By Engr. Adesegun Olutayo Osibanjo
The Military Coups in Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger, and most recently Gabon, bring some mind-boggling observations and questions to the fore.
It is observed that these Countries are all former French Colonies or Francophone Africa, meaning these Countries were formerly under the Political and Economic control of France before their individual Independence was granted.
Why is the resurgence of Coups prevalent in Francophone Africa?
According to the Coup justification expressed by the majority of the Junta heads of these Countries, the toppled Civilian leaders were all accused of corruption and becoming Puppets while implementing the behind the scene Neocolonial Policies of the European West most particularly France to the detriment of the interest of their own People and Countries.
The real root cause of the Coups are well detailed in the excerpts from two Articles, one is titled: The Resurgence of Coups on the African Continent, in the February issue of the New African (and from an interview granted by Professor Mamadou Koulibaly, Speaker of the Ivorian National Assembly, Professor of Economics, and author of the book, The Servitude of the Colonial Pac,
The other article is: “14 African Countries Forced by France to Pay Colonial Tax For the Benefits of Slavery and Colonization” by: Mawuna Remarque KOUTONIN Tuesday, 28th January 2014: Known as the Neocolonial Policy called the French Colonial Pact, which was signed in the late 1940s.
It was an Agreement between France and its Colonies in Africa. This Pact was designed to provide a Framework for Post-Independence relations. In other words, it was a way for France to retain some good level of control over its former Colonies.
Just before France conceded to Africa’s demands for independence in the 1960s, it carefully organised its former Colonies (CFA countries) in a system of “Compulsory Solidarity” which consisted of obliging the 14 African states to put 65% of their foreign currency reserves into the French Treasury, plus another 20% for financial liabilities.
This means these Countries only ever have access to 15% of their own money while the remainder 85% sits in the French Treasury under the control and authority of the French Finance Minister! If they need more, they have to borrow their own money from the French government at commercial rates! And this has been the case since the 1960s.
France has the first right to buy or reject any natural resources found in the land of the Francophone countries. So even if the African countries can get better prices elsewhere, they can’t sell to anybody until France says it doesn’t need the resources.
In the award of Government contracts, French companies must be considered first; only after that can these countries look elsewhere. It doesn’t matter if the CFA countries can obtain better value for money elsewhere.
CFA zones are solicited to provide private funding to French Politicians during elections in France. Thus, these African states are French taxpayers – taxed at a staggering rate – yet the citizens of these countries aren’t French and don’t have access to the public goods and services their money helps pay for.
Presidents of CFA countries that have tried to leave the CFA zone have had Political, Financial, and Military pressure exerted on them by successive French Presidents.
France would repeatedly use many ex-French legionnaires to carry out coups against the elected Presidents with most of them becoming Sacrificial lambs for making and implementing the right Policies to develop their People and Countries.
When Sékou Touré of Guinea decided in 1958 to get out of the French colonial empire and opted for the Country’s independence, the French colonial elite in Paris got so furious, and in a historic act of fury, the French administration in Guinea destroyed everything in the country which represented what they called the benefits from French colonization.
The purpose of this outrageous act was to send a clear message to all other Colonies that the consequences for rejecting France would be very high.
Slowly, fear spread through the African elite, and none after the Guinea events ever found the courage to follow the example of Sékou Touré, whose slogan was “We prefer freedom in poverty to opulence in slavery.”
Sylvanus Olympio, the first President of the Republic of Togo, a tiny country in West Africa, suffered the same fate and was killed by an ex-French Legionnaire Army Sergeant called Etienne Gnassingbe who supposedly received a bounty of $612 from the local French embassy for the hit man job.
The list is endless and extends to Captain Thomas Sankara, a Pan-Africanist, proponent of Egalitarianism, and former President of Burkina Fasso who was murdered by Blaise Compaoré, his Comrade-in-Arms who took over and became President.
The consequences of the French Colonial Pact also happened to President Laurent Gbagbo of Côte d’Ivoire when he tried to end the French exploitation of his Country.
France masterminded a public rebellion against his Administration. During the long process to oust Gbagbo, French tanks, Helicopters, Gunships, and Special Forces intervened directly in the conflict, massacred 65 unarmed Civilians, and wounded 1,200 others.
After France succeeded in ousting Gbagbo and transferred power to Alassane Outtara, France requested the Ouattara government to pay compensation to the French business community for the losses during the Civil War. Indeed, the Ouattara government paid them twice what they said they had lost in leaving.
In fact, during the last 50 years, a total of 67 coups happened in 26 countries in Africa, 16 of those countries are French ex-colonies, which means 61% of the coups happened in Francophone Africa.
The sharp departure from the foregoing is that the current Wave of Military coups across Francophone Africa is not orchestrated by France using their ex-French legionnaires but by young Military officers revolting against the French Colonial Pact, denouncing the Neocolonial activities of France in their respective Countries and demanding that they be allowed to take charge of their own destinies and affairs by renouncing the Pact.
In the case of Niger, France gets 95% of revenue for Uranium, and only 5% goes to the Government of the Republic.
This new wave and reawakening may sweep through the whole of Francophone Africa in due course.
The French Colonial Pact is the brute form of Neocolonialism happening behind the scenes in Francophone Africa while Europhone Africa colonized by Britain, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, and Italy deals with Neocolonialism in its real meaning and context without the compelling 85% deposit of the former Colonies National reserves.
According to the Book, Neo-Colonialism, the Last Stage of Imperialism written by the first Prime Minister and President of Ghana, Dr. Kwame Nkrumah in 1965, the Neo-colonialism of today represents imperialism in its final and perhaps its most dangerous stage.
The essence of Neocolonialism is that the State that is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of International sovereignty. In reality, its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside. Neocolonialism happens behind the scenes because it is an indirect form of control. It continues the system of exploitation through financial means. Neocolonialism is a foreign power indirectly controlling or influencing a territory and its people, usually through financial means.
While the competing Superpowers of the United States and Russia did not establish Colonies around the World, they did use financial investment and diplomatic pressure to increase their quantity of alliances across the Globe. This was accomplished through the proliferation of foreign aid and investment in allies.
China, led by its current President Xi Jinping, has embarked on a project known as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). This infrastructure project is promoted as boosting domestic and international investment opportunities through the funding of major infrastructure projects such as Highways, Railroads, Bridges, and Ports.
Not only does it bring wealth to China, but the BRI investment projects often lock underdeveloped Countries into unfair financial Contracts and debt with China.
In all of the foregoing, anytime there is a clash of Interests, the Neocolonialists’ interest always overrides the African interest.
Neocolonial mentality has impacted negatively to a great extent on some African countries most especially Nigeria to the point of seeking validation and affirmation of Western powers in internal Politics and Election matters. The main Presidential candidates in the concluded 2023 General elections took turns to personally appear and present their Visions for Nigeria to a gathering of mainly Neocolonialists at the Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs, which is an independent Policy Institute based in London, United Kingdom. The Chairman of the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) also travelled to the Chatham House to talk about the preparedness of his Commission for the Elections holding in Nigeria. Our Politicians justify their race to Chatham House by telling us that it is a World leading Policy Institute with a mission to help Governments build a sustainably secure, prosperous and just Society, a description that fits the mandates of both our Internationally acclaimed and reputable National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS), Kuru, Plateau State and Institute of International Affairs, Ikoyi, Lagos which is Africa’s foremost Foreign Policy Think tank, yet none of our Presidential candidates deemed it fit to visit any of these Institutions to open up conversations on their Vision for Nigeria there.
With the unveiling of Neocolonialism, Africans no longer view Britain, France, the US, and the rest of Europe as beacons of hope; fear and subservience have dissipated.
Rather Russia and China are now seen as the new Beacons of hope, which is another grievous mistake because again, from the foregoing, they are all involved in the scramble and fleecing of Africa’s natural resources, and the indirect control of Africa’s economy.
A very large Chinese population has fully settled into Nigeria today, gradually killing our traditional businesses like the Adire fabric production (Local textile Industry) and meeting out high-level cruelty to Nigerians in their employment. CCECC Construction Conglomerate is one of the worst culprits that I have personally been involved with on the Nigerian Railway Modernization Project. Russian mercenaries are very lawless, and reckless and are also fleecing African resources already.
Africa may very well be on the verge of sacrificing Democracy on the altar of the revolution against Neocolonialism if African Heads of Government do not rise up to address this great challenge on the platform of the African Union (A.U) and not the regional platforms such as ECOWAS as follows:
- Unite against Neocolonialism and make a joint statement/communique to reject it outrightly and announce the cessation of Neocolonialism to the World and that African countries will henceforth enter into mutually beneficial bilateral agreements on the same level as Partners and no more Subservient agreements.
- Hold frank, blunt, and sincere conversations about placing Africa on true and ideal Democratic footing where free and fair Elections are guaranteed, same-level playing fields are made available for all to participate politically, and make dividends of Democracy visible across the Continent.
- Setup the African Union (A.U) Standby Military force to checkmate Military coups, Internal and external aggression, insurgency, and all forms of insecurity across the Continent
- Set up an Independent Democracy Monitoring team to include the Senior hierarchy of the A.U Standby Military Force to ensure compliance by making every Government responsible and accountable to the people of their respective Countries.
- Ban further establishment of Foreign Military Bases in Africa and close down all existing ones.
- Establish the African Union Economic Development Commission to set up the Economic framework for post-neocolonialism to fully take ownership of the African Fiscal and Monetary policies and direction.
The implementation of these recommendations would be the ultimate Game changer that will pave the way for Africa as an emerging Superpower in World Politics and Diplomacy, and restore respect and dignity back to African Heads of Government like in the good old days when the American Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson and other high ranking American officials waited to receive the visiting Nigerian Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa on the Invitation of President John F. Kennedy in an Airport ceremony.
The US Vice President in his welcome address expressed a very deep and genuine American interest in the exciting developments taking place in Nigeria and Africa as of then. He led the Nigerian delegation in a Motorcade to Blair House, the special residence for Guests of the American President, just across the street from the White House with crowds of eager Americans lining the streets and waving the Nigerian and American flags to welcome the Guests. Sir Balewa was later received on the doorstep of the White House by President Kennedy.
The question is, when was the last time an African Leader got accorded this high-level respect in Europe and/or America?
God bless Africa!!!
Evangelist Engr. Osibanjo is a member of the Redeemed Christian Church of God and also an evangelist in the mountain of politics