The mirror reflection from Ouagadougou — By Osmund Agbo
The military coup of 23 January 2022, in Burkina Faso did not just deal another fatal blow to the continent’s fragile democracies but is a troubling commentary on an emerging trend in West Africa, south of the Sahara. Burkina Faso is now the third country in the Sahel to witness a military takeover in recent years, from the military putsch of May 24th, 2021 in Mali to the coup d’etat in Guinea on September 5 of the same year.
In a statement after the coup, mutinying troops said President Kaboré had failed to unite the nation and to deal effectively with the security crisis which “threatens the very foundations of our nation”. Prior to that the soldiers prosecuting the war against al-Qaeda and the Islamic State (IS) groups in that country had demanded the sacking of military chiefs and pushed for the government in Ouagadougou to devote more resources to fighting the militants. Does that sound eeringly familiar with what is going on in Nigeria?
Not too long ago, a record 54 soldiers from Nigeria’s 111th Special Forces Battalion were sentenced to death for refusing to join an operation against ISWAP insurgents. The soldiers had demanded better munitions to fight the rebels, who were better equipped with antiaircraft guns and armored personnel carriers, a demand they alleged, was never met.
Last year, militants overran an Army base in Nigeria’s northeast. A total of about 30 soldiers were killed in four attacks. In August of same 2021, gunmen attacked Nigeria’s military academy, killing two officers and kidnapping in a brazen assault on such an elite institution.
And so, though the nations are separated by land borders and marked by territorial boundaries, their is a common denominator in all the crisis in Africa’s Sahel, from Mali to Guinea, Burkina Faso to Nigeria.
Nigeria has every reason to worry.