Addressing West Africa’s coups challenge
By John Eche
Evidently, the coups are seemingly back in West Africa and those of us who love and root for democracy should be worried. It is an ill wind that blows no good.
As this piece is being written, the jury remains out about the coup attempt in GGuinea Bissau on Tuesday. At the same time, the other recent coup in Burkina Faso which took place in January, 2022 is also quite indicative of this very disturbing and most troubling point: the coups are back in the West African sub-region and indeed, all across Africa. And we should be worried.
From Sudan to Chad, Guinea to Mali, the continent has lately been experiencing an increasing situation of military intervention in the governance arena. This had been tamed in the decade of the 1990s. Now it is returning.
One notable feature of the current incidents is that they are coming on the heels of public disapproval of the conduct of civilian leaders in the governance and security arena. As the lawyer, Femi Falana noted in a February 1 letter to ECOWAS Chairman, President Nana Akufo Addo of Ghana, it may indeed be quite imperative for leaders of the sub-region to undertake very deepmsoul-searching and critical examination to see that part of the impetus for the unfolding anarchy is the failure of the leaders to run more responsible, accountable, people-oriented and just democratic administrations in real terms.
Part of why this is so galling is that we have been here before. In his book, Coups, Africa and the Barracks Revolt, Ebenezer Babatope highlights this governance deficit as a major factor in many of the coups that the continent had witnessed between 1952 and 1981 whwn his book was published. we are still grappling with that challenge today.
Again, the link to Islamists that has come to constitute one of the very prominent non-state challenges to constituted authorities on the continent may equally be feeding on the same distortion. With governance failings so manifest all across the sub-region there is little enthusiasm for citizens to defend ‘democracy’ and more frontally oppose the clearly well0coordinated Islamist onslaught.