By Duro Onabule
Given the very fast political developments in Nigeria within the past three months, it was not possible to focus in this column on the inevitable fall from power of President Blaise Compaore of Bourkina Faso after 27 years of brutal rule in the country.
As the history was being recorded, the fast-moving events appeared incredible, coming in the midst of seeming tight security African leaders in their various cartels of invincibility have woven round themselves in African Union, ECOWAS, East African Union, South African Union, Arab North African countries, etc.
The fall of Blaise Compaore must have been a warning from God to alert these African tyrants that there is a time-limit to their brigandage which knows no limit either in terms of dehumanizing ordinary citizens or in appropriating and misappropriating national resources into family conglomerate.
This is always in complicit with foreign governments mostly in Europe and United States. It is hardly possible for an ordinary African to operate a foreign account in Europe and United States.
On the other hand, when the grapes turn sour, European and American administrations suddenly turn holy by exposing the millions and indeed billions of dollars their African lackeys parading as leaders, had all along been allowed to steal back home and (to) deposit in foreign banks.
Blaise Compaore was one of such lackeys who shot to notoriety at a 1987 mid-day military coup in which he assassinated his boss, Captain Thomas Sankara. The coup was somewhat unprecedented. In a delusion of popularity, Sankara was caught off-guard or was betrayed by personal guards while holding court around noon on the grounds of his office.
Since then, his assassin, Compaore consolidated himself in office and gradually terrorised Burkinabe into complete helplessness in all matters of human rights violations.
Not unexpectedly, despite his controversial background, especially the brutal murder of his predecessor/boss (Captain Thomas Sankara), Blaise Compaore maneuvered himself among respectable and disrespectable African leaders in the various political groupings on the continent.
Then, on different occasions, these unwary African leaders and fellow collaborators in some cases, allowed the (now) disgraced Blaise Compaore, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, to moralise on desirability or otherwise of military coups or even people’s revolt in Africa. That was the security African leaders built round themselves for self-perpetuation in office to commit economic and criminal atrocities over Africans all over the continent.
Hence, Compaore ruled Bourkina Faso by force for over 27 years, and dignified himself annually at world gatherings like United Nations General Assembly, African Union summit, and of course Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS). Compaore was even allowed the good grace to quit at the end of his last term in office.
Unfortunately, even that gesture gave him the contempt to misunderstand Burkinabes as weak and conquered. When eventually, the moment came, Compaore prepared his political grave and buried himself. Instead of quitting gloriously as allowed by the people, he toyed with the idea of contesting for a fresh full term. And when he was resisted, Compaore offered to go for only two more years. Two ONLY, indeed.
Against Compaore’s miscalculations, the people revolted and took to the streets. As the message still did not seem to sink deeply in Compaore, the protesters set parliament on fire. At that stage, even the armed forces had to intervene in the situation by seizing power to force Compaore out of office into exile in Cote D’Ivoire.
All along, the Economic Commission of West African States (ECOWAS) remained indifferent as situation in Burkina Faso deteriorated in the last ten years and especially in the last eight months. Yet, when the armed forces responded to the people’s popular revolt to save the country, ECOWAS and African Union woke up rather provocatively with the silly ultimatum to the armed forces to quit for the barracks within two weeks. Failing which what would happen?
Burkina Faso or any such country under army rule would be wiped out from the map of Africa? Here is the arrogance of self –serving African leaders purportedly operating democracy. Any country under army rule would be suspended from African Union or/and any regional grouping on the continent.
On the other hand, the same African Union and ECOWAS would never be bothered by whatever atrocities or anti-democratic situation in any African country since any critical interference in such countries’ affairs would be easily faulted for hypocrisy.
Except for electoral changes in recent times in a few countries like Ghana, Senegal, Sierra-Leone, Malawi, Zambia and Botswana, the political pattern all over Africa is one-man/one party rule perpetually. Even in Nigeria, the only successful resistance so far is against one-man rule for life. The struggle is still on to match the above countries in free and fair elections to change government.
The demand of African Union and ECOWAS for the Burkinabe armed forces to quit within a fortnight only stopped short of declaring solidarity for one of their (African Union) colleagues, deposed Blaise Compaore. Whether that solidarity is implied or not, the people of Burkina Faso who staked their lives to get rid of Blaise Compaore and the country’s armed forces which timely filled a chaos-threatening vacuum, called the bluff of African Union and ECOWAS by defying the unwarranted ultimatum of two weeks.
Bourkina Faso therefore remains under army rule with a military officer as the Prime Minister with executive powers and a civilian as ceremonial head of state.
When Nigerian former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar almost four years ago warned that those who make peaceful change impossible make violent change inevitable, he was misunderstood, blackmailed, intimidated and threatened with treason trial by government hangers-on. Nnamdi Azikiwe once said it that history will vindicate the just.
The warning of violent change being inevitable if peaceful change is made impossible is a natural human reaction which, over the centuries, sparked revolts in Britain, United States, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Irish Republic (1916) and other parts of the world including Burkina Faso a few months ago.
Despite the arrogance of African leaders through the instrumentality of African Union and ECOWAS threatening Burkinabe with multi-diplomatic and economic sanctions, Burkina Faso under Blaise Compaore did not escape the verdict of history. Compaore is gone into political oblivion and the people can breathe again.