Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Goodluck Jonathan and other African leaders yesterday, condemned military incursion into governance in some African countries and called on the regional and continental bodies to rise up to the challenge in order to consolidate on democratic gains achieved by the continent in the past few years.
The leaders made the remarks at the opening session of a high-level dialogue, organised by the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa (CoDA) which was held in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital.
In his welcome address at the event, Obasanjo, who is the chairman of CoDA, condemned military takeover of democratically elected governments in some African countries, stressing that democracy in West Africa and indeed Africa required an urgent attention.
Speaking at the event where other African leaders had met to deliberate on how to strengthen democracy in West Africa, Obasanjo emphasized that only a peaceful democracy that has respect for the will of the people and the future of African nations remains the panacea for the continent’s growth and not the kind of governance influenced by the judiciary or grabbing the power through the use of guns.
The two-day event, themed: “West Africa: Rising to the Challenges of Consolidating Democratic Governance”, was held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library in Abeokuta. The event had in attendance, former Vice President of Gambia, Fatoumata Tambajanb, former President of Sierra Leone, Ernest Bai Koroma and Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, among others.
Why West Africa Has Had So Many Coups…
Emphasising that West Africa and indeed African continent are currently going through a perilous storm following political instability in some parts of the continent, the former president lamented that, coup d’etat, election fraud and political violence and instability have crippled the growth of Africa.
He however, maintained that the only way the African continent can develop is through peaceful democratic transition of governments.
“In recent years, we have witnessed a return of coup d’etat, election fraud and political violence resulting in instability and threatening the developmental gains we have made in the last couple of decades.
“I feel very sad and it gives me great concern when I see the democratic system, we have painfully built collapsing. And I believe there must be a solution because the problem is human and all human problems can be solved by human beings.
“That is why the Coalition for Dialogue on Africa under my chairmanship and the OOPL have brought all of us together today to discuss pertinent issues affecting governance in West Africa, including the challenges and then to seek the way forward.
“Achieving this may not be easy but it is a must if we want our nation to make progress, it must entail responsible management of diversity which makes everyone feel a sense of belonging and be a significant part of the whole
“Peaceful coexistence has been a hallmark of Africans even before the emergence of the colonial era and we cannot accept anything less in this modern age.
“We need a stable environment to grow our economies and ensure that countries develop in a sustainable way. Such an all-inclusive democratic environment will fast track developing our economy and will strengthen our security and promote general progress.”
In his keynote address, Vice President Osinbajo called on the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the African Union (AU) and other African organisations to rise up to the challenge and do more in ensuring political and economic stability of West Africa and Africa at large.
“This is a moment of peril for democracy in our region because we are navigating a perfect storm of adverse circumstances, a world economy that is reeling from recessional shocks of the COVID-19 pandemic, price and supply disruption from the war in Ukraine, the emergency of armed non state actors, poor challenges associated with catering for the youngest populations in the world.
“We must not allow our continent to become as it was in the cold war era. A fetter or proxy wars and great power conflict, we know from experience that this would result in a deepening or the recession of democratic values in Africa.
“The militarisation of civil society whether by local military regimes or rival foreign military industrial complexes can only set us back by several decades.
“Our commitment to democratisation must be predicated on the aspiration of our people and not from the whims of foreign powers.
“The recent spate of military coups across our continent and attempts at military coups not only potends the risk of a damaging democratic recession, but it also takes us back to the circles of extra constitutional disruptions that plagued us decades ago”.
“Since 2017, there have been 12 military coups in Africa and half of them occurred since 2020. Two months ago, the democratically elected government of Burkina Faso was overthrown while only in February there was an attempted coup in Guinea Bissau which was thankfully repealed.
“This much is clear, we know that we cannot secure the Africa that we want by turning back the hands of the democratic clock.”
We have walked this thorny road before, many decades worth of bitter experience and an impeachable lesson of our history, a clear lesson of our history is that despotisms cannot guarantee the security and prosperity of our people.
“No matter how dire our circumstances may be, we now have concrete proof that resorting to extra constitutional regimes is not the way forward,” Osinbajo said.