Why juntas are taking over govts in West Africa – Shehu Sani
A former member of the Senate, Shehu Sani, has identified reasons for the increasing re-emergence of military takeover of governments in Africa, especially in the West African sub-region.
Speaking in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria in Abuja, Sani frowned on what he considered the increasing re-emergence of juntas in the politics of especially West African countries but maintained that they keep recurring because the conditions were being created for them to return.
“We have seen in the past few years how democracies in the West African sub-region have collapsed. It has happened in Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, and now the Niger Republic.
“Coup d’etats are internal issues and they do not happen within a day. Conditions are created for the military to take over power. And in West Africa today, there are about five conditions that I have noted to be responsible for.
“First is the destruction of democratic values. Elections are rigged. Many people who call themselves democrats have no respect for the rule of law. And the constitutions are consistently violated.
“When that is done, the spirit of democracy is killed and the seed for the destruction of democracy is planted.
“Second, is economic inequity and inequality. There is so much poverty in the land. And when you have poverty, you have social dislocation and social crisis. By that, an atmosphere of illegal overthrow of government is created and giving justification for people to say democracy is not working because people are suffering, so the military need to take over.
Sani who was the Deputy Chair of the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs in the 8th National Assembly identified the third reason as the issue of insecurity.
“The rise of terror groups in the Sahel – Boko Haram, the ANSARU, ISWAP – has made civilian authorities become dependent on the military for their safety and security.
“There is so much reliance on them. And that has given them that thinking and the mental redirection that they should be in charge.
“The fourth has to do with the fact that there is no coordinated attempt to save democracy in Africa. You find that whenever there is a coup, there is no coordinated strategy or penalty for coups. And they happen, and continue to happen
“So the coup in Niger could have been prevented if the democracy was saved.
“Fifth reason: There are issues regarding the election of Niger’s ousted president Mohammed Bazoum which ECOWAS and the African Union closed their eyes to.
“Look at it this way. In Cote d ‘Ivoire, Alassane Ouattara tinkered with the constitution as president and gave himself a third-term mandate. The ECOWAS and AU never raised an issue with that.
“The President of the Central African Republic today has tinkered with the constitution and given himself a tenure extension. The same thing has happened in Burundi. The AU and other sub-regional groups don’t raise questions,” he added.
According to him, a situation where democratic governance in member states deteriorates and regional and sub-regional bodies in the continent decide to speak out only when coups happen can always lead to the military takeover of government.