WHY ECOWAS MUST REINSTATE KABORE

0

Coupists are no better than armed robbers who take what does not belong to them by force of arms, writes Soyombo Opeyemi

By now, ambitious officers in command positions within the African armed forces must be developing some brainwave: If I can collect a band of power-thirsty elements among the officers and time a mutiny or take-over at the height of any public discontent with an elected government such as it happened in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso or stealthily instigate, sponsor or orchestrate civil unrest in order to discredit a forward-looking government like the army did in Sudan, then the operation is likely to succeed!

I will ensure the officials of the sacked civilian government – the head of state and ministers – are safe so as not to incur the immediate military wrath of fellow heads of state. I will promise to restore constitutional order within a year or two; will appoint a civilian-dominated cabinet in order to give a semblance of commitment to democratic restoration. Sure, I will not develop any headache with regard to statements of condemnation of the coup by the international community – they bark but do not bite and fizzle out with time! While the attention of foreign nations are absorbed by domestic troubles and other matters of international significance, I will begin to dig in, entrench myself in government by shifting the goal-posts of the transition programme and in the end, transmogrify from the military to civilian president through manipulated elections!

Yes, we can see through such shenanigans and will scupper it. We will not succumb to coup terrorism by some deranged elements from the barracks. We will not live at the mercy of the guns. The Economic Community of West African States must restore President Roch Marc Kabore to power with deliberate speed. There must be a reversion to status quo ante in the political governance of Burkina Faso. Those terrorists in uniform – putatively led by one Lt. Col. Sandaogo Damiba – occupying government buildings and pretending to be the new government in power must lay down their arms or be dislodged by ECOWAS forces.

This is not the time to shed crocodile tears. We all saw it coming. This writer predicted more coups in Africa once the regional bloc did not heed his call to flush out the gangsters in Mali and later the bandits in Guinea, who remain in power till date. The time for platitudinous coup condemnation statements is over. It is time to employ maximum force to flush out the renegade boys who are abusing the power of the guns provided them by tax-payers. Roch Kabore won a popular re-election in 2020 and must be returned to power by the armed forces of the regional bloc.

To seek to interrogate the raison d’être for the coup in Burkina Faso is to advance the devil own game. It is an unwarranted attempt to exaggerate the role of the military in a political community. The military is not an alternative government; it is not government-in-waiting. A country trains doctors to keep her citizens in good health. She trains teachers to educate her citizens. She trains soldiers to keep her people and territory secure from external aggression. The military cannot claim to be more important than teachers. Neither can doctors claim superiority over the police. Why did the teachers not overthrow an elected government on account of insecurity? Why did the medical personnel not take over the reins of government because of a political crisis? Why is it only the military that believes it must intervene during any crisis?

The teachers are carrying out their lawful duties in the classrooms, the doctors and nurses are fulfilling their constitutional mandates in the hospitals, the farmers in the farms; so should members of the armed forces fulfil their lawful duties of defending the citizens and the country against external aggression. Let everyone and every institution fulfil their constitutional mandates. If one party in power is not doing well, then let another political party replace it at the next elections.

The army putsch in Burkina Faso is another slap in the face for Africa, ECOWAS, Ghana, Nigeria – the most powerful in the sub region and President Muhammadu Buhari – the leader of the largest democracy in West Africa. Buhari must not allow the coup to stand. President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, the Chair of ECOWAS, must as a matter of emergency mobilize member states to crush the coup.

By now, some 5,000 Nigerian Special Forces should be heading towards northern Republic of Benin, supported by a few hundreds of soldiers from Niger Republic to occupy the eastern flank of Burkina Faso. Led by a thousand or two elite troops from Ghana, supported by a few hundreds from neighbouring Togo, Benin and possibly Cote D’Ivoire to completely hem in Burkina Faso from the south, those bandits in uniform in government offices in Ouagadougou should return to their various barracks within 24 hours or be flushed out by ECOWAS within days. Other ECOWAS member nations should contribute to the Mission both in cash and kind. President Kabore should be back in power within days!

Amnesia is a disease in Africa. We cannot afford to fritter away the gains of democracy in the last three decades. Readers are implored to peruse some interventions of this author against a recrudescence of coups in Africa: Nigeria and Mali at 60: Reflections on lust for power; Guinea: Buhari should arrest ‘Malady’ Doumbouya; Buhari: Still on the coup in Guinea; Coup cancer: Should African citizens bear arms?

Once again – and for the umpteenth time – soldiers do not seize power on behalf of the masses. Those youths that pour into the streets to celebrate coup d’états are simply ignorant. The military usually cashes in on the frustration of the public to stage a coup in order to satisfy the lust of its officers for power and self-aggrandizement. Hence one army coup usually leads to another. Every coup-maker excoriated the previous government in order to gain legitimacy. No sooner had it settled down than it did worse than the regime it toppled. After seizing power at gun-point, they exacerbate political, socio-economic and security situation inherited.

Besides the horrendous repression and abridgment of citizens’ rights, military rule is not kind to itself either. It destroys the lives of many of its finest officers, shatters discipline, command structure and esprit de corps. Since a military regime is patently illegal, it is always unstable, living in perpetual fear of coups from within its own ranks. The political instability orchestrated by martial rule drives away investors and compounds the economic woes of compatriots.

These power-thirsty officers are mere cowards, who find it easier to stage a coup against unarmed civilian leaders than fight their equals on war-fronts. They crave the allure of political power but are not prepared to pay the huge price of electioneering and political horse-trading. They want to loot public treasury by shooting their way to political power. They are no better than armed robbers, who take what does not belong to them by force of arms!

Even in Europe and North America, popularly elected governments occasionally are up against public discontent. Except in very rare instances where the power of initiative and recall are exercised, the electorate know they have to wait till the next general election before they can effect a change of government. As it happened in Honduras in 2009, it is the constitutional and patriotic duty of the military and all state institutions to disobey any unlawful orders of the head of state (to manipulate the electoral process). You do not build a nation by plotting coups.

Soyombo, media practitioner and public affairs analyst, sent this contribution from Abeokuta via densityshow@yahoo.com