African leaders are corrupt, inept, tactless, and greedy. Our region is plagued with tribalism and corruption, and they do nothing about it. These words, in one form or another, many sons and daughters of the soil have said about leadership in most African countries. I was particularly loud about it. It’s evident in one of my research papers in college, a research paper titled, Nigerian Development Paradox, which explores the political economy journey of Nigeria and its region. I remember now how my wise and super effective mentor, Rosemary Barberet, would underline nearly all the words in my draft when I got personal and began pointing fingers at the dim-witted, fuddy-duddy, white bread ways of corrupt African leaders. “This is an academic paper, Victoria, not an Op-Ed,” she’d reprove. What can I say….? I mean I just wanted to go all in on everything structural adjustments, the rent; all usurers, the IMF; our great landlord, World Bank; and the gluttonous louts shipping raw cash out of Africa to Swiss Banks. Sad, but I was always fired up when presenting my findings at conferences.
But….wait…! Did anyone process what ECOWAS just did in the region? Gambian dictator, Yahya Jammeh, who refused to transfer power to the newly democratically elected president, Adama Barrow was removed! Being perhaps one of the loudest critic, it is a necessity, I figured, that I give praise when it’s due.
At first I was worried when the ECOMOG arrived at Gambia borders knowing that the big brothers who usually run to the rescue with a pay later invoice were either busy with other matters of the moment or trapped in negotiating birthrights. Who would help with humanitarian reliefs and where would refugees go if Jammeh had decided to go crazy and fight it to rubble, I’d thought.
No matter how we all felt about our leaders, it’s highly imperative to give them credit when its due. To see African leaders becoming guardians of democracy and giants for their people sends a good chill to my bone, and I’d like to feel this way more often about motherland. Nigeria, Guinea, Senegal, Liberia, and the rest coming together unanimously in defense of democracy – without being nudged to do so it’s truly praise-worthy. ECOWAS, your decision was highly consequential and was a risk worth taking. Kudos! Hopefully, the African Union (AU) will take its clue. To the leaders and all stakeholders that decisively moved to make this intervention a success, I say thank you. On behalf of Africans abroad, thank you for your leadership. We are praying for you, cheering you along, and of course, watching you.