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African coups: West only interested in resource control — Experts – Tribune Online

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A group of eminent experts has come down very hard on France and the rest of the West concerning the implicit roles been played in the wave of recent coups in some of African countries, just as these foremost experts have concluded that the West is only interested in the control of the affected African countries’ resources.
Professor Toyin Falola who led the interrogation of the current wave of coups in Africa was assisted in doing this by other prominent experts such as Colonel Festus Aboagye who is a retired analyst and a consultant on UN/AU Joint Planning for AU Peace Support Operations; Dr. Mary Owusu, a historian of ancient and modern Africa with her research interests spreading to areas such as African intellectual, political, and development histories; Dr. Vladimir Antwi-Danso with specialties in International Security, Geo-politics, and Regional Economic Cooperation and Integration; Dr. Biodun J. Ogundayo who is a professor of French and Comparative Literature at the Bradford Campus of the University of Pittsburgh, PA, and the director of the Africana Studies program; and His Royal Majesty, King Fuankem Achankeng, a conflict scientist. 
The interactive session which was streamed live on Sunday and on various media platforms had in attendance dignitaries in various fields spread across Africa and beyond. The Toyin Falola Interview Series has remained the foremost platform on the African continent which deals with transnational debates on pressing African issues. The series has had very topnotch leaders and experts providing very profound insights and practical solutions to persistent problems plaguing the continent.   
While interrogating the Niger crisis, Ogundayo fingered France and the rest of the West: “There is the utter lack of respect for the humanity of black people. France is replicating in Africa what it did in Haiti. France is talking about the universal rights of mankind; it promotes itself as a very diplomatic nature and culture and yet it has total disregard for some of the stipulations of the Vietnam Conventions. The theme of West Africa and resource control is reflected, for example, whenever there is an election in Nigeria, our politicians have to go to Chatham House to seek approval on how we intend to run our African countries. About last year, the president of the United States called a meeting of African leaders in Washington. There is the issue of Africa’s resource country at the bottom of all these. I don’t think the West, especially France, really care about the economic and social conditions in which Africans live daily. Haiti was the crown jewel of France’s colonial empire. It garnered for France at least 20 per cent of its GDP when sugar was king and we know what France did in Haiti. We constantly need to awaken or reiterate the historical connection that what is happening today is not a coincidence. It is just a lot easier to expose the hypocrisy of the French credo of liberty and egalitarianism.”
Sharing the same bend, King Achankeng opined that the West has only continued to prioritise its needs over Africa’s aspirations. According to him, “Why would the coup come to anyone as a surprise? Who is aware of the leadership question on the continent? Why would the coups come as a surprise when we are aware of the living conditions of people on the continent six decades and counting after independence? Why would the coups come as a surprise when political power is monopolized by the ethnic origins of leaders? There absolutely ought to be no surprise when we consider the kind of leadership in Africa and what African people go through. What may be surprising were the reactions of the West and the initial reactions from ECOWAS, calling for war, supposedly to restore the democratic process in Niger. Not surprised from the West just being true to themselves. It is very surprising though was the reaction from ECOWAS. The West continues to prioritize their own needs over the aspirations of Africa. But ECOWAS called for the restoration of democratic process without looking at their own practices in the mirror. What has been most surprising is what this people have done or thought of doing when they ought to be thinking of their own practices especially in the different countries in the West African region.”
In her assessment of a larger international conspiracy in the growing wave of coups in Africa, Owusu contended that “In the 60s, after the euphoria of nationalism, we had political entrenchments by the fathers of independence. By their entrenchments, we led ourselves to coups. At the 1990s, we started with the euphoria again of democracy. But today, we are having coups. Just like we did in the 50s and 60s, we are identifying international machinations. We are talking about France all the more because the French-speaking African countries are involved in the latest democratic overthrows. We are seeing at a front political dividend in terms of democracy, and on the other hand, Africans are not feeling the economic dividend of this democracy. Therefore, there is widespread unhappiness among the ordinary people which can be said for all of these areas we have talked about. What is new here is that we have different actors and a different timeframe. Revisiting the past is one of the ways we can move forward. Coalitions disintegrate when the common enemy is gone. If it is really France, are we sure that when France goes, the people will feel the economic dividends? No. In Ghana, we have had several coups; we got rid of many leaders. But do we feel the economic dividends?”
While tracing the trajectory of coups in Africa, Aboagye provided the audience with a rich background to the current crises. “The current wave in my reckoning is the third wave. Between the first and second, and third, there were episodes decline in the spate of coups. But as we turned the centuries, there was post-cold war. We decided to establish some laws in order to go a new path in post democratization. There was the African Uniion’s 2000 Lome Declaration; ECOWAS’s Supplementary Protocol on Democracy and Good Governance. This emphasized that the only pathway to political power shall be through elections which must be free, fair and transparent. Despite all of these interventions, we still continue to have both military and civilian unconstitutionalities. It tends to appear that there was resurgence. These have implications for African governance architecture as well as the security peace architecture. Indeed, this discourse is as a result of this spate. 
“Among the schools of thought which believe that the discourse must start from the civilian leaders who employ undemocratic strategies including re-engineering constitutions to remove term and age limits basically to entrench themselves in power, there are the classical cases of Rwanda 2015, Burundi 2015, Congo 2015, Uganda 2017, Zimbabwe in 2017. From my estimates, in West Africa, we have had 11 such civilian unconstitutional attempts. Since 2003, there have been such in seven countries: Burkina Faso, two years, 2005 and 2014; Togo, 2005, 2015; Benin 2016, 2019; Guinea, 2020; Senegal, 2023; The Gambia, 2021. Indeed Gambia also has an episode this year. Such leaders have also employed very disturbingly systems of constitutional tyranny accompanied by violence, imprisonment, killings and exiling of political party oppositions especially. This is simply to meet their parochial interests. 
“On the other side of the equation, since 2000, Africa has also witnessed some 25 successful coups in 14 countries: Burkina Faso, four episodes; Central African Republic, three episodes; Chad, one episode; Gabon 2023; Guinea, three episodes; Guinea Bissau, one; Mali, Niger, two episodes; Egypt, one episode; Madagascar, one; Mauritania, two episodes; Sudan, two episodes; Togo and the intriguing one by Zimbabwe. Let me remind us that my timeline is post cold war 2000, not the recent reckonings of 2020. Yet ten West African states have experienced about 17 coup attempts besides significant crises in Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Togo, Gambia, Guinea and Senegal.”
Antwi-Danso, however, gave a cautionary intervention when he argued that local political leaders should primarily be held responsible for failure of governance and the resultant uprising represented by the coups. “If you watch out, you will find out that generals are the ones carrying out the coups. The justification is clear. The state is stagnating. It is declining. Such coups are a response to the decline of the nations. If we don’t want unconstitutional change of government, then it must start with ourselves. What is the ECOWAS, AU or EU worried about? When the constitution was manipulated, what did we say? If we don’t take care, there are several other countries which are candidates for coups especially where there is stagnation, decay and decline. We must watch out. The current coups cannot be stopped just by merely wishing them away or threatening to use force,” he said. 
The interview was streamed across Youtube, Facebook, Telegram, and Zoom, and had over 2 million members of the audience. Members of the audience who gave their interventions were D.S. Kahyana, Edmund Abaka, Mohammed Hadi, Owusu Ansah, Chiedo Nwankwor, Adewale Sobowale, Bunmi Fatoye-Matory, Dawood Hamzah, Charles Prempeh, Bayode Omoyeni, and Mohammed Tal.


© 2023 Tribune Online – an online publication of African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc. All rights reserved
© 2023 Tribune Online – an online publication of African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc. All rights reserved
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