Yar’adua: We Thank God

It is becoming evident that not just Nigeria but the whole West African region would have been plunged into crisis had Nigeria not been able to address its 78 days leadership vacuum through its democratic institutions and at the time it did so. As we write, the democratic regime in Niger Republic has been overthrown by soldiers who although supported by those who opposed the amendment of the Constitution to allow Mamadou Tandja a third term as President, nevertheless a coup constitutes an illegal act. 

Ivory Coast is accelerating towards a war that is likely to once more split the country in two as President Laurent Gbagbo has sacked the government of Prime Minister Soro and disbanded the Electoral Commission effectively ensuring that elections cannot hold as planned in March 2010. 

These elections have been delayed since 2005 and were part of settlement terms reached after civil war broke out in 2002 and 2003 that effectively split Ivory Coast between North and South along ethnic lines. 

Togo has general elections also planned for March 2010 and the drum beats of war are also sounding as the government mobilizes 12,000 armed soldiers from the barracks to keep the opposition in check during the elections. 

The slogan of the Citizens Movement for Change who have also mobilized the youths across Togo to ensure that they win the elections is “change or death, we shall win”, and with the government giving instructions to the soldiers to maintain peace at all cost that country is hanging on a knife edge. 

Guinea is still hanging precariously with a military cum civilian government arrangement following the decision of the head of the military government, Captain Camara, to go on voluntary exile and allow for the conduct of elections. 

Following agitations and demonstrations for return to democratic rule in Guinea armed soldiers had opened fire on unarmed demonstrators killing hundreds of them and in an effort to cover up for his actions, an assassination attempt was made on Captain Camara. 

Although an opposition candidate is now Prime Minister in Guinea, getting the country off on the democratic track in a process to be midwife by the military is fraught with challenges and uncertainties as the military have a poor track record in facilitating democratic rule. 

Liberia will be going to the polls to elect a new president and members of parliament either in 2010 or 2011, and having come out of a long civil war that nearly destroyed the country, stabilizing the democratic process is important to the continued progress of that country. 

Equatorial Guinea survived a coup scare some years back and even Sierra Leone and Ghana which seem to have democratic processes stabilized still need to have a stable West African region as ethnic tensions are always simmering close to the surface. 

This is the context within which Nigeria’s leadership vacuum and the leadership vacuum in the Economic Community of West African States was raging, as Umaru Yar’Adua also doubled as ECOWAS Chairman, the 15 nation’s organization overseeing the economic and political development of the region. 

Twice, ECOWAS had to postpone the meeting of its heads of government following the persistent ill health and absence of its then chairman, Umaru Yar’Adua, the Nigerian President, and this affected the ability of the organization to address the looming crisis in the region. 

When the Nigeria leadership vacuum crisis was raging no member state of ECOWAS was bold enough to intervene or even offer a word of advice on how to resolve a crisis involving a key member of the region with more population and wealth than all the other 14 member states put together. 

Had Nigeria degenerated into a crisis either due to military intervention or inability of the political class to amicably resolve the leadership vacuum, most  of the nations mentioned above would have imploded plunging  the region into disorder. 

With Nigeria succumbing to negative issues such as ethnic and religious fighting, undemocratic rule, hijack of government, massive corruption, etc evil people in surrounding nations such as Ivory Coast, Guinea, Togo, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea and Niger would have gone berserk. 

These nations would have had every justification to become failed states and with the new multilateral policy of the United States Government, the possibility of sending peace keeping missions to failing or failed West African nations would have been the last option to address any descent into anarchy. 

Fortunately God intervened in Nigeria and in what has now been described as an unprecedented act, the National Assembly passed resolutions declaring Jonathan Goodluck as Acting President of Nigeria, and since that declaration events have taken a dramatic turn for good in Nigeria and West Africa. 

There has been a dramatic reduction in tensions across Nigeria with the Federal Government once more taking up the challenge to address the many challenges that confront the people while working to ensure that General Elections in 2011 are well conducted. 

In West Africa, ECOWAS has responded by appointing Nigeria’s Acting President, Jonathan Goodluck as it Chairman implying recognition of the country’s leadership status in the region and the willingness of the other heads of Government to work with him to address challenges across the region. 

With Nigeria having resolved its own leadership crisis through democratic processes, Jonathan Goodluck is on firm footing to lead Nigeria and ECOWAS member nations through the challenges that confront the region and in the process roll back the clouds of darkness that had almost enveloped West Africa 

kingsley Omose  

“We must be the change we want to see in the world.”  – Mahatma Gandhi