Governance: Is a West Africa spring coming?



Governance: Is a West Africa spring coming?


Tasie Theodore


Developments across the West African sub-region may be pointing to the possibility that a West Africa spring may indeed be brewing, The Difference is surmising.


This is based on informed commentators readings of developments taking place across many countries in the sub-region even as the sub-regional economy and polity continues to be badly hit by factors such as the COVID-19 crisis, poor governance, corruption, intra-national conflicts, dictatorship, electoral systems abuse and a general mismanagement of resources across board.


On Friday, protesters took to the streets in Lagos, agitating once again for an end to the almost four and a half decades-long dictatorship of the Gnassingbe Eyadema family in the French-speaking West African nation of Togo.


In Mali, months of protests have now led to the intervention of the military and the ouster of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita even as the insurgents-besieged nation grapples with putting together a transitional government. Though the regional body, ECOWAS has already intervened and is vigorously trying to help fix the governance challenge in Mali at the moment, feelers are that there is indeed a lot to do to get the nation back to the path of sustainable political order.


In addition to the current crisis of putting together an acceptable transitional government, there are also issues of the near-imperative of national restructuring and writing a new constitution that would better provision against a lot of the faultlines that had led the nation to its present state and conducting acceptable and fresh elections that would inaugurate a more regular government in the Sahelian nation once again.


Coming against the back drop of widespread youth unemployment, desertification, gnawing poverty, Islamist insurgency and intra-national divisions, it is clear that Mali indeed would continue to stand on tenterhooks for some more time coming. And this also has implications for peace, stability and cohesion, across the entire sub-region.


This is even as there is already also a growing sense of unease in Cote D’Ivoire and Guinea where the serving presidents are being accused of manipulating the constitutional processes in their countries to ensure their re-election for additional terms in office which critics see as unconstitutional.


Indeed some analysts hazard that it is this already noted sense of unease that may have propelled Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to caution his fellow heads of states to ensure that they keep within their own national electoral laws and not heat up their own political systems.


Given that Nigeria, as the biggest nation in the sub-region continues to be called up to douse fires that emanate from such governance-related crises that flare out now and again across the sub-region, the concern of the Nigerian presidency in this regard is quite notable. However, analysts also point to the fact that the best way Nigeria and indeed other African nations that really want to achieve traction in this regard and practically avert a West African Spring situation is to more proactively begin by improving their own national electoral and governance systems in addition to making further investments in building a greater sense of national cohesion and trust.


It will be recalled that concern over repression, economic challenges, soaring youth unemployment and related social and political failings had culminated in the Arab spring that affected several nations in North Africa and the Middle East a couple of years ago.



ECOWAS Commission President, Marcel Alain de Souza




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