The Evangelist News Edition, Monday September 4, 2023.By Richard Onyegbule
The resurgence of coups in Africa has raised a lot of controversies over the significance of democracy to the populace. Clearly, the jubilation that trailed these military incursions, in most of these countries, clearly reflects the outright rejection of “these so-called democratic leaders.”
Many of them have transformed into dictators and sit-tight presidents, with proclivity for corruption, nepotism, bigotry and violation of democratic principles.
Hence, the current revolt is a natural consequence of massive brutalities unleashed against the masses and electorate, who voted them into power.
Indeed, it is a truism that “when you make peaceful change impossible, violent response, becomes inevitable. The current revolution is, no doubt, a foretaste of true liberation for Africa.
Everywhere you turn to, within and outside the continent, on social media and other platforms, young deprived Africans are boldly advocating for dividends of democracy, rule of law, transparent leadership and fair distribution of the collective resources of their impoverished countries.
The role of Western countries is a also a major factor behind the current uprising. Their giant colonial footprints, military territories, controversial assimilation policies and cultural influence span the entire continent. With France, as the country with the highest number of former colonies, its influence is quite huge.
According to Wikipedia, French Possessions And Colonies include Algeria, Morocco, Ivory coast, Mali, Nigeir, Guinea, Benin, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Togo, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Congo and Gabon. Madagascar and Njibouti are also on this list.
These former colonies are still treated as ‘possessions’ or mere extensions of France. As a result, many of them remain French puppets, while exhibiting high rates of poverty and under-development. Dr Arikana Chihombori-Quao, former permanent representative of the African Union to the United States, ceaselessly and fearlessly, advocated against the exploitative pacts that France subjected her former African colonies to, for several decades. They still operate under exclusive post-colonial military, mining and trading treaties.
According to Dr Chihombori-Qua, these countries, collectively, pay over $500 billion, yearly, as ‘colonial debts’ and deposit 85 percent of their bank reserves with the Bank of France. These humongous deposits are invested in French stock markets. According to their pact, these impoverished countries submit financial reports, if they wish to access some of the funds. If approved, they are offered a mere pittance of only 20 percent of their money, as loan, at commercial interest rates! Is this not a recipe for coup d’etats? Mali and Guinea objected to this obnoxious deal.
Recently, Burkina Faso’s military junta, under the leadership of young Captain Ibrahim Traoré withdrew from the Non-Double neocolonial Taxation Treaty with France that was established in 1967. This treaty exempts French companies from paying taxes in their former colonies. According to Olivia Rouamba, Head of Burkina Faso diplomatic missions, the decision came as a result of France’s refusal to renegotiate the terms of the unfavorable agreement. Such treaties fuel bitter resentment and exacerbate defiance, particularly among youths against French draconian hegemony.
The recent coup d’etats in Niger and Gabon may not be a welcome development, but it is also important to note that the governments were very unpopular. The military junta merely took advantage of the general disenchantment by the citizens.
Responding to journalists at the United Nations(UN) Headquarters after the coup, Secretary-General Mr Anthonio Guterres said “development is a central objective if we want to create conditions for peace and stability in Africa,” He however objected to military interventions, saying “they aggravate problems. They cannot resolve a crisis”.
Who would have believed that, a few months ago that France, of all countries, would be given an ultimatum to leave Niger. It ran out of town in their ‘own’ Mali and was declared “a persona non grata in a supposedly small village, as Burkina Faso?
Indisputably, this rebellion is spreading and dislodging the continent’s autocratic rulers. Many of these sit-tight African heads of state are now in high panic mode and they are hastily reshuffling their military commands and presidential guards. As at August 29, 2023, Rwandan Paul Kegami, Ivory Coast’s Allasane Quattara and Cameroon’s aged Paul Biya had all reshuffled their military structures. Biya is 90 years old and has been in power since 1982! France may not bother, as long as her interests are protected but many respondents, were of the opinion that Cameroon constitutes a good atmosphere for another coup d’etat.
Former French President, Late Jacques Chiraq was nicknamed ‘the African’ by some news media for his frank views about the continent. He said “we drained Africa for four and a half centuries. Next, we plundered it’s raw materials. After that, we said they are good for nothing’. In 2008, Chiraq said, “without Africa, France will slide down to the rank of a third world power.”
The major posers for the African Union(UN) and the international community are these: “Why are the docile colonies of yesterday suddenly revolting. What did they do to address the reign of impunity, that undermined the progress and growth of African nations, for several decades?” They looked away, while these anti-democratic elements frittered away the wealth of their people.
The current tumult is therefore quite pertinent. Clearly, these interventions have opened a new chapter in the annals of African history. Really, armed forces have no business in governance. History, repeatedly, shows that they perform badly in the long run, after the initial excitement. Yet, such unethical arrangements seem to be the most practical options to overturn the prevailing fraudulent political systems, where the ruling class continually underperforms and yet, perpetually clings to power. Unfortunately, they succeed in their exploitative tendencies, largely, with the support of benefitting foreign powers.
Another factor that is triggering this imbroglio is the malady of tenure elongation. It is time for political leaders to shun electoral malpractice and corruption. They must embrace true democracy and institutionalize people-oriented programs and policies. Societies, where people suffer from diseases, hunger, unemployment and poverty in the midst of abundant human and natural resources, will remain breeding grounds for conflicts, instabilities, restiveness and violence.
This wave of restlessness among the youth population reflects a biblical scripture, which says, “by your sword you shall live, And you shall serve your brother; And it shall come to pass, when you become restless, you shall break his yoke from your neck.”
The young generation of hurting, hungry, and angry Africans is not ready to tolerate perpetual servitude and one-sided colonial agreements that favour only a privileged few. Modern-day brazen syphoning of Africa’s natural resources, without commensurate rewards should stop! The current gale of military coups is a major wake-up call for all former colonial masters, notably Britain and France to end their slavish influences in Africa.
•Onyegbule is an ace publisher, a copywriter, copyeditor and poet, with several notable texts under his belt. He is a graduate of English and Literary Studies, University of Calabar, Nigeria (1991). Send feedback to him via: firstname.lastname@example.org