Democratically elected leaders on African continent have been advised to abide by democratic tenets to avert more military coups on the continent.
Barr CD Ogbeh stated this on Thursday during a programme monitored by our correspondent in Enugu. Although he condemned military incursions in politics, Ogbeh said democracy should be made functional in Africa to avoid more military coups.
According to him, “Blame our democratic governments in Africa for what is happening today. Elections should be free and fair. When otherwise becomes the case, it is an invitation to anarchy. But I am not making a case for military regimes in Africa. After all, Nigeria’s current problems were created by the military. The Abacha loot is because Abacha is dead, but we have many Abacha loots moving freely because the perpetrators are still alive?
“Civilians are even looting more. But the military can help to protect our democracies. They can ensure that elections are free and fair. They can protect civilians who are exercising their displeasure over bad governance during protests instead of using bullets against them. The role of the military is to protect nations’ territories.”
Ogbe was reacting to the imbroglio in Niger where a democratically elected leadership of President Mohamed Bazoum was overthrown on July 26. The coup leaders had accused the government of failing to meet the people’s expectations for delivering dividends of democracy.
The coups in the Sahel region, comprising Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria, started in Mali in August 2020 when the democratically elected President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta was toppled by soldiers led by Col. Assimi Goita.
Burkina Faso experienced its second coup in 2022 with soldiers ousting Lt. Col. Paul Henri Sandaogo Damiba about eight months after he helped overthrow the democratically elected President Roch Marc Kaboré early in the year.
Capt. Ibrahim Traore was named as the transitional president while a national assembly that included army officers, civil society organizations, and traditional and religious leaders approved a new charter for the West African country.
Sudan was also hijacked by the military in October 2021 when soldiers dissolved the transitional government of Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok as well as the Sovereign Council.
That took place weeks before the military was to hand the leadership of the council to civilians and nearly two years after soldiers overthrew the longtime autocrat Omar al-Bashir amid deadly protests.
Chad is also under military rule since April 2021 when President Idriss Deby, who ruled Chad for more than 30 years, was killed while battling against rebels in the hard-hit northern region.
His son, Gen. Mahamat Idriss Deby, took power contrary to constitutional provisions and was named the interim head of state with an 18-month transitional process set in place for the country’s return to democracy.
By the end of the 18 months period, the government extended Deby’s by two more years, triggering protests that the military suppressed.