: …“In all my years as an aid worker, I have rarely seen a humanitarian response so impeded and unable to deliver in response for so long, to so many with such pressing needs.” Jan Egeland, former UN’s Chief of Humanitarian Affairs on Ethiopia/Tigray crisis.
Ethiopia is right now going through civil war between it and its self-autonomous region of Tigray. Although the government of Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed in Addis Ababa would like to deny the crisis. Since the war started, he has tried to deny its magnitude in order to divert the attention of the international community from the real situation.
The 2019 “Nobel Peace Prize winner” has persistently denied international aid agencies access to the region. And has ignored calls for peaceful negotiation from the regional organizations and international diplomats. His major grouse is the desire of Tigrayans to demand full independence from Ethiopia. This is a common problem among African leaders. They are not interested in any call for separation and independence of any part of their countries. They don’t want to consider the merit of such call. They would rather opt for war than to settle it in a civilized manner; peacefully, through dialogue.
If a region of a country has genuine reason to demand independence from the parent country, it will not retreat until the goal is actualized. The colonialists committed blunders in many parts of the world during their quest for colonization. Incompatible cultures and people were forced together, ignoring the eventual consequences. Sometimes, people were lifted from their original homes and forced to live with different people in other lands just because they look alike.
This is at the center of many political, civil, tribal, and constitutional crises in many former colonies around the world today. The former colonial masters are culpably indifferent to such crises. The crises most often start slowly and crawl into full blown civil wars. Besides Ethiopia in this group, you have Nigeria, Uganda, Senegal, etc.
Nigeria had a vicious civil war that ended about fifty years ago, 1967 – 1970. The war claimed the lives of two million people. It is the worst civil war in Africa till date. The war was fought against the people of Southeast of the country who were forced to declare their independence, Republic of Biafra, from the Nigerian federal government.
The former colonial master, Britain, supported the federal government. They organized many countries of the world even those hitherto not her allies including Russia and Egypt to fight along with her against the people of Southeast. It was a case of killing a fly with a sledge hammer! Russia sold its military hard wares, jetfighters and bombers, arms and ammunitions; and with Egypt, supplied the pilots that flew the military planes that raided every city, town, and village in the Biafran enclave.
Starvation was weaponized which caused more deaths than those who died in the battlefields. There were air and land blockades. This was to make sure that nothing gets into the new republic hurriedly described as rebels. These dangerous techniques are being applied in Ethiopia today.
Thousands of people have been killed both within and outside the frontlines since the fratricidal hostility started in November of 2020. More than 60,000 have been displaced and dispersed to their unstable neighboring countries of Sudan and Eritrea. It seems the international community has ignored this seemingly ethnic cleansing.
African leaders should know that war does not bring peace. It is dialogue that brings peace and promotes it. On the other hand, crisis leads to crisis. Nigeria is a typical example here. It was thought that the country’s civil war would teach the leaders a bitter lesson and help them to sit up and do things rightly. That assumption failed woefully, a disaster.
Nigeria has never been without crisis since its civil war ended fifty years ago. It has been from one crisis to another, one ethnic group against the other. Corruption has grown by leaps and bounds. No government has tried to do things correctly. There is obvious lack of merit and enthronement of mediocrity in both public and private circles. The worst victim is electoral process.
No election has fared well in Nigeria since 1970. This is not limited to federal elections. It’s from federal to the states and to the local governments. Internal democracy is perceived as a weak idea. It is difficult to have good general election without healthy internal democracy. If party’s primaries are rigged, the virus will not spare general election. This is why in Nigeria, electoral victory is decided by the supreme court. And through the intervention of the presidency, they will return whoever they want in spite of the person’s standing among the contestants.
Africa is in this political mess because the leader, Nigeria, is not better. A leader should be a model. Morally, he should stand head and shoulder above others. This will enable him to have the courage to correct those behind him. But when the leader is messier than those behind him, the whole place will be in leadership jeopardy. This is what Africa is going through now. Nigeria is more terrorized than any other country on the continent even Somalia.
President Yoweri Museveni has thrown his country, Uganda, into crisis. He has been in power for almost forty years. For the last election, he contested against those born when he was already the head of state of the country. Yet, some leaders in the region congratulated him for his “well deserved” victory. Senegal was one of the few stable countries in Africa. it has joined the league of unstable states. The league of unstable states are those countries where the president should not vacate his office even if it means shedding blood of the citizens. The president must remain in office no matter what. Nobody should replace him or he would set the country ablaze. Just this month, March 2021, President Denis Nguesso of Republic of Congo who has being in office for 35 years won another term that will take him to 40 years in power.
America has shown that age of the president doesn’t really matter. Europe proved that length of stay in office is not an outrageous impediment, Angela Merkel. The problem with African leaders is that they come in through corrupt system, make the situation worse, trapped by the grandeur of the office, contract sit-tight syndrome, and become afraid of what might happen if they leave office. There is need for the international community to come to the rescue to avoid the crises in Africa and the eventual exodus to the West.