• Friday, June 21, 2024
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The root cause of military rule in Africa and pragmatic solutions

Closing the ugly chapter: A rejoinder!

For decades, the military has been known for its main function of protecting the state. However, in current reality, it’s glaring that the preoccupation of this institution is to hijack and assume control of governmental powers. Regrettably, this should never have existed in the first place, especially in democratic states.

According to the Colpus dataset, Africa has experienced 222 coup attempts, compared to other parts of the world, for over sixty years. In 2022, over 40 regions of the 54 countries witnessed one or more coup attempts, with Sudan having the highest number in Africa’s world history. This custom is in fact outdated, condemnable in all respects and undemocratic. Hence, this calls for serious attention.

It’s not only saddening that the undemocratic change in government is fuelled by a harsh economy but it’s also propelled and hindered by bad and despotic leadership. Just this year, there have been 2 military coups out of the 17 states that make up West Africa. This is an indication that democracy is descending from the pinnacle of its ladder.

On the 30th of August, 2023, a military coup surfaced in Gabon, leaving people with locking questions as to whether such would surface anytime soon in Nigeria and other neighbouring countries. This followed a precedent laid down by the Niger Republic on July 26, 2023, where there was a military coup which toppled the attention of ECOWAS Nation-states.

Read also: Military officers announce coup in Gabon

Similarly, on January 24, 2022, a group of soldiers led by Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, the commander of the 3rd Military Region, overthrew the president of Burkina Faso, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré. Damiba accused Kaboré of failing to protect the country from terrorist attacks

Notably, the major fuel for the fire of military coups in Africa is levelled on a perceived leadership failure to build the country in line with the people’s aspirations which has in fact, gingered unreceptiveness by the people. It is however trite and safe to say that military rule should not be encouraged.

The root cause of military rule and pragmatic solutions

Against this background, you will agree with me that there are no actions without consequences, just as there are no problems without their causes. This is natural!

The illegal possession and exercise of power is innate and is recorded in the holy books. It’s glaring that the increase in armament and military intervention has reduced, though there is a delicate balance of simultaneous motion of this, mostly in African countries.

Read also: Military coups in West Africa, Wagner group and threat to Nigerian democracy

While a coup d’etat may have been the people’s choice for a long time, it is, however, undesirable to witness and should never be promoted. There are many known and yet unknown problems associated with military coups in Africa. Most of these are primarily characterized by the charismatic qualities of leaders, either positively or negatively.

The first and most glaring reason for a military takeover in any state is based on the government in power. Other reasons revolve primarily around economic instability, grievous human rights abuses, corruption, and regional instability.

It’s crucial to state that the government in power may be the main cause of military rule. In most instances, military coups occur as reactions to government policies. As contained in the archive of history, on January 15, 1966, the first military coup was held in Nigeria. The reason for this coup can be tied to a breakdown in leadership since so many leaders in Africa view politics as a means of amassing wealth rather than serving the people.

This phenomenon isn’t isolated to Nigeria alone, it’s pervasive and innate in everyone’s bloodstream. When obligations are turned into structural business establishments, problems inevitably emerge. Thus, unreliable and corrupt public leaders are among the root causes of military coups. However, the system operating within a territory only reduces the intensity of the manifestation of such selfish desires.

On the other hand, the pragmatic approach towards solving this problem involves having good and visionary leaders in government. Leaders who are popularly elected by the majority through a transparent and independent electoral commission. While this is desirable, this is only applicable in theory. Almost everyone clamours for good leaders but is not always prepared to pay the price. If any part of the election process lacks transparency, the people should reject such a candidate promptly. This is one of the ways of cultivating good and visionary leaders of which harvest will be bountiful.

Read also: Niger Coup: ECOWAS prepare for possible military intervention

Secondly, military coups also spread through a nation’s lifeline via one of their characteristics, which is their “contagious nature.” Military coups are contagious and can spread across borders like an endless ocean. This is because coup “makers” are often influenced or inspired by recent coup attempts. We witnessed this phenomenon in 2021 in Guinea on September 5, in Sudan on September 21, and in other cases in 2022, such as Burkina Faso on January 24, Guinea-Bissau on February 1, Burkina Faso again on September 30, and São Tomé and Príncipe on November 25, 2022.

Upon closer examination of the intervals between these incidents, it becomes apparent, audible to the deaf and visible to the blind, that these leaders were influenced by the coup(s) that occurred in neighbouring countries with similar economic situations. This problem persists in Africa and the world at large.

The lasting solution to this is to highly discourage military coups among soldiers, and the people’s history should be taught in schools. This way, future leaders will understand the consequences and any potential advantages for the nation and its citizens, if any.

Moreover, in most countries, after a coup, international organizations and world leaders urge the military leaders to return power to the civilian government. From a certain standpoint, this is desirable but to some extent impractical. You might ask me how?

First, what would be the fate of the people and the armed forces after immediately handing over power to the elected government? Does that necessarily mean the government will adapt to changes?

In my honest view, I would suggest that if the people support the military administration, it should rule for a good six months, followed by a general election at the end of its tenure, with a mandated law barring previous public officers, including the president, from contesting in any election. This is designed to assess the core values of leaders’ righteousness, be it good or bad.

In conclusion, ‘Africa does not witness military coups because it’s Africa but because it’s poor.’ Many African countries that have recently witnessed military coups are among the poorest in Africa. Thus, poverty, a product of a stagnant economy, is one of the factors contributing to military rule. Facts show that numerous people are suffering in Africa due to bad leaders and followers. Many of us are where we are today because of actions and inactions we took or forgot to take at a point in time, and where we will be tomorrow depends on the actions we take today.

Therefore, the long-lasting solution to poverty is a buoyant economy supported by good, transparent, and visionary leadership. The problem does not stem from the absence of support from international organizations and world leaders, but rather that these supports aren’t reaching the right beneficiaries. Instead, those in power circumvent and accumulate the incentives, benefiting only the privileged few in the country.

I hereby call on different international organizations, non-governmental organizations, and other entities to diligently monitor the distribution channels of all incentives provided to African countries.

With all the above followed painstakingly and reviewed, I am reassured that the lifespan of military rule in Africa will be shortened to the barest minimum.

Ogun is a 100-level Law student at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye. He can be reached via [email protected]