Many African political pessimists had retreats of thought, when Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) assisted in ending the iron-fisted rule of Yahya Abdul-Aziz Jemus Junkung Jammeh of the Gambian Republic in January 2017. Many Africans especially the Gambians were plunged into a cornucopia of euphoria. African political pundits sighed and retorted: West Africa is on the verge of democratic rampage, thanks to ECOWAS.
However, my anxiety knew no bounds when I read that Faure Gnassingbe of Togo is the new ECOWAS head, albeit his porous political susurrus and maneuvering. ECOWAS leaders, your humble son is curious to know what went wrong. Will Faure Gnassingbe have moral rights to condemn defiant Africa leaders who refuse to give up political powers?
Without further ado, I will provide my discerning readers with the circumstance under which the new ECOWAS head became president of Togo. Banjo Adewale is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Zululand in the Republic of South Africa. He presents a solid argument against constitutional and succession crisis in West Africa published in the African Journal of legal studies in 2007. Upon the above scholarly piece that I will posit; the current president of Togo is bereft of trustworthiness and integrity to lead ECOWAS.
The Republic of Togo gained political emancipation from France in 1960. Togolese immediate leader after independence was Sylvanus Olympio who governed the country until 1967 when GnassingbeEyadema staged a bloodless coup. It is equally worthy of recognizing that Togo was the first country in West Africa to stage coup d’etat on January 13, 1963. Under the auspices of “Huntingtonian third wave of democratization”, the ban on political parties was lifted in 1991. As every sentient creature would anticipate, pursuance of a free, fair and transparent election in corruption-ridden and poverty stricken frightened Togo was like a bootless errand. As a corollary, Eyadema was declared winners of all the three elections after 1991.
These so-called resounding victories were not devoid of fraud, repression, primitive bigotry and intimidation.
Human rights abuse became very rife. This partly explains why in 1993, European Union (EU) jettisoned its operations with the Eyadema regime. In an attempt to ameliorate the sickening human rights records and hostile antagonism to the opposition, EU-sanctioned Togo. In February 5, 2005, GnassingbeEyadema, the then longest-serving African leader died on his way to France for medical evaluation. It appeared Eyadema buckled the trajectories of the political desires of the two generations of Togolese. He fashioned out an easy path of condemning Togolese under his stealthy political hegemony even after his death.
No sooner had the news of his death which was destined to throw many southern Togolese into spontaneous cheering and jubilation broken than military high command making his son Faure Gnassingbe his successor. The military elites led by General Zachari Nandja accomplished this task by suspending the Constitution and pledging loyalty to Faure. This was a quick move to reduce diplomatic pressure and to offer their dubious political maneuvering a semblance of a fair political game, Adewale, intimated.
The international communities condemned the constitutional torpedo in Togo. The same ECOWAS which has ushered many pundits into a state of puzzlements by making Faure its head, issued various statements of discontent and demanded a re-birth of constitutional rule in Togo. The West African regional leaders threatened to apply sanctions including travel bans and freezing of assets of Faure. Togo remained unperturbed as Faure refused to grant an ECOWAS delegation leader and President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo a plane landing rights.
Yahya Jammeh equally hatched a plan to lead ECOWAS. Thank God it did not materialize. What would have happened if Jammeh was ECOWAS leader when he refused to relinquish power? West African leaders must set a good example by allowing leaders with deep-rooted democratic attitudes to lead them. Faure Gnassingbe’s tenure of office was expected to end in 2015, but he manipulated the constitution again for the third term. West Africans love Togolese, even so we need a leader who could clamp down Dictatorship and Faure is not one of them. Let us show some love to Togolese by providing them the benefits of a proper democratic governance. This is a big goof, ECOWAS! Come again!