At Crossroads

By Lateef Adegbite

The Leadership of the Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, an economic bloc in the African Continent appears to be at crossroads over the gale of military coups in the region. As the newly elected Chairman of the regional body last July, President Bola Tinubu of Nigeria and the latest entrant to the exclusive club of the ECOWAS Heads of States and Government who had replaced   Umaro Sssoco Emalo of Guinea-Bissau, the immediate past Chairman may have hit the ground by promising ‘’to stand firm in the defence of democracy’’, described as the best form of government, although it was difficult to manage.

The Nigerian President may have gladdened the heart of the other Leaders in the exclusive club of the ECOWAS Heads of States and Government when he declared: We will not accept   coup after coup in West Africa again. He may have alluded to the military takeovers in Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea and even the failed coup attempts in Guinea Bissau and the Island of Sao Tome and Principe.

The Nigerian born ECOWAS Chairman may have made his Counterparts in the exclusive club to have at the back of their mind that they have all campaigned to be elected Leaders and therefore will not tolerate any other Leader or Leaders who may have come to power through the barrel of the gun.   Talking Tough, he had declared: We didn’t give our soldiers resources, invest them and in their boots, including taking them to overseas training to violate the freedom of the people.

He had said that for the soldiers ‘’to turn their guns against civil authorities is a violation of the principles pon which they were hired, which is to defend sovereignty of the nations’’. We must not sit in ECOWAS as toothless bulldogs, he was said to have warned.  But that was how far he could go.

 Indeed, he may not have read the handwriting on the wall that following the military coups in Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea, the foiled coups in the Island Sao Tome and Principe and Guinea Bissau, the home country of President Emalo,  and former  Chairman of the ECOWAS, was who was  said  to be cautious in his statements to avoid stepping on powerful  toes that may encourage coups in other countries enjoying democratic rule.

The coup in Niger Republic in the neighbouring West African Country of to Nigeria, barely  16, days after Tinubu , had assumed office as the new  ECOWAS Chairman, by General Abdorahmane Tchiani,   and his fellow coup plotters may have informed why the new ECOWAS Chairman, who could not hide his feelings had described the coup   as ‘’ an unpleasant developments ‘’, noting that the  regional bloc and  other world Leaders   will  not  tolerate  any situation  that incapacitates  the democratically -elected government of the country.

Bazoum: Ousted Former President Of Niger Republic

The Nigerian President, was said to have done everything within his powers to arm-twist the Niger military junta to restore power to the   ousted democratically elected President Bazoum , who in the past years had enjoyed the support and benevolence of former President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria , but the junta may have rebuffed economic bloc Leaders. The Niger new government alibi that it had drawn up a transition programme ,that will be fully executed in the next three years may  have been outright rejected by the Tinubu led ECOWAS.

In spite of the fact the ECOWAS Authority Of Heads of States and Government had rejected outright the transition programme, insisting that Niger junta must go for peace to reign but the situation in the country remains a ding dung affair.

While the political crisis in the West African country of Niger Republic, is yet to be settled, 48 year-old Gen. Brice OOligui Nguema,who was once a  body guard of late President Omar Bongo and who was said to have spent 10 years abroad  after being dismissed  from the inner cycle  of the Bongo’s family and  had had mobilised the military in Gabon, another West African country,  to bring to an end the powerful political dynasty in the Central African country.

Ali Bongo Ondimba: Toppled Gabon Former President

Informed sources told The Value News that upon his return, he quietly rose to the country’s army highest rank of General and dedicated his last days in the service ‘’to maintaining Ali Bongo’s regime with the last drop of his blood’’. This may have drawn Ali Bongo, the Gabonese President to the army General. He got it wrong as he came to realise later after he has been removed from office he was with an ambitious who has ambition to rule the country.  

Gen.Nguema, and his fellow coup plotters may have taken advantage of the August 26, 2023, general elections in the country where the incumbent President, Ali Bongo Ondimba, who incidentally was the son of late President Omar Bongo, accused by the opposition of perpetuating election fraud had been declared re-elected by Gabon’s Election Authority.

The Gabonese army under the aegis of the Committee for the Transition and Restoration of Institutions which had kicked out the Bongo dynasty in a statement released after the unseating the former President had highlighted‘’serious institutional, political, economic and social  crisis’’ as factors responsible for the coup in the West African country.

Gen. Brice Nguema: Gabon New Military Leader

The coup plotters were said to have also disclosed that the government’’ irresponsibility and unpredictable governance, which was said to be pushing the country into state of chaos was said to have encouraged the army to step in to stop the country from degenerating into war.

The Junta had said that the organisation of the August 26, 2023 general election, which had come a month after the coup in Niger Republic, did not ‘’meet the conditions for a transparent, credible and inclusive ballot elections hoped so much by people of the country’’.

 The cancellation of the general election results and dissolution of numerous government agencies, including the government at the national and reginal levels, the Senate, the National Assembly, the Constitutional Court,  the Economic , Social and Environment Council and the Gabonese Election Centre, speaks volume.

Although the world Leaders had condemned the Gabon coup, and the Peace and Security Council, of the African Union,AU, suspending the West African country, which had  joined about five other countries already suspended, the people appears to have thrown their weight behind the coup plotters, accusing the Bongo  family  of getting rich  on the country’s resources, including oil   while  many of its citizens  still struggle to feed on a daily basis.

Notwithstanding  the popularity currently being enjoyed by the Gabonese junta which had launched ‘’the Clean Hands Operation’’, the  NorthAmerican country of the United US,  anti-corruption organisation, Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project , OCCRP,  had alleged that  Gen. Nguema and the Bongo’s family had spent over  $1.4 million to purchase three expensive properties  in the US.

But the Gabon army General, who appears to be in the good book of the people will not take it, noting that whether the properties are purchased in France, the former colonial power or in  the US, ‘’ a private life   should be respected’’.

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