Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Niger and Mamadou Tandja

Last year, when I became more active on this blog, I started writing articles, reviewing books and posting poems. This blog became an amalgam of posts with no clear direction. The motive behind this was to get as many readers as possible and to provide a wide range of reading materials for my followers. In this way if my reading is affected, as it has been now, then I would resort to other posts to keep the blog running. However, I realised that I needed a direction, one major vision to which all posts would gravitate. So I posted a poll (which by the way is still running) for readers, followers and visitors to express their thoughts and vote for the direction of this blog. As it stands now, only 9% of my readers are interested in articles on politics (the least percentage). Thus, to continue with this post I must apologise to my readers. I am sorry for taking you to politics though it least interest you. However, like Socialism and Capitalism, there is no absoluteness of visions. Mixtures are allowed and deviations natural in life.

So we come to the title 'Niger and Mamadou Tandja'. In my article 'Dynasty-sation of Africa's Democracies and Autocracies', I bemoaned the gradual morphing of democracies in Africa into autocracies. Mamadou Tandja, the immediate past president of Niger has been president since 1999 and in 2009 undertook an unpopular step to extend his stay in office (like many African leaders). The problem is why should he do it since he has been competing for the presidency since 1993? Had his predecessor changed the constitution to allow him to be in office, would he have finally taken the helm of affairs of the country in 1999? Yet, perhaps filled with greed and drunk with power or perhaps selflessly wanting to help his country folks, he chose the path most trodden by many an African leader and there, in less than a year, met his over-timely ousting from office.

I am in no way justifying the coup that took place. It is illegal and uncalled for and can, in no way be justified. But it is said that he who brings the faggot home should not complain of lizards. The people of Niger (even if they are the minority) are seen jubilating on the streets of Niger. If he is such a popular figure as he made it known and upon which the quest for extension was based, why would Nigeriens be jubilating.? What African leaders need to know is that it pays more to listen more to the people at the Market Center than those within the confines of their dwellings for they would only tell them what they want to hear.

In 2009 a group of individuals, and supporters alike, launched Tandja's bid for a third term. He remained quiet to all these re-election campaigns and later called for a referendum that would change the constitution of Niger. Before this, he had gone ahead to state categorically that he would step down (after two terms in office) as demanded by the constitution of Niger. Yet, with the 'pressure' on him to stay in power and continue the 'good' works he has started, Mamadou Tandja bowed to this 'positive' hallelujah-like pressure. And in power he did remain, calling for a referendum to scrape the two-term limits imposed by the constitution. Although the government can call for referendum on any part of the constitution, it is illegal for the president to call for referendum on the two-term limits, according to the Nigerien constitution. Though amendment to constitutions are legal and democratic in itself, the motive for such actions is sometimes immoral (morality and legality?). Such amendments could be done if the democracy has taken deeper roots and not in places where at the least opportunity a government is overthrown. Where the thumb trigger guns and bayonets and not ballot papers.

Let this be a lesson to all the African leaders whose ears hear different beatings of the fontomfrom drums. Let them listen to the ordinary man at the Market Centre and not the extra-ordinary man at the Palace. Let their ears listen to the silent voices and they shall become great leaders. What made Mandela great is not only his resolve to oppose the Apartheid government and his undithering and intransigent stance against discrimination of whatever form, but also his ability to rule for just a term and let go off power, his ability of not allowing himself to be snatched by the trappings of power. For have we not seen many independence fighters morphed into monstrous personalities of illogical proportions? Let the others beware! Don't bring the faggot home, if you don't want to complain of lizards for according to Okonkwo's father in Things Fall Apart (by Chinua Achebe) the sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them. Wouldn't it?


  1. Don't believe in coups even the type that appear to be justified. How long will it take until this new leader in Niger decides he should be president and eventually life president? The vicious circle continues.

  2. Hi Abena. I don't believe in Coups and I believe no coup can be justified. However, it is important for Leaders to respect the constitution. I wonder when we would realise that each person in this world has something to offer. No one is the repository of knowledge or wisdom. Yes! soon these coup makers would also turn to become life presidents. It's a pity! Let's hope things change!

  3. Nana, your review of "Harmattan Rain" did come in handy for research purposes for an interview i am about do with the author, Ayesha Harruna Attah. Thanks.

  4. thanks Nii, I am glad for letting me know. Most often I see people coming here reading but making no comments about the works. However, comments make us know whether what we are doing is having good effects of it is not necessary.


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