If the video trending on social media on the recent military invasion of Niger Republic is something to rely on, then all African leaders need to watch it and learn, if they are humble enough.
It was a gory scene and a day of reckoning for one of the ministers of Mohammed Bazoum, the ousted president of Niger Republic.
The former minister, who was alleged to be notorious for her arrogant remarks while in office, was manhandled in her house by an angry mob after her sudden fall from power, courtesy of the coup.
Of course, there are others in the ousted president’s cabinet who did not regard the poor citizens, who embezzled public fund, aided injustice, among other vices, which the military cited as top among the reasons they took over power. Who knows; the angry mob may also go after them.
The above were also some of the reasons the military gave for overthrowing democracy in Mali, Chad and Burkina Faso, all in West Africa.
In the heyday of military rule in Nigeria, same were the reasons.
As Hassan Diery, a Nigerien journalist, pointed out to the French media recently, it is the bad leadership, corruption and the quest to remain in power that force the military to take over power in some African countries.
“Military rule is no longer fashionable, but the failure of our political class to develop the country and usher in prosperity for the people has been the reason for coups. Why will a man change constitution to enable him remain in power, why will you steal national treasury when majority are hungry and why will the poor go to jail for an offence committed by the rich”? He querried in an interview.
Saddened by the poor leadership, underdevelopment and hardship some African countries are experiencing, George Weah, president of Liberia, noted that, “As long as ECOWAS tolerates institutional coups that allow lifetime presidencies, there will always be military coups.
“And we cannot condemn military coups when we do not condemn those who carry out institutional coups”.
Disgusted over the coup in Niger Republic, the Liberian president further insisted that African leaders must lead right to end coups.
As expected, global and African leaders have condemned the coup, but it has not changed anything as the root cause has not been addressed.
Even, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) led by Nigeria, has even threatened military action against the juntas in Niger, while falling to learn from the failed actions in Liberia, Sierra Leone and other countries in the region.
Rather than military action, the Liberian president, out of experience urged for dialogue. “ECOWAS should work for the interest of our peoples,” he said.
The peoples’ interest in the case of Niger Republic, according to Nia Donkor, a Ghanaian economist with Rand Bank in Johannesburg, is to maximise the value of uranium being sold to the West and utilise the money in developing the country away from being dependent on aid from France.
“The country has been mining uranium for years with little or nothing to show for it because of the undercurrent dealings by the governments involved. A move to stop that is among the reasons for the coup. Africa should be left alone to manage its natural resources for the prosperity of the continent,” he said.
Toeing, Donkor’s line, Samuel Onikoyi, a Nigerian academia in Brussels, said that the coup is likely linked to a struggle for the control of the uranium market, which Niger is the major supplier.
“Uranium is used for the manufacturing of the world’s deadliest weapons, and we know who the buyers are. I think all Africans should rally Niger Republic to save the continent from being the Syria or Ukraine in Africa, where world powers test their new weapons,” he said.
He also fears huge casualties if one of the world powers decides to used mercenary to stage counter coup in Niger, while warning ECOWAS to trade cautiously as it could be used to achieve an aim without knowing it if it chooses to use military action against the military rulers.
On the economic front, the African Development Bank warned that the increase number of West African countries under military rule is a threat to regional stability, as the Abidjan Ivory Coast-based bank in its 2023 West Africa Economic Outlook report, revealed that the region experienced slower economic growth over the past year.
Hence, with the coup in Niger, there is fear of another country in the region falling to military rule and escalating the instability and resulting in much more social and economic woes in the region.
Proffering solution, Onikoyi urged for dialogue, which Nigeria as the leader of ECOWAS, is spearheading with the recent dispatch of a high-powered delegation to meet with the miltary junta.
According to Onikoyi, Nigeria also needs to save the situation in Niger Republic because her citizens like their counterparts in Niger, are also not happy with their fate in democracy.
“If the military succeeds in Niger Republic, it means four countries in West Africa are down, Sudan in North Africa and more countries could be invaded because the cries of poor leadership, corruption and sufferings are same in most African country. Let’s not decieve ourselves, any country in Africa can be taken over by the military because of the obvious reasons. It happened in Egypt too,” he said.
George Weah, the Liberian president, also recommended dialogue, not allowing foreign interests to supercede Africa and her people’s, intereats, and most importantly, offering quality and good leadership that will ensure development, goodlife and prosperity on the continent.
If the above happen, Weah assured that the military will have no excuse or dream of taking over power.
Supporting dialogue instead of military action as earlier threatened by ECOWAS, Yunisa Husein, a voluntarily retired senior security officer, who now runs a private security outfit in Abuja, noted that ECOWAS does not have the strength to engage into any war or even peace mission now because the Nigerian military, which forms bulk of ECOMOG soldiers lacks the frame of mind and ability to lead the region in any combat due to the wears and tears of fighting terrorism and bandits, especially the Boko Haram.
“The region is balkanized now across political and military lines. Before, our soldiers will willingly join ECOMOG on Peace Misson in the region and Africa, but the morale is too low now, the death toll, sabotage in the fight against bandits and the insurgence have combined to make them selfish. No soldier wants to die any more, when his family will suffer afterwards,” the security expert noted.
Again, he feared that adopting military action would encourage all the enthnic militia and terrorist groups to take advantage of the war to cause mayhem.
In conclusion, Donkor and Onikoyi urged West African leaders to see power as opportunity to foster economic development, impact lives, raise the self-worth of the citizens and the image of the countries and the continent at large.
“If our leaders replicate a little of the development and sanity their peers have achieved overseas, the military here will be locked in the barracks forever like their counterparts abroad because the people are happy and no reason to challenge democratic rule,” Donkor said.