At a reception he hosted in Takoradi over the weekend for the local press, the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, among other remarks, urged Ghanaians to take critical cue from political situations across the West Africa sub-region and protect their democratic rights and principles.
Mr Bagbin is apparently expressing worry about coups d’état that have erupted in the sub-region, with the latest in Niger.
His remark is akin to the one made by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo immediately after the July 26, 2023 military takeover in Niger when he asked West Africans to reject all forms of military takeovers within the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) jurisdiction.
To emphasise his stance, the President said the unconstitutional way of changing governments across the sub-region should not be tolerated and that insecurity in West Africa must come to an end to help drive the needed development.
President Akufo-Addo’s point on democracy and development is captured in a point Mr Bagbin made to the effect that democracy has brought peace, security and development to countries that have adopted it “because that is the only system that ensures sustainable and inclusive governance.”
Honestly, it is often difficult to decipher the intentions of politicians when they make certain remarks or give certain admonitions without mentioning what steps to take to actualise them.
How do Ghanaians in general protect their democratic rights and principles and how do West Africans reject all forms of military takeovers within the ECOWAS jurisdiction?
Are they to take to demonstrations or what?
No doubt, coups are not good and so in this era of globalisation where political leaders are making the efforts to ensure the development of their countries with democratic governance as the tool, coups must be things of the past.
However, those condemning the recent military take-overs in the sub-region must pause and ask the question, “Why are coups failing to die in the West African sub-region?”
It appears Mr Bagbin has given a clue to answer that question by his remark that democracy has not yet sunk into the people and not the practitioners (politicians) either.
He explains that both parties do not understand, appreciate or recognize democracy and so cannot position the democratic institution well, hence “we have seen what is happening around us as a country. We need to take this seriously.”
Being specific with Ghana, Mr Bagbin said Ghana adopted the multi-party democracy and the trend appears that the people are losing faith and trust in political parties (politicians).
This is an honest and unbiased point by Mr Bagbin, an astute politician, and must be taken seriously not only by West African leaders but also all other African leaders.
Coups are mainly caused by poor governance that show itself in insecurity and all manner of corrupt practices by elected leaders and other state officials; and their proclivity for opulence, nepotism, cronyism, arrogance and other negative traits.
In fact, some political observers say until these leaders outlive such traits, future coups are not inevitable and democratic progress will hardly be possible in West Africa.
This is the matter that must be tackled by all those doing the condemnations rather than pour in vituperation that effects no change.
African leaders therefore must do better to prove that they are working for the masses and not for their parochial interests.
They should, for instance, chastise their peers for their wrongdoings to preempt coups and sustain democracy rather than using force to reinstate ousted leaders such as the case being envisaged in Niger.