Will lightning strike twice in Côte d’Ivoire?

Posted by News Express | 25 September 2020 | 1,681 times

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As a schooled philosopher, I have been a keen lover of history, not necessarily as a scholarly field but uniquely because of my undying conviction that history ranks next to philosophy as a superstructure of intellectualism. I was trained in a secondary school system in which history wasn’t one of our courses, but on my own I read history of West Africa and wrote the West African School Certificate Examination in history and few other courses. Thankfully, it was a great outing. When I left high school and later read analyses saying that history as a field of study was uprooted in the school curriculum of students because of the politics of some warped minds not to allow younger persons to understand the dynamics of the formation of Nigeria and the attendant systemic injustices, including the pogrom of the then easterners living in Northern Nigeria, which culminated in the civil war, I almost gave up my hope for Nigeria as a truly united political entity. I wondered how on earth, the educational planners of Nigeria will undermine the study of history which dovetails even into the political science and political cultures of different societies. Thanks goodness, I just learnt that the study of history in high schools in Nigeria has been restored.

Incidentally, while reflecting once more on the place of history in the political governance of the state as a sovereignty, I chanced on a beautiful piece that captures my exact belief on the importance of history from a multi-dimensional approach.

This philosophical piece is aptly entitled “Why is history important and how can it benefit your future?” This piece is listed on a website of university of the people.

These are the framing of the analytical discussions on history as reported under the above theme. But, let’s state the major interest for this reflection before we visit that write-up on the strategic place of history in human societies.

The direct reason for making these quick references to history is because of what is about to happen in the neighbouring West African nation of Ivory Coast, following the insistence of President Alassane Ouattara to run for an unprecedented third term in office. The writers asked: “Why is History Important And How Can it Benefit Your Future?”

They responded: “History is a topic that many find boring to study or a waste of time. But there is more to studying history than meets the eye. Let’s answer the age-old question: Why is history important? They then inquired into the all-important theme of What Is History? They then responded thus: “History is the knowledge of and study of the past. It is the story of the past and a form of collective memory. History is the story of who we are, where we come from, and can potentially reveal where we are headed. They also attempted an analysis on the import and essence of the study of history when then sought to know: Why study History: The Importance. “History is important to study because it is essential for all of us in understanding ourselves and the world around us. There is a history of every field and topic - from medicine, to music, to art. To know and understand history is absolutely necessary, even though the results of historical study are not as visible, and less immediate.”

So, we now move to the political history of Ivory Coast, which is not so different from the rest of the African continent in which the concept of the African big man or African Big-manism has eaten deep into the political marrow of the Black continent. And these DICTATORS of African nations have through their inordinate ambitions to remain in office in perpetuity virtually destroyed Africa. The current administration in Ivory Coast is not a respecter of history, because it is about re-igniting the political conflicts that brought the President into office, due to the overwhelming ambition of the then president to remain in office. The decision of Alassane Ouattara to self perpetuate has stoked the embers of disunity in Ivory Coast.

Ivory Coast’s main opposition candidate is calling for civil disobedience to prevent Ouattara from being elected to a third term in next month’s elections.

Henri Konan Bedie issued the call Sunday in the capital, Abidjan, during a gathering with other opposition candidates and their supporters, so reported Voice of America.

The West African country has been mired in violence that has left at least a dozen people dead since last month, after the 78-year-old Ouattara broke a promise he made earlier this year not to seek reelection. Ouattara reversed his stance and formally accepted the nomination of his ruling party after his handpicked successor, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, died suddenly of a heart attack in July.

Ouattara’s opponents say he is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term. But the president has dismissed their complaints, saying a new constitution approved after he was elected to a second term in 2015 does not apply to him. The country’s Constitutional Court has cleared Ouattara to stand in the election.

The current unrest is likely to dredge up memories of the post-election violence in 2010, when 3,000 people died after then President Laurent Gbagbo refused to concede the presidential election to Ouattara.

Gbagbo was charged by the International Criminal Court in 2019 for crimes against humanity in connection with the violence, but he was cleared of those charges in a ruling last year. He is currently living in exile in Europe while prosecutors appeal the court’s ruling. However, he is said to be ready to return to his nation to try to resist the third term gambit of his successor. And there is the likelihood of another civil war in that nation.

VOA recalled that in 2010/11, Ivory Coast was plunged into a bloody post-electoral crisis that claimed more than 3,000 lives. Death squads roamed the economic capital of Abidjan. Mass graves were dug and promptly filled.

The violence was triggered by a contested presidential election result. The country’s then president, Laurent Gbagbo, declared victory in the second round, as did his main challenger, Alassane Ouattara. Neither was willing to back down.

The crisis culminated in Gbagbo’s arrest by French-backed pro-Ouattara forces in April 2011. Ouattara was sworn into office one month later, while Gbagbo was sent to the International Criminal Court (ICC) on charges of crimes against humanity.

A decade on, Ouattara is still in office. He is running for a third term as head of state, even though the constitution limits the presidency to two.

The government has defended this decision by arguing that the term count should be reset to zero, given that the constitution was reformed in 2016. Ouattara’s decision has already led to widespread unrest and clashes between security forces and  demonstrators, resulting in at least six deaths so far. With elections scheduled for October 31, a number of outcomes are possible. This argument supporting the decision of the current administration to remain in office for a third term is a fallacy. This is because in lawmaking processes, the head of government ought not to undermine the constitutional foundation that brought the president to office and then hope to benefit from the thwarting of the status quo.

A law to stretch further the tenure limitation must not be made to benefit the incumbent or else what that country is practising is tyranny and dictatorship. Such must be resisted by the people to maintain their democratic history. This tendency to torpedo the constitution so as to be railroaded into third term in office is the reason Africa was dismissed as a hopeless continent by a lot of scholars of democracy.

In May 2000, The Economist published a cover on the same theme, which noted as follows: "AT the start of the 19th century, Freetown was remote and malarial, but also a place of hope. This settlement for destitute Africans from England and former slaves from the Americas had become the main base in West Africa for enforcing the British act that abolished the slave trade. At the start of the 21st century, Freetown symbolises failure and despair.

“The capital of Sierra Leone may be less brutalised than some other parts of the country, but its people are nonetheless physically and psychologically scarred by years of warfare, and this week they had to watch as foreign aid workers were pulled out. The United Nations' Peacekeeping Mission had degenerated into a shambles, calling into question the outside world's readiness to help end the fighting, not just in Sierra Leone but in any of Africa's many dreadful wars. Indeed, since the difficulties of helping Sierra Leone seemed so intractable, and since Sierra Leone seemed to epitomise so much of the rest of Africa, it began to look as though the world might just give up on the entire continent.”

The Economist further stated: “It was in response to accusations of indifference towards Africa that the UN Security Council, at America’s behest, started this year with a ‘month of Africa.’ It went well. AIDS, refugees and wars were all on the agenda, and there were signs that the new concern was not just a 31-day wonder. The Clinton administration, for instance, has since pressed ahead with plans to combat AIDS, doubling its budgetary requests to Congress. Congress, for its part, is backing a bill that will ease or abolish trade restrictions for 48 African countries. The World Bank and other donors showed last month that they were ready to intensify the fight against malaria, a disease that causes misery in Africa. And the UN has gone ahead with its peacekeeping plans, sending 8,000 troops to Sierra Leone and pledging another 5,500, all being well, for Congo.”

From May 2000 till date, Africa is still a hopeless place politically, because the internal political dynamics are never meant to respond to contemporary demands of 21st century compliant political organisation of societies in such a way that accountability and transparency are mainstreamed in the political formative approaches adopted by independent African states, rather than the status quo in which the political leaders are adamant in their evils of self-perpetuation and the demolitions of all democratic attributes of the contemporary African nationhood. The African Big Man concept is a grave threat to Africa, and the lack of good governance has become another toxic character of the political organisations of African continent.

Camila Houeland and Sean Jacobs in their reflection asked as follows: “So how do these African leaders retain political power?”

They offered: “The short answer is – Because they can. Electoral systems operate at the discretion of the President. In practice, the President makes the rules, breaks them and changes when he wants to (yes, it is normally as he). Museveni, for example, effectively controls the electoral commission and the coercive apparatus of the state: Who controls the count, wins the election and in the lead-up, the police and the army harass and intimidate the opposition, while the President campaigns uninterrupted.

“Furthermore, equating popular will with the President’s person is key. The President is always patriotic, and it is only the President who is willing and able to do what is needed. Paul Kagame’s defence was that it was not that he wanted to extend his rule: ‘It’s the people, you see, they want me to stay on.’ And the President always needs more time to fulfil his agenda."

Importantly, Africans need to worry that the African Union lacks the internal mechanisms to check these sorts of dictatorial tendencies of these individuals that have made their selfish ambitions to overwhelm the tenets of smooth transitions to another governments after an acceptable and constitutionalised tenure limitations that must never be manipulated by an incumbent for self-perpetuation.

Africans must move to stop the Lightening From Striking Twice in Ivory Coast, because of the devastating impacts of letting the nation go into another civil war with all the attendant consequences of refugees pouring out from Ivory Coast. Alassane Ouattara must be persuaded to quit honourably, to allow for a transition to another administration since the presidency of that nation should never be treated as a family inheritance of anyone. Africa must act now before darkness comes.



•Onwubiko is the Head of Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria and blogs@www.huriwanigeria.com, www.emmanuelonwubiko.com, www.huriwa.blogspot.com.

Source: News Express

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