Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lessons From The Coup in Niger republic

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Niger republic is one of the landlocked countries in West Africa. It is located on the Northern border of Nigeria, and it’s a member state of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Niger has enjoyed democracy for sometime now until the incumbent president Mamadou Tandja was forcefully removed from office through a military coup d’etat. Tandja has ruled the country for two consecutive tenures and instead of stepping down at the end of his second tenure he decided to alter the country’s constitution to pave way for his third tenure bid. This drew condemnation from everyone, including the ECOWAS and the African Union, but typical of most African leaders Mamadou Tandja cared less about the consequences of his action and refused to shift grounds. ECOWAS reacted swiftly by suspending Niger from her fold.

Tandja rode on, crushing all oppositions and protesters who dared raise their voices against his illegal constitutional alteration. He held tenaciously unto the reins of power. He had managed the economy of the landlocked country without accountability. Niger happens to be one of the few countries in the world that are endowed with Uranium, a mineral useful for nuclear fuel/nuclear weapons. The mining of this natural endowment has not reflected positively on the lives of the citizenry.

However, the military junta struck, ceased power and took Mamadou Tandja hostage. Surprisingly, the people we thought should condemn the coup d’etat rose up in its support. Why did they do so? They felt it was better for the military to come and salvage the situation than for President Tandja to set a bad precedent for their nascent democracy.

Few days before the coup the ECOWAS newly elected chairman, the acting president of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan had declared that ECOWAS would have zero tolerance for coup in the Sub-region. Now that the ‘Khaki boys’ have taken over power in Niger will ECOWAS live to its threat or will it be forced to eat its words? How do they intend to rescue the democratic structures in that country? It looks like they may be compelled to tolerate the military junta and negotiate with them to conduct a credible election as soon as possible.

This situation would have been averted were it not for the greedinesss of the president. African leaders should learn to be up and doing so that the political instability and incessant coups in the continent would be a thing of the past, especially now that military regime is no longer a fashion in other parts of the world.

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