The menace of corruption is fuelling several military takeovers of existing democratic governments in many African countries, the chairperson of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Bolaji Owasanoye, has said.
Mr Owasanoye noted how the West Africa region has experienced a resurgence of military takeovers of government in the last two years.
According to the ICPC boss, civil unrest has remained a factor in military juntas’ violent takeover of authority.
Mr Owasanoye said weak institutions, absence of rule of law, corruption in government insecurity and political instability has continued to stymie growth in the sub-region, prompting ordinary people to demand a change of administration.
He stated this during his opening remarks at the 5th General Assembly of the National Anti-Corruption Institution of West Africa (NACIWA) in Abuja on Monday.
The event, with the theme, ‘The Role of Regional Economic Communities in the Implementation of the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption’, was jointly organised by Nigeria’s two leading anti-graft agencies ICPC and the EFCC.
It was attended by several anti-corruption advocates, the chairman of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, including members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and others.
NACIWA is a regional network created by national anti-corruption institutions at the initiative of ECOWAS in 2010. It serves as a forum for exchanges and consultation between national anti-corruption institutions in ECOWAS member countries.
“Let me note with concern that the sub-region has, in the past two years, witnessed a resurgence of a military takeover of governments and a reversal of years of gains of democratic culture in our 15 nation regional member states.
“The new wave started in Mali in 2020 followed by Guinea in 2021 and most recently Burkina Faso in February 2022 just last month. There have been reported failed attempts in other places, most notably Guinea Bissau. The question is what role has corruption played in the resurgence of military coups in the West African sub-region.
“Every student of West African history knows that social discontent is always a factor in the forceful takeover of government by military juntas. The current wave of coups is however occasioned by a mixed bag of issues within the region including regional political instability, insecurity, absence of rule of law, weak institutions and of course corruption in government and governance.
“The presence of these factors and more, but most especially weak institutions of state and corruption in government and governance has and continues to undermine development aspirations of the region and makes ordinary people welcome change of government no matter how implemented in the hope that livelihood will improve.”
West African coups
There have been coup-related tensions in the West Africa sub-region with the military in Mali, Guinea and Burkina Faso toppling democratic governments in the last two years.
In April last year, Chadian President, Idriss Déby Itno, was killed in battle with rebels, and his death served as an opportunity for the military to shove aside the country’s democratic institutions under the pretext of ensuring stability in the county.
Military generals torpedoed constitutional succession arrangements and installed the slain leader’s son, Mahamat, a general to lead a military transition council that promised to rule for 18 months.
Like many other African countries, Nigeria has seen at least eight successful and failed military coups since its independence from British colonial rule in 1960, beginning with one led by Major Kaduna Nzeogwu in 1966.
Action taken against coup nations
In his remarks, Francis Kaifala, the outgoing President of NACIWA, said Mali, Guinea, and Burkina Faso, where there have been recent coups, have been removed from NACIWA due to ECOWAS sanctions.
”Three of our members have been de-linked because of military intervention in their country, that led to ECOWAS sanctions. Those three members were very active members of NACIWA and included the Vice President from Mali, the financial secretary from Guinea, and Burkina Faso who were all active members from inception but cannot be here today because they have been delinked.
“Despite the challenges we have continued to work and coordinate and partner. Also part of the reasons why we are here is to ensure we have continuity in our work by electing a new executive to take over the reins of activities.”
President Jean Claude Kassi Brou, President of the ECOWAS Commission, stated that corruption remained a big issue in the overall governance process across the ECOWAS Member States.
Mr Brou, who was represented by Femi Ajibawa, stated that the issue of corruption has resulted in a breakdown of trust and confidence between citizens and government.
”In achieving this, ECOWAS Commission facilitated the setting-up of two key platforms namely; Network of Anti-Corruption Institutions in West Africa (NACIWA) and ECOWAS Civil Society Organizations Platform on Transparency and Accountability in Governance (ECSOPTAG) to act as a medium aimed at promoting and upholding the esteemed values of transparency, accountability and integrity in the management of socio-economic and political affairs of the Member States.”
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: Call Willie - +2348098788999