Africa may have made gains in consolidating democratic governance but the re-emergence of coup d’état as a result of poor governance, threatens to erode the gains.
It is becoming clear that the period in the 1980- 1990s where coup d’état in Africa occurred rampantly is resurfacing as a result of the failure of democratically elected leaders’ inability to govern properly to meet democratic principles.
Democratic governments are expected to respect the rights of citizens, promote citizens involvement in decision making and pursuing good governance interventions that reflect the will of the people.
However, it is becoming obvious that the leaders, who have been elected to govern, do not practically understand how to govern in order to respect the fundamental rights of the people, render accountability in governance, ensure transparency, and manage the socio-economic wellbeing of the people effectively.
Sadly, the democratic elected leaders in Africa are regularly abusing democratic beliefs and principles as many of them engage in altering constitutions in whimsical and capricious manner, manipulation of elections, manipulation of the judiciary, and manipulation of the security institutions to maintain power to satisfy their parochial interests.
Importantly and unfortunately for them, ordinary citizens have become aware of the abundant tricks of the political elites in government. To the effect that presidents and government officials continue to involve themselves in acts of corruption, mismanagement of the economy, rendering citizens in abject poverty, constitute a poor expression in good governance.
This is the result of the re-emergence of coup d’état in West Africa.
The recent coup d’état in Guinea and Mali, Chad and the attempt in Niger were all as a result of attempts by leaders to alter the constitutions to extend their stay in power.
It is certainly not a good trend. If leaders in West Africa do not stop forcing themselves on the people by altering constitutions, manipulating and rigging elections, then ECOWAS cannot sustain democracy but will continue to experience periodic coup d’état and disruption in democratic governance.
ECOWAS needs to face this sad truth and take actions that disallow leaders from altering constitutions to extend their stay in power.
Such alterations should be considered as a constitutional violation, and leaders who engage in that should be treated the same way as coup leaders.
At least this will be a good first step in saving West Africa from more military takeovers, and for ECOWAS to gain the confidence of the citizenry.
In addition, we call on governments in Africa consciously address persistent problems such as unemployment, poverty, income inequalities, and economic deprivation which bread citizens agitation and anarchy.