“I hope that in the shortest possible time we will come back and join you here for the installation of a transitional government that will lead Burkina Faso for the next one year until the elections are held and a substantive president and new national assembly are installed”- President Mahama speaking at the end of a visit to Burkina Faso on November 05, 2014
At some point, it sounded wishful and unattainable the announced effort of the Chairperson of the West African Regional Grouping, ECOWAS, to hold consultations with the leadership of Burkina Faso and encourage them to return the country to constitutional rule.
Many, including me, clearly had enough reasons to justify our skepticism of President John Mahama’s announced effort. I remember calling up one of his Aides and asking him if that morning’s strip to Ouagadougou was not just a waste of time. His response was that, if nothing will come out of it, he can assure me, the Mahama he knows will not have spent lots of meeting time, phone calls across to other colleagues on how to help out there.
Not even the first few files I read from the Reuters News Agency gave me any hope, and while Mahama and his colleagues Goodluck Jonathan and Macky Sall were still in Ouagadougou, the BBC put out what for me was a major dampener- the military has ordered the arrest of the former Majority Leader for calling for a civil riot.
From the French news cables, we were also reading that there was some confusion between the civil society groups and the former majority party, which was led by their resigned leader Blaise Campaore.
Can President Mahama and his colleagues handle the young and probably ambitious Lt. Col. Zida who was probably nursing his own thoughts of been the leader just like his former boss.
I must confess that when I saw one of the photographs of the two, Mahama and Zida sitting and chatting, I saw some warmth and a calm military man, but I still didn’t think that President Mahama will make any progress beyond just talking and coming home.
[contextly_sidebar id=”NEtTKEy6NCF8gwDNZURY1w5CC4s80a5Q”]The current announcement that the country’s stakeholders (and to know that Lt. Col. Zida actually gave them an ultimatum to submit the name quickly) have settled on Michel Kafando as the Interim Civilian Leader of Burkina Faso is a great achievement for my President, John Dramani Mahama, Chair of ECOWAS and his colleagues.
And yes, Lt. Col. Zida deserves to be celebrated and highly so for his composure, willingness to stabilize his country, believing in the words of the Chair of ECOWAS and on the path to bringing Ouagadougou back to goodness.
Mr. Mahama, congratulations. This definitely is yet another remarkable feat for you as Chair of ECOWAS. The world stood at attention for you when you decided to be a lone crusader for the Ebola affected countries of West Africa. Some probably heard you only at the UN, but you were all over, and in all your international engagements and even investment forums, you were making a case for the three countries and indeed the world.
There are those who have said that America and the UN would not have woken up but for your steadfastness and willingness to be the poster boy for Africa and tell the story. Today, you have succeeded in making the fastest turn around ever in what should have been a bad situation in Burkina Faso.
Your praises and commendation of Lt. Col. Isaac Yacouba Zida and the Burkina Army was also not just tactical but well intentioned, and based on what you know. In one of my conversations I remember saying that there they go again, praising the man instead of telling him to get out of there. Diplomacy is indeed another ball game altogether and I have just learnt a good lesson.
I can imagine that your consultative process with the various stakeholders wasn’t easy. But you have persevered and succeeded. Congratulations also to your early contact group from the UN, ECOWAS and AU.
This is leadership and the results we expect from our leaders and subregional grouping.
Let me also recognize the increasing good neighbourliness in the region since you became Chair. It is very clear and all can see it. To the west, east, north, Ghana is very friendly with all and the warmth among other countries is also growing much better.
I can now understand some of your decisions, like flying to Akwa Ibom with Ivorien President Alhassane Ouattara, at his old age, to join your colleague Goodluck Jonathan.
This satisfactory solution to the Burkina Faso crisis and the beginning of a process of national reconciliation and constitutional rule in a country that was on the precipice of a potentially disastrous political crisis can never be swept under the carpet.
In all these however, Lt. Col. Zida needs commendation for showing tremendous maturity and proving to be a man who was interested in restoring peace and security to his country rather than political power.
President Mahama, ayekoo and thanks for raising high the flag of Ghana and ECOWAS, and do consider honouring Lt. Col. Zida with our highest national award after his handing over. After all, he has already returned the country to constitutional rule.