Heads of state and putschists

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From the podium of the UN General Assembly, President MuhammaduBuhari of Nigeria said at the end of last week [vendredi 24septembre], that the democratic gains of recent decades in West Africa gradually crumbled, with the return of the coups, some of which were motivated by unilateral constitutional changes, initiated to remove the restriction of mandate. Is not this sincere speech admirable?

Admirable, perhaps. But in the continuation of this little paragraph in his speech, the admirable and the deplorable are somewhat entangled. West Africa, with one small exception, was until recently almost pleasant to see, in contrast to the disturbing picture presented by Central Africa, where five heads of state in total, before Marshal Déby’s death, were in power for more than two hundred years.

President Buhari’s observations are correct: between the dubious manipulations of the constitutions, the tendency of some politicians to take to the streets to take the short step towards a power they are fighting to conquer at the ballot box, all the ingredients are there to make the fertile ground for rulers who, without revelry, devoted themselves attentively to the exaggeration of the privileged persons of power.

Could these warning signs have escaped President Buhari? As the most serious of his comrades knew and could act, intervene to prevent these predictable putts. And everyone will invoke the sovereignty of the states, to justify letting that happen. But what sovereignty is it when the failures of these states across all parts of their borders leave the field open for the jihadists, sometimes over a thousand kilometers, to strike, whenever they want, at the neighbor? It’s about responsibility here. It is no use going to the UN to speak the language of truth, unless one has been able to warn an opponent who has gone astray. Alpha Condé should be mad at them for letting it sink in!

And when President Buhari confirms Nigeria’s support for the decisions taken by ECOWAS and the African Union against the coup plotters, one wonders what the consequences of these decisions can be ignored by the coup plotters.

What is most worrying is that this shaky leadership is the same as the first African power, which dreams of occupying the UN Security Council, a possible permanent place for Africa.

However, Nigeria has taken its leadership well before … Yes! But the leadership of a nation is not stoned forever. Nigeria has lost much of its influence in recent years, long before President Buhari came to power. We must start rebuilding and not give the impression of dealing only with current affairs, but some initiative of the level, dare, of what made it possible in 1975 to create ECOWAS.

What is missing, for effective leadership in West Africa? First, great leaders, in line with the real ambitions of their people. We need a critical mass of states and leaders who are credible, serious, firm enough, to deter putschist tendencies in armed men who feel free enough to overthrow elected heads of state, under the pretext of sometimes as much as their own.

It is time to address both the causes and the consequences. Can not stand the changes of the convenience of a constitution to grant a third term, come and condemn a coup that would result from it. It is a question of credibility, towards the citizens who suffer from leaders who are sometimes unworthy and arrogant.

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