By: Akinyinka Kalejaiye
The recent military takeover of governments in Mali and Sudan have, once again, promoted the issue of the military and political governance to the front burner of political discourse and rhetoric.
It is trite and banal that military governments is an aberration but some underlying political anomalies usually force them into existence. In the case of Mali, there has been an intractable political crisis which the Africa Union had intervened to no avail. Similarly, in Sudan’s case their president forcefully held on power for more than thirty years
However, it would appear that coups are a correction to the intransigency of the misbehaving political oligarchy but this is inaccurate.
While the misbehavior, delinquency, and corruption of the political class may provide an ample opportunity for the patrolling soldiers to abandon their beat to take over government and by implication the suspension of political activities, it should be noted that more often than not, counter coups are the results of intra military cleavages and rivalries and friction which lead to inter military regime displacement. For example, it is a known fact that Ojukwu refused to acknowledge Gowon’s headship of the Army in 1966 because Gowon was not the most senior military officer then. Some writers believe that this was the real reason for the civil war.
By the same token, the coup that truncated the regime of General Gowon was executed by some disgruntled military officers in 1975. In 1976, another set of disillusioned Officers staged another coup that terminated the life of General Muritala Mohammed.
It has also been said by political historians that the coup of General Babaginda which terminated the regime of General Buhari was prompted by self-aggrandizement and acrimonious adversity. Babaginda himself had to contend with two unsuccessful coup attempts to displace his regime, one by his close friend, Mamman Vasta and the other by Major Orkar.
Upon taking over state apparatus, military professionalism is undermined as their attention, as we now have in Mali and Sudan and as we have seen before in Nigeria, is turned upon state apparatus. The irony is that they are not politicians by professional calling neither do they have the capacity and capabilities and competence to midwife an efficient transfer of power to the civilians. Consequently, what we discover is that the regimes are neither totally democratic nor autocratic in nature.
The military junta in Mali and Sudan have as their immediate priority the transfer of government to the civilians. The known strategy common to all military induced democracies is this, namely; they set up a constituent Assembly whose report will be heavily doctored to favour this preferences and wishes, then they create a constitution that is largely imbalance and filled with land mines that may trigger crisis or another opportunity for military intervention and lastly they conduct an election that is not free not fair to hand over power to themselves or their stooges.
As a result, the failure of most democratic processes midwifed by military regimes can be traced to the style of the transfer process which is engendered not for the good of the people but as a way of safeguarding their economic interest. In this regards, a certain set of reactionaries and their foot soldiers are usually promised and promoted into power by the departing military junta.
Contrary to expectations, the various military regimes began, in no time, to perpetuate monstrous acts of corruption, which was one of the calamities they purported came to cure.
It cannot be overemphasized that how long any military government stays in power is determined by how well it can keep away the preying eyes of other soldiers from the prize or crown. This is done either through postings, promotions, premature retirement, or outright elimination of stubborn officers.
The perplexing and real question to ask is whether the military or the civilians is responsible for the state of economic retardation in Africa. It is my considered opinion that military regimes have been more detrimental to economic progress and development. For example, Ogun State during the Babaginda’s regime had four governors in four years namely, Oladipo Diya 1984, Oladayo Popoola 1985, Raji Rasaki 1986, Mohammed Lawal 1987. Under such condition of fluidity there cannot be any meaningful economic planning and development.
Again, the ill-advised takeover of mission schools by the military lead to decapitation of our educational system as no nation can raise beyond the limit of her educational capacities and endowments.
It is for this reason that we urge the political class, all over Africa, to play by the rules of democracy as there is no real alternative to popular democracy. To this end, the issue of tenure elongation should not arise and if it does, it should be defeated by the legislature. We may recall the shameful and ill-advised attempt by President Olusegun Obasanjo to extend his tenure beyond the two terms guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria through an amendment of the constitution that failed at the National Assembly.
In the final analysis, it is clear and unambiguous that the penance against military intervention in politics is good governance and respect for the rule of law.