Displaying items by tag: Election
Coup making is not the exclusive preserve of soldiers or the armed forces. Civilians, too, do stage coups. In Nigeria, we have had our fair share of coups and counter-coups, and have resolved that our collective aspirations as a people are best served by a government of the people, for the people and by the people.
Every form of government has its own warts. We have been indoctrinated to believe that the universal adult suffrage of the West is God-ordained. But we have seen, especially in the last US presidential elections, attempts to stage a coup by overrunning the parliament and preventing the announcement of the winner of the elections. That incident clearly showed the whole world that there is nothing unassailable about American democracy. Every mother does have them.
Long ago, I came to the conclusion that each society deserved to devise its own system based on its history, culture and aspirations. The monarchical system of Saudi Arabia is replicated in the United Kingdom. Even then, the more you try to compare them, the more they look different because each has its own peculiar flavour. The world can no longer describe a monarchical setting as autocratic because these days, the monarch merely reigns while a prime minister rules.
Until recently, Senegal had the distinction of being the poster boy for democracy in Africa. Since Independence in 1960, the country has managed to glide from one civilian administration to the other, even the handing over of power by a ruling party to the opposition— First in 1980, from Leopold Sedar Senghor to Abdou Diouf; then, in 2000, from Diouf to Abdoulaye Wade; and then, in 2012, from Wade to Sall. The country has never experienced the ugly incidence of coups, not even when forceful change of government was commonplace in Africa.
Third Term Bug
Although regular elections are held, each one of Senegal’s leaders attempted to stay in power longer than the designated time. Political observers had been wondering if incumbent president Macky Sall would escape the bite of the tenure extension bug, especially as he had publicly declared that he would not succumb to what we in Nigeria call the “third term syndrome”. Everything seemed primed for a successful election until the president forcefully procured an indefinite postponement of the election by getting the parliament to do his bidding with security forces bundling opposition elements who disagreed with the move out of the parliament.
Judging by his body language, Sall desired to run for a third term, but knowing that such an unconstitutional move would pit him against the people, he jettisoned that option in 2023, and endorsed Amadou Ba as his candidate for succession. Then, as the election date drew nearer, it seemed he could no longer bear the imminent change in status from president to citizen and he therefore decided to make another attempt at tenure elongation by first postponing the elections indefinitely. Sall, who has been in power since 2012, called off the elections over disputes about the disqualification of potential candidates and concern about a repeat of the unrest seen in 2021 and 2023. Senegal’s opposition has decried the move as a “constitutional coup” and suspects it is part of a plan by the presidential camp to extend Sall’s term in office.
It is interesting how history repeats itself. Sengor had played a few political tricks to stay in power for 22 years before handing over power to his chosen successor, Abdou Diouf, in 1980. Diouf stayed in power for two decades during which Abdoulaye Wade was his fiercest opponent. Wade went to jail for his political convictions and even went on exile at a point in time.
His tenacity won him a lot of followers and his popular movement succeeded in defeating the long-ruling Socialist Party headed by Diouf. Towards the end of his second term, he succumbed to the third term bug. He started plotting how to remain in power beyond the constitutional mandate. When he saw that the people of Senegal would not tolerate him for one day longer than constitutionally guaranteed, he named his son, Karim Wade, as his successor. The dynastic dream of the Wades was not to be. Karim ran foul of the law and was convicted of corruption, thus ending his presidential dream.
After the elimination of Karim Wade from the list of possible leaders in the country, Senegal was confronted with the possibility that power could go to Ousmane Sonko, a maverick politician nicknamed by some of his admirers as the “Trump of Senegal”. It was Sonko who published a book on oil and gas corruption in which the Sall-led administration was roundly indicted. It was also Sonko who famously said, “Those who have ruled Senegal from the beginning deserve to be shot.”
Last year, sexual assault charges were preferred against him in what many people saw as political vendetta. The court acquitted him of the rape charge but convicted for “corrupting the youth”. Young people, many of whom believe in him, took to the streets in protest, but Sall quelled all the protests forcefully. But Sonko is out of this 2004 ballot.
With Sall and Sonko out of the race, is there a clear frontrunner? The answer is no. Analysts have been weighing the chances of Sall’s chosen successor Ba, as well as long-time Sall opponents Khalifa Sall and former premier Seck. There is also Bassirou Diomaye Faye, whom members of Sonko’s now-dissolved Pastef party nominated as a back-up candidate in the event of Sonko’s disqualification. Faye himself is in detention but he remains eligible to run as there has been no ruling yet on the case of defamation and contempt of court against him.
It is unlikely that any of the candidates will cross the 50% threshold in the election to claim victory. The election is therefore likely to go to the second round.
President Sall’s bad behaviour has put his brother presidents in ECOWAS in a quandary. With the way ECOWAS has been sending signals that coups are no longer welcome in the West African sub-region, it was embarrassing that Senegal, the stainless member of the community, the beacon for democracy is toeing the line of anomie. Frantic efforts were being made by the regional body and the African Union last week to save President Sall from himself. It was clear to every objective analyst that Sall had pushed his country to the precipice. The only logical gear to engage was the reverse gear.
Which was what, thankfully, the Constitutional Court did last week to the relief of all those who had been monitoring the unfolding tragedy. Opposition presidential candidates and lawmakers had filed a number of legal challenges to last week’s parliamentary bill, which also extended President Macky Sall’s mandate in what critics said amounted to an “institutional coup”. Senegal’s Constitutional Council has now cancelled the decree signed by President Macky Sall that postponed the election. The National Assembly’s move on February 5 to reschedule the vote for December 14 also was adjudged “contrary to the constitution”.
As a result of protests and international pressure, President Macky Sall has ordered the release of some political prisoners. To further ease the tension in the land, the president also has to lift restrictions placed on internet usage
Let Sall’s misadventure into ‘third-termism’ be a lesson to all African leaders. You have no right to transmogrify from a democrat to a despot. Indeed, your tenancy of the state house is at the pleasure of the people. It is immaterial whether the mastermind of a coup is a soldier or a civilian; a coup is a coup. Had Sall’s coup succeeded, it wouldn’t have been any different from those of Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger.
Dele Farotimi Lawyer and Human Rights Activist declared that protests are for reactionaries and it is a waste of time.
Farotimi made this know in as a guest on CityTalks with Reuben Abati on City 105.1.
It's been a year since Nigeria was rocked by the historic #ENDSARS protest, a youth-led anti-police brutality action.
The Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), a now-disbanded police tactical unit infamous for cruelty against criminal suspects, sparked the protest, which developed from social media campaigns into street rallies in October 2020.
The protest became a platform for demanding government action against insecurity, corruption, economic woes, and general maladministration blamed for the suffering of the majority of Nigerians and lack of opportunities for the youth. Although SARS activities and general issues of police brutality, including unlawful arrests, torture, and extrajudicial killings, were at its core, the protest became a platform for demanding government action against insecurity, corruption, economic woes, and general maladministration blamed for the suffering of the majority of Nigerians.
The Lagos based lawyer stated that the Nigerian state is deaf to change.
He further stated that he cannot go out protesting to a deaf entity.
When fielded with questions why there was a stacked division in terms of the response to the #ENDSARS protest in the northern region except the Federal Capital Territory: because the protest was more significant in south, rather than a national affair; Mr Farotimi was of the opinion that the northern region will not come out because most of them don’t understand what is going on and moreso they the issue of banditry, kidnapping to deal with.
In retrospect: according to the human right activist, “nothing has changed, every Nigerian is a victim of Nigerian.
“Each of us has become victimized by the abominable insanities that we have normalized
“Nobody can discount the humanity of the policeman.
“I have friends, family members who are police men and I know the deplorable conditions they live.
“When you demand that the humanity of a man be recognized and the man denies the humanity of the person from whom is demanding recognition, it doesn’t work like that.
“Is not about people not remembering that policemen who died, but we should ask ourselves; in what circumstances?
“Were the policemen killed by peaceful protesters for whom the likes of me will speak for?
“Or by miscreants they brought to disrupt the peaceful protest?”
He said, “I believe we have learnt several lessons, when you speak in relation to the Nigerian State and the rulers of Nigeria, it is either we conclude that they either learnt nothing at all or they are very deliberate in responding to what they did learnt by merely reinforcing the extent of their readiness to cow the citizenry.
“In so far as it relates to learning lessons, the enthusiasm of the Nigerian youth that felt the #Endsars movement has not being dampened, but they have learnt that they are not protesting to a benign moral force to whom appeals would elicit anything other than bullets.
“The events that terminated the protest have sufficiently advertised the nature of the country in which we leave.
“The state has done a fantastic job of reinforcing just exactly how little it has either learnt or how little it is prepared to change
“Because the same brutality that led to the end of the protest was on open display.”
Minister Lai Mohammed, Information Minister and Culture has said that were false and misleading as most of those who made the claims of losing people were yet to show up and give evidence a year after such allegations.
In a rebuttal concerning Mr Mohammed’s comment, Farotimi said; “In the first place there was a live Instagram feed, nobody has argued about that.
“In the second place, before the panel in Lekki the Nigerian Army was busy a probating and reprobating but eventually a fact was established in that place, that bullets were fired; fact established forensically.
“Secondly, there were hospitals who have brought their testimony before the panel, establishing clearly that they received gunshot injuries victims from the tollgate, established beyond reasonable doubt.
“I witness what happened on 20 October, 2020 and I listened to the testimony of DJ Switch.”
He added, “What will make an intelligent person like Raji Fashola, Honourable Federal Minister of works and Housing going to the toll gate to discover a camcorder that was not missing, if it is not a furtherance of a fraud to cover up what they did in that place.
“What else explains that level of iodophilia stupidity.
“Where is that camcorder today?
“Enough lies have been told that day to stitch together a very picture of the truth.”