So called democratically elected leaders in sub saharan Africa are still taunting their hard pressed subjects after pushing them to the wall.
I am not sure whether my response satisfied Zeenat but I am sure she wanted more convincing answers. Why do we praise young people who defy death elsewhere but find it out of place to so at home? Why, even when people take to the streets here, they target fellow suffering country men and women? Pray is it not one of the ironies of life that clueless leaders continue to have their way in the most backward parts of the world whereas people in societies that are relatively better off are increasingly demanding accountability from their leaders?
These questions are valid. Before Muhammad Bouazizi self immolation that triggered the Arab Spring, all eyes were literally on sub Saharan Africa. It is in sub Saharan Africa that you have some of the meanest democratically elected despots who have cornered power for certain selfish and group interests. From Uganda and Eritrea to Nigeria and Burkina Faso, sub Saharan Africa is littered with clueless leaders who foisted themselves or were foisted on their peoples not because of how prepared they are to work but because some vested interest somewhere see and use them as puppets. So far, they are still taunting their people and pretending as if there could not be an African Spring. To them, the obnoxious title of President for Life remains relevant today as it was two or three decades ago and, as if to justify their seeming invincibility, they continue to conduct sham elections after compromising their legislatures to grant them endless tenures.
Imagine this: Eduardo dos Santos has ruled Angola since 1979 when he succeeded the late Agostinho Neto; Mbasogo Nguema has been calling the shots in oil rich Equatorial Guinea since he killed his uncle and inherited his presidential powers in 1979; Robert Mugabe has held Zimbabweans by the jugular since he came out of the bush to win elections in 1980; Yoweri Museveni has rubbished the credentials of the late Idi Amin Dada since led a rag tag army to take Kampala in 1986.
In Cameroon, the people have known only one leader in the person of Paul Biya since 1982 when Ahmadu Ahidjo willingly handed over to him. Blaise Compaore has been sitting tight since he killed his friend, Thomas Sankara, in a bloody palace coup in 1987. In Eritrea, Isaias Afewerki has succeeded in whipping his people into submission since 1993 after he led a war to break from Ethiopia while Yahya Jammeh has been the only leader known to Gambians since he pushed out Sir Dauda Jawara in a 1994 bloodless coup.
There have been other African rulers who tried but failed to perpetuate themselves in power. Not satisfied with ruling for two terms of ten years, Tanja Mammadou, a retired army general who was later elected president in Niger Republic was chased out after he sought to extend his rule. Olusegun Obasanjo avoided a similar fate when he grudgingly quit after he failed to extent his rule. In post Mobutu Sese Seko’s DR Congo, Joseph Kabila is trying to do what his slain father, Laurent, failed to achieve. Laurent Gbagbo was forced out after he refused to quit State House after he lost to Alassane Ouattara. Old man Abdullahi Wade of Senegal dropped plans to force his son on the people when he smelt a potentially dangerous Senegalese Spring. He recently claimed victory in a disputed election after ruling for ten years. Togo’s Faure Gnassingbe Eyadema is busy quarrelling with his siblings over inheriting a country they think is their late father’s private property.
The miasma in Nigeria is as disturbing as it is annoying; it is like a relay race. In a normal relay, the runner at the other bend is better and faster than the man who is handing the baton. But in Nigeria’s political relay, cluelessness is the order; all we get is one visionless and missionless leader handing the baton to another visionless and missionless leader. Cluelessness is the order; it is the only credential you need to be part of this hurtful political relay. That is the established order; the right men and women will continue to watch from the sides as the wrong men and women inflict pain on the people. The longer the system subsists, youngsters such as my nine year old interrogator may not have to wait for too long to get answers to questions posed by pictures they watch on Aljazeera.
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