By Kingsley Benneth
The Heads of State of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) may have metamorphosed into a cult to keep the region in perpetual bondage.
The maladministration, obvious incompetence and nonchalance to employ a sane change of government by leaders of countries in the sub-region who are members of ECOWAS and who sit, dine and wine at the African Union and ECOWAS Head of State level, appears to be a subterfuge against the black man. com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"> js">
It would seem that the real coup plotters are not the soldiers in Mali, Guinea Bissau, Guinea and Mauritania (though no longer a member of ECOWAS), but the politicians with their expensive suits and head phones gathered in the hallowed chambers of ECOWAS buildings to discuss how to re-grasp the power they lost to adventuring nationalists.
The recent political upheaval in Mali and Guinea leaves no one in doubt as to the expediency of good governance.
Leaders across the continent have been quick to ask for a political solution to the debacles, barring the temptation of a quick military intervention with its attendant collateral damages.
What they however have shied away from asking for, from amongst themselves, is the need to use the opportunity of their positions as Presidents and Heads of Government of the continent to engender proper governance and improvement in the living standards of their peoples.
It is the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Court of Justice, Justice Edward Amoako Asante who warned of the dangers that the incidents in the two West African States portend grave danger to region’s march towards the consolidation of democratic governance in the region.
At a ceremony on 15th September 2021 held at the behest of the UN Association of Ghana (UNA-Ghana) to mark the UN International Democracy Day in Accra, Amoako Asante said that “the developments were ‘particularly disconcerting as it represents the latest affront to our effort at democratic consolidation in a region which has since 2002, experienced such disruptions in six Member States.”
In a characteristics bulk shifting associated with oppressors who don’t see the wrong in their actions, he likened the realities to be disruptions which “are indicative of a malaise with our approach to multi-party democracy, whose normative underpinnings such as zero tolerance for unconstitutional change of government, abolition of tenure elongation beyond the two terms of office, the conduct of free, fair and credible elections as well as the scrupulous adherence to the separation of powers are under threat.’
“As you celebrate the 2021 democracy day against the menacing shadow of the seeming unrelenting march of military adventurers to erode our democratic gains,’ the President said “ an opportunity has been created for those with a role in nurturing our cherished democracy to constitute themselves into a bulwark for its protection.
One is not surprised at such submission especially coming from an interested party who watched helplessly as President Alpha Condé, like his Nigerian counterparts in the likes of late General Sani Abacha and Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (allegedly), sought to perpetuate himself in power against the wish of the people.
Conde’ like his Nigerian replica, General Muhammadu Buhari (now President), exploited the legislature to his benefits.
President Buhari through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quick to dispatch condemnation against the Coup d’etats in Guinea and Mali, in each case describing them as a violation of the ECOWAS Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance and calling for the immediate and unconditional restoration of constitutional order.
In fact, regional heads of ECOWAS in their meeting in Ghana decided to freeze the financial assets and impose travel bans on the region’s latest forceful change of despotism- Guinea; by sanctioning the junta members and their relatives, and insisting on the release of President Alpha Conde and a short transition.
The Commission’s President, Jean-Claude Kassi Brou had boasted that “in six months elections should be held.”
The bloc also piled more pressure on Mali’s transitional government, demanding they stick to a schedule to organize elections for February 2022 and present an electoral roadmap by next month.
In all these, what this gathering of leaders has in common is the rife poverty, abuse of human rights and gross political and social injustice prevalent in their countries.
Take Nigeria for instance, the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has keenly watched, and in some cases, allegedly superintended over the massacre of innocent Nigerians for no other crime than for demanding good governance and social justice.
In a recent interview with a local television station, Arise News, President Buhari had unwittingly given credence to the event of October 20, 2020, when members of the Nigerian Army opened fire on peaceful EndSars protesters at the Lekki toll gate, killing 12 persons (according to a report by Amnesty International) in the process; when he alluded that they were marching to oust him from Aso Rock Presidential Villa.
Added to this leadership hemorrhage, a report by a local news media shows that between 2017 and May 2, 2020, Fulani herdsmen conducted 654 attacks, killed 2,539 and kidnapped 253 people in places across Nigeria.
It stated that the herdsmen assaults against farmers in Nigeria were “regular, systematic, targeted attacks.”
In the report, the author, José Luis Bazán, an independent researcher and analyst stationed in Brussels, Belgium, noted that “Nigerians are suffering widespread and systematic terrorist attacks by, mainly, Boko Haram, the ISIL-aligned Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP), Fulani militias and Ansaru.”
He pointed out: “The Global Terrorist Index 2019 published by the Institute for Economics and Peace, indicates that the primary driver of the increase in terrorism in Sub-Saharan Africa was a rise in terrorist activity in Nigeria attributed to Fulani extremists: in 2018, Fulani extremists were responsible for the majority of terror-related deaths in Nigeria (1,158 fatalities), with an increase by 261 and 308 percent respectively from the prior year.”
The report noted that most of the “Fulani attacks were armed assaults” (200 out of 297 attacks) against civilians (84 percent of the attacks).
The document also indicates that in 2017, there were 99 attacks resulting in the killing of 202 people while 12 were kidnapped. In 2018, the attacks intensified rising to 245 resulting in bloodbath that caused 1,478 deaths.
The number of those kidnapped during that period rose to 29. Last year, 169 attacks, 524 killings, and three kidnappings were reported.
So far, in 2020 as of May 2, according to the report, there were 141 attacks, 335 people killed and 137 kidnapped.
But behind the figures, the document said the attacks, killings, and kidnappings were targeted at farmers who were “predominantly Christians.”
The report said, “Most of the victims are farmers (predominantly, Christians), but Fulani (predominantly, Muslim) have also attacked policemen, soldiers, etc.”
These attacks and the refusal or what it be said, inability of the government to address them stirred another monster in the South West and South East regions of the country where the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), and a group calling for a separate state for the Yorubas challenged as it were, the belated sovereignty of Nigeria.
Consequently, in the South East, lives were lost and public facilities cum private business vandalized and torched because of the apparent inability of the government to live above pedestrian tribal, economic, political and religious jingoism- elements responsible for the coups in Mali, Guinea and other Coup nests across the continent.
On the economic sphere, the World Bank in a latest report estimates that price shocks pushed 7 million additional Nigerians into poverty last year, an increase of nearly 10%.
On the loan fringes, Nigeria has never had it this bad as government crawls on all fours borrowing from every available lending institution.
Available records shows that the country’s external loan portfolio has risen by 366% since 2015, following President Muhammadu Buhari’s most recent request for fresh external borrowing to the tune of $4.054 billion.
The unfortunate fact is that a larger percentage of the money garnered from these borrowings have left no mark on the living standard of the people as data from the National Bureau of Statistics indicate that in 2020, 40% or 83 million Nigerians live in poverty.
If the World Bank’s income poverty threshold of $3.20 per day is used, Nigeria’s poverty rate will most likely stand at 71%.
According to the NBS record, the number of poor Nigerians exceeds the total population of South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius and Eswatini combined.
Like Nigeria, Mali’s extreme poverty rate stands at 47.2% between 2011 and 2015, and 55 percent of Guineans live below the poverty line with very high unemployment rates.
Hunger also poses a serious threat, with 17.5 percent of the population experiencing food insecurity, 230,000 children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition and 25.9 percent of the population experiencing chronic malnutrition despite the over 11 years rule of President Alpha Conde’.
As it is in Guinea and Mali, so it is in Nigeria, Ghana and other parts of West Africa. Poverty, unpredictable political fortune created by greedy leaders, incompetent warlords in power, ethnic loyalists and religious fanatics have left the military with little or no option but to wade in to safe the country from further slide into menace.
Unfortunately, the ECOWAS Heads of State who are behind many of these woes turn blind eyes to the cry of the region until a forceful change of government is initiated.
Until ECOWAS and its brood of over fed leaders call themselves to order, and begin to like former South African President, Thabo Mbeki would recount, place a performance benchmark on one another, the era of military takeover of government in the sub-region may not be over.
In fact, the walk to freedom for Heads of State of ECOWAS begins with good governance, and purging themselves of the emperor and king-like mindset with which they administer their countries.
To manage the disaster they have so far created for the sub-region, a Special Court to try leaders where more than 5 % of the population of their countries lives below the World Bank/UN benchmark for poverty, should be created.
And the punishment should be stiff and brutal for those who among others things are found guilty of complacency, complicity and or incompetence which created political and economic upheavals in their respective countries.
I get jealous of Portable’s other women — Fiancée, Ashabi Simple
Spread the loveAn actress, Akinyanju Omobolarinde, aka Ashabi Simple, who is also a fiancée of controversial singer, Habeeb Okiki, aka...
AGN seeks financial assistance for Amechi Muonagor
Spread the loveThe Actors Guild of Nigeria (AGN) has called on Nigerians and philantropists to render financial support to veteran...
My ex-fiancé responsible for why I’m still single at 34 – Moet Abebe
Spread the lovePopular media personality, Laura Abebe, popularly known as Moet Abebe, has disclosed her reason for being single. The...