated, “You can’t use what happened in Gabon as a template for what happens everywhere else. For Niger, have you seen the pictures of the country at all? For how many years has France been collecting nuclear materials from that country, and the country is one of the poorest in the world?
“In my place, we have a saying that if you do anyhow, you will see anyhow. So, whoever was ruling Niger, if he was teaming with foreigners to ruin their country, that is doing anyhow. So, if you have a coup now, it is seeing anyhow. I have no advice.
“Every politician knows what is right. Before resuming office, don’t they campaign? If they stick to those promises, why would they have a problem? If I say this road to your place is not good, I will fix it for you, and when I get there, and I fix the road, will anyone have the moral justification to support a coup against such a person? Those who are planning coups have their reason for planning it. I can’t speak for them.”
Also, Brig.-Gen. Phillip Ashim said the way to stop coups in Africa was to ensure the people enjoy good governance.
“That is common knowledge. It is good governance. That’s all,” he added.
On his part, a former Commander, 1 Division, Brig.-Gen. John Sura (retd.) said for coups to stop in Africa, leaders must respect their constitution and democratic structure.
He added, “There are some basic things African leaders should pay attention to. First, the constitution of every nation must be highly respected. People agitate when they are disenchanted, or there is an unacceptable change in the constitution. If the people enjoy good governance, I believe there will be no coup.
“If you look at the developed nations, no matter what happens, they respect their electoral laws and other laws, so people feel at home that their interests are protected. Once countries are well governed, and there is respect for the rule of law, we will not be talking of a coup.”
A former Commander of the Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven, Major General Henry Ayoola (retd.), also noted that the coups were instructive enough for politicians to change their style of governance.
“Let’s practice true democracy and not just civilian rule. Let it be that it is a democracy where we keep to the rule of law, follow due process and procedures, or the tenets of democracy. That is the surest way of keeping soldiers out of governance.
“The answer is for the politicians to play the game according to the rules. I give soldiers no reason and no excuse to tamper with the democratic rule. Let us practice democracy,” he said.
He said further that the style of governance on the continent had entrenched impunity such that people don’t like processes and procedures.
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