A Nigerian group has said events in Niger and Gabon, where coups took place back to back, is a lesson for Nigeria’s politicians, enjoining them to learn, quickly put their acts together, as the situation in the country is tense and the signs omnous.
Recall that the Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) on Wednesday retired 12 generals and others, while Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya, hurriedly reshuffled his country’s Ministry of Defence, in moves interpreted to be reactions to recent military coups on the continent.
In a statement on Friday, the head of the national co-ordinating centre of the
United Action Front of Civil Society, Mr. Wale Okunniyi noted that though military coups are not a viable alternative to democracy, flawed elections and a compromised judiciary cannot be an acceptable standard to the citizens and civil society of any country.
A statement by the Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) said President Paul Kagame retired 83 military personnel including 12 generals. Others were however promoted to take up command positions.
Those retired included General James Kabarebe, the security adviser to President Paul Kagame; General Fred Ibingira, Lt. Gen Charles Kayonga, Lt Gen Frank Mushyo Kamanzi, Maj Gen Martin Nzaramba, Major General Eric Murokore, Major General Augustin Turagara, Major General Charles Karamba, Major General Albert Murasira, Brigadier General Chris Murari, Brigadier General Didace Ndahiro, Brigadier General Emmanuel Ndahiro.
Kagame has been in power for 23 years, while a 2015 amendment to the country’s constitution allows him to stay in power until 2034.
In Cameroon 90 years old President Biya, in power for 41 years, announced a reshuffling in the defence ministry.
The Nigerian group, in its statement, adds: “The recent coup in Gabon, coming after the recent military intervention in Niger Republic signposts a worrisome trajectory of uncertainties for the future of democracy in Africa and the likelihood of instability in Africa. It is regrettable that the emerging incidents of these military interventions all over enjoy popular acclamation from citizens, who should naturally be defending democracy. The situation in Gabon as well as Niger speaks to the frustration occasioned by flagrant manipulation of electoral process by the political class as well as the compromise of the judiciary. Democracy appears endangered in Africa, if military coups are perceived as alternative to reckless civil rule by the citizens,whose hope in the sanctity of the elections and the judiciary have been dashed.”
Notwithstanding, the United Action Front of Civil Society unequivocally wishes to emphasise that this unfortunate scenario underscores the depth of the failings of political actors, who stage civilian coups against democracy in their countries by undermining democratic institutions, manipulating the electoral process and arm-twisting the judicial system.
United Action Front of Civil Society can therefore not overemphasise that the antidote to military intervention in Africa is genuine commitment to the democratisation processes which entails unalloyed commitment to internal workings of institutions of democracy and more importantly the independence of the electoral umpires as well as the judiciary.
It is pertinent therefore to reiterate that those who undermine democratic process in Africa and abuse the oath of their offices are only unwittingly setting the stage for a repeat of military intervention. The United Action Front of Civil Society cautions that democratic institutions and particularly, the electoral body must be accorded freedom and independence to conduct free and fair elections without hindrances or undue pressure.
The United Action Front of Civil Society reiterates that a rigged election only provides a pathway to military coups such as the recent ones in Niger and Gabon and therefore demands greater responsibility and sincerity from electoral umpires and most especially the judiciary so as to safeguard democracy.
In conclusion, the United Action Front of Civil Society warns that failure by the Nigerian judiciary to satisfactorily address grievances arising from flawed electoral processes across the country maybe providing incentive for military forces, which will be a huge setback and disservice to Democracy and the civil society which are supposed to guarantee the peace and general well-being of the country.