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Guinea: Goodbye Conde, Welcome ‘Change’! By Ozodinukwe Okenwa


There is something absolutely ‘special’ about Guinea, a poor Francophone country in West Africa. Guineans are proud of their ancestral and cultural heritage. Their first President, nay founding father of the nation, the late Ahmed Sekou Toure, was a strongman who looked imperialism and neo-colonialism of France in the face and said a resoundingly historic ‘No’. Toure told the French imperialists that he preferred politico-economic freedom to that of slavery!

Following independence in 1958 Toure went about dismantling the famous assimilation policy pulling out of the currency union (FCFA) and establishing the Guinean Franc and Central Bank. France as the colonial power felt slighted by this currency independence that they did everything possible to rubbish the local currency.

The late Toure became a dictator and had to be removed from power by the late Lansana Conte — himself another brutal dictator. The late Conte died in power after suffering bouts of infirmity for years. He died in power in 2008.

Like the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, Conte embarked on numerous medical tourisms as his health worsened. Captain Moussa Dadis Camara and his military gang truncated a constitutional order of sucession by seizing power for themselves.

Like Nigeria Guinea is blessed with abundant natural resources but ‘cursed’ by diffident and vacuous leadership. Inhabited by majority poor miserable souls Guinea and Nigeria share the Fulani ethnic conundrum. In Guinea they are marginalized just like the Igbos of Nigeria but the Fulanis in Nigeria are known more for terrorism and herding madness.

Few days ago (last Sunday precisely) a violent military revolt shook Conakry culminating in a coup d’etat. The President, Prof. Alpha Conde, was cornered and arrested as the smoke cleared from the presidential palace. The coup was led by the Commander of the Special Forces, Col. Mamady Doumbouya.

Both Conde and Col. Doumbouya are from the Kankan region and they are both from the Malinke tribe! Conde had to invite Col. Doumbouya, the 41-year-old former French legionary based in Paris, to return home and head the newly-created Special Forces in 2018. A towering martial figure trained in Israel, France and Gabon Col. Doumbouya took power to the popular ovation of Guineans.

The overthrown President was seen on a video online seated wearing an ordinary shirt on jeans. He was being asked by a hooded Special Forces agent if he was brutalized or manhandled during his apprehension to which he never answered. Conde had to thank his stars that he was not given the Samuel Doe treatment given the monumental atrocities and corruption that characterized his 11-year leadership.

The transience of power must have hit him hard at this moment of loneliness, divested of executive power. Power does a lot of things to mortals that when they lose same they realize their folly and suddenly become normal human beings once again.

Former President Conde went the way of other power mongers and tyrants before him: the Mobutus, Bokassas, Idi Amins, Habres, Ghadaffis etc.

The fallen President, a veteran opposition politician who suffered imprisonment and exile for his insistence on democracy as a way of life in Guinea under ruthless dictatorships, was unable to extricate himself from the psychological snares of power.

As he found himself in power he soon forgot his past transmogrifying from a democrat to a gerontocrat  — corrupt and brutal. What the late Lansana Conte and Sekou Toure did to him became a ‘medicine’ worth administering to his opponents especially his main rival, Cellou Dalein Diallo.

The progressive deterioration in Conde’s democratic manners was noticable before and after the third term anti-constitutional gambit sailed through last year October following a sham presidential poll he ‘won’. He suddenly became a ferocious dictator who killed and maimed his people without any iota of conscience. He began to wield absolute and unaccountable power to the detriment of democratic ethos.

Or what would make an octogenarian to want to continue in power after the expiration of a mandatory constitutional two-term limit? If not power-drunkenness or hubris then nothing qualifies for such madness.

Like his Nigerian counterpart we see some features of syndrome of hubris which manifests itself in imperial contempt for others, loss of contact with reality, reckless actions and displays of incompetence.

The celebrated fall of Conde from power in Conakry reminded one of the fate that befell the late ex-President Mamadou Tandja of Niger Republic. Tandja went for an illegal third term but before he could execute the constitutional coup some Army Generals simply organized a palace coup and removed him from power. During the state council meeting inside the Presidential Palace in Niamey the Generals led by Salou Djibo just went in and captured him and his Ministers announcing their ouster from power!

The fall of Prof. Alpha Conde from power would definitely serve a useful lesson to the dictators elsewhere in Africa — the Biyas, the Mbasogos, the Nguessos etc. A continent brimming with youth can no longer allow themselves to be led by gerontocrats who ruin their present and mortgage their future.

We refuse to condemn the putcsh in Guinea for obvious reasons of change and circumstances. Conde had overstayed his welcome! And the future of the new generation of Guineans was at stake. While we are for democracy a time comes in the life of a nation when something better must give.

And when it gives it becomes salutary an effort to clean the Augean stable by any means possible. Whoever decides to keep a date with destiny at such crucial time is welcome!

We, therefore, welcome the ‘change’ in Guinea even if it came at the expense of an abused democracy. Goodbye Conde, welcome ‘change’!

SOC Okenwa
[email protected]


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