Asantehene hits nail right on the head …coups should remind African leaders to manage their economies better
A coup d’etat or simply a coup is an illegal and overt attempt by the military or other government elites to unseat the incumbent leader by force while a self-coup is when a leader, having come to power through legal means tries to perpetuate himself or stay in power through illegal means.
Simply put, it is a sudden violent overthrow of an existing government by a small group.
Factors that necessitate such sudden take-overs either by military or civil society in a country include bad and poor leadership, economic hardships, lack of effective governance, bribery and corruption among leaders and other appointees, amassing wealth at the expense of the citizens, selfishness, nepotism, graft, dishonesty among other bad deeds by government in power.
In recent times, West Africa has been rocked by military uprisings. Within the past three years, soldiers have overthrown the presidents of Mali (August 2020 and May 2021), Guinea (September 2021) and Burkina Faso (January and September 2022).
That take-over in oil rich Gabon is the latest in a string of coups that have taken place in recent years. Before the Gabonese coup, Niger President Mohammed Bazoum who was elected two years ago in the first peaceful, democratic transfer of power since independence in 1960, was ousted on July 26, 2023 by his own presidential guard.
Currently Niger is facing severe sanctions from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for the refusal of the coup leaders to reinstate the ousted President Bazoum.
The ECOWAS block has imposed financial sanctions on the coup leaders and the country, freezing all commercial and financial transactions between member states and Niger, one of the world’s poorest Sahelian nations.
ASANTEHENE’S WISE COUNSELLING
I do not intend to delve deep into the various coups that have rocked the African continent within the past three years because that issue is already in the public domain since it has been fully publicised and exhausted by both the traditional and social media outlets.
My major concern is the powerful speech delivered by one of Ghana’s eminent traditional rulers, the Asantehene Osei Tutu II, King of the Ashanti Kingdom, who tried to dissect some of the reasons behind these military take-overs in Africa and professed solutions to these problems so as to restore sanity on the continent.
Speaking at the St Andrews Africa Summit in Scotland during his recent State visit to that country, the Ashanti monarch highlighted the increasing occurrence of coups across the African continent as a wake-up call for African leaders to effectively manage their economies better.
He noted that, better economic management could break the cycle of poverty and unemployment, providing hope for the youth to stay and contribute to the continent’s development instead of seeking opportunities abroad.
Hear the eminent Ashanti king who is noted for his frank and powerful speeches targeted at economic development, especially in his own country, Ghana; “We have to do better in managing our economies to break the cycle of poverty and unemployment and give hope to our able youth to remain and work for the continent instead of seeking the least opportunity to escape for greener pastures elsewhere”.
INCESSANT COUPS IN AFRICA
“No African leader can sleep happy so far as there is an African boy willing to make the perilous journey of modern- day migration,” he emphasised. Speaking at the backdrop of recent coups in several African countries including Gabon, Mali, Guinea, Chad and Niger and firmly condemning coups and rejecting them as viable solutions to Africa’s issues, the Asantehene urged African leaders to reflect on these events as indicators that something is amiss in the democratic experiment.
He said these events prompt a critical evaluation of the democratic structures and constitutional arrangements within African state, reinforcing the need for effective reforms and governance.
“I do not think it signals rejection of democracy as a system of governance but rather it brings into question the structures we have built in our democratic system, and that, I will suggest reinforces the questions we have been raising about the constitutional arrangement of the democratic state,” he said.
INTROSPECTION BY AFRICAN LEADERS
Indeed, the Asantehene OtumfuorOsei Tutu II, has hit the nail right on the head, and that should prick the conscience of leaders on the African continent to take introspection about how they are managing their respective countries devoid of economic hardships by their peoples, corruption, graft and other negative factors that are encouraging military take-overs in order to restore sanity and transparency in their jurisdictions.
It is a fact that when some of these leaders are seeking the mandates of the people to govern their countries, they will come ‘like a sheep in a wolf’s clothing’.
They behave like hypocrites who try to appear better than they are. After riding on the back of their people to the leadership positions, they then turn their backs on them and treat them likeanimals.
Nepotism and cronyism become their watchwords, trying to favor relatives, friends or associates, especially giving them j obs and other financial favors. These are some of the challenges among African leaders that often open the doors for military take-overs.
FERTILE GROUND FOR COUPS
The advice given by the Ashanti King to African leaders is indeed, timely because the continent has recently become a fertile ground for coups. The rapid manner in which these coups are happening, suggests that the leaders must sit up because their peoples are just tired of misrule.
This is a wakeup call for us in Ghana and our leaders must be seen to be righting the wrongs because those factors that normally encourage uprising are starring us in the face.
The corruption, economic hardships, nepotism, cronyism, graft, selfishness among other negative factors, are deeply rooted and entrenched in our society. We always say that Ghana is a peaceful country and that nothing untoward will happen to this country.
Yes, we do not want any uprising in this country since it is inimical to our progress. That is why our leaders must work tirelessly and assiduously to meet the people’s expectations in order to entrench the democratic principles in our country.
A WORD TO OUR TRADITIONAL LEADERS
The Asantehene has laid bare the negative factors that bring about coups in Africa and that should serve as an eye-opener to all leaders on the continent.
If other traditional leaders in Ghana should emulate this shining example by the Asantehene and be frank to speak their minds on issues on the global front and our local setting that will inure to Ghana’s development and progress, it will not be long to see our dear country treading the path of progress and success.
They have a wealth of knowledge and wisdom that can transform our dear nation. Coup is not the best option to adopt and follow in Africa because it can only lead to economic destruction and retard progress and therefore, our leaders must take note of that and put in place the best practices of governance to carry their peoples along.
African leaders need to sit up and do the needful and not to expose themselves to the international community for mockery.
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By Charles Neequaye