In the wake of the recent military coups in Niger Republic and Gabon in both West and Central Africa, some retired military generals in Nigeria have issued warning to political leaders in Africa.
A former Chief of Defence Staff, General Alexander Ogomudia, stated that the coups were a reflection of how the elected leaders ruled their countries.
According to him, no one would have any moral justification to support a coup against a government that keeps its campaign promises and has respect for the country’s constitution.
He stated, “You can’t use what happened in Gabon as a template for what happens everywhere else. For Niger, have you seen the pictures of the country at all? For how many years has France been collecting nuclear materials from that country, and the country is one of the poorest in the world?
“In my place, we have a saying that if you do anyhow, you will see anyhow. So, whoever was ruling Niger, if he was teaming with foreigners to ruin their country; that is doing anyhow. So, if you have a coup now, it is seeing anyhow. I have no advice.
“Every politician knows what is right. Before resuming office, don’t they campaign? If they stick to those promises why would they have a problem? If I say this road to your place is not good, I will fix it for you, and when I get there and I fix the road, will anyone have the moral justification to support a coup against such a person? Those who are planning coups have their reason for planning it, I can’t speak for them.”
Also, Brig.-Gen. Phillip Ashim, said the way to stop coups in Africa was to ensure that the people enjoy good governance. “That is common knowledge, it is good governance. That’s all,” he added.
Similarly, a former Commander, 1 Division, Brig.-Gen. John Sura (retd.), in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, said for coups to stop in Africa, leaders must respect their constitution and democratic structure.
He added, “There are some basic things African leaders should pay attention to. First, the constitution of every nation must be highly respected. People agitate when they are disenchanted or there is an unacceptable change in the constitution. If the people enjoy good governance, I believe there will be no coup.
“If you look at the developed nations, no matter what happens, they respect their electoral laws and other laws, so people feel at home that their interests are protected. Once countries are well governed and there is respect for the rule of law, we will not be talking of a coup.”
A former Commander of the Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven, Major General Henry Ayoola (retd.), also noted that the coups were instructive enough for politicians to change their style of governance. He added that the practice of democracy should be done in accordance with the rule of law and that the surest safeguard was governance.
He stated, “Let’s practice true democracy and not just civilian rule. Let it be that it is a democracy where we keep to the rule of law, follow due process and procedures or the tenets of democracy. That is the surest way of keeping soldiers out of governance.
“The answer is for the politicians to play the game according to the rules. I give soldiers no reason and no excuse to tamper with the democratic rule. Let us practice democracy.”
He said further that the style of governance on the continent had entrenched impunity such that people don’t like processes and procedures. “We want to do what we like, when we like it and how we like it; that is what is playing out,” he stated.
“I mean how do you explain the Gabon case where the father spent about 27 years ruling the country and the son came spending another 13 years and he just won a fraudulent third term, tampering with the constitution? The best way is not to give the room for it. I don’t like to discuss the issue of looking up to the international bodies to solve our problems for us. It is a shame that we cannot rule ourselves.