By Austen Akhagbeme:

There has been a growing concern recently in Africa about the return of the era of military coup d’etats as was witnessed in the late sixties and seventies.

The recent military overthrow of President Ali Bongo of the mineral-rich nation of Gabon following an earlier military ouster of President Bazoum of Niger has in no small measure, brought to the fore the issue of bad political leadership in Africa on one hand and the fierce elites’ power tussle on the other.

Not until the loaded gun visited the all-hegemonically powerful regime of President Ali Bongo, the ailing leader was ready to continue with his unconstitutionally imposed third tenure in office after ruling for fourteen long years.

From Guinea to Burkina Faso, from Mali to Niger, and now Gabon, it seems that the only nemesis to the issues of bad governance by the many self-acclaimed and widely-proclaimed Democratic governments seems to be the barrel of the gun. And I find this uncomfortably interesting.

One question that needs to be asked in the midst of all these is whether or not the re-emergence of military interregnum in democratic spaces has become the desired alternative to bad democratic governance especially when history tells us otherwise.

Again, could these incessant military coups not be regarded as a continuation of class struggle; the fight for supremacy by greedy ruling elites, this time, the civilians and their military counterparts?

Nigeria is a good example of how elite consensus has led to the cyclical game of musical chairs between the powerful military elite class and their civilian counterpart on one hand and the regrouping of the politico-military power elite blocs on the other.

These have led to the recycling of past top military brass to positions of political power as civilians and also top civilian elites being sponsored and supported by the retired military elites to hold political power in Nigeria.

Supporting the overthrow of a democratic government by a military junta is a hard nut to crack. Supporting a democratic despot while he runs riot and runs society on selfish grounds against the approval or acceptance of the majority public is a harder nut to crack.

Against this backdrop, the acceptance, legitimacy, and popularity of any regime must be determined by the pulse of the people and not necessarily by the status quo ante. This brings me to the conclusion that Africa must devise a homegrown system of government that takes from both divides to fit our peculiar reality. I call it Benevolent absolutism.

  • Austen Akhagbeme Is a Columnist with Blank NEWS Online
News Reporter
Blank NEWS Online founding Editor-in-Chief and Publisher, Albert Eruorhe Ograka, is a Graduate of Mass Communication. He also holds a Post Graduate Diploma (PGD) in Journalism from the International Institute of Journalism (IIJ).

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