The history of African nations cannot be completely told without the term “military coup.” This phrase carries the weight of sudden upheaval, a stark reminder of how power can swiftly shift hands, reshaping the course of nations and leaving futures uncertain.
Military coups have frequently shaken the foundations of governance and society, leaving behind profound impacts that extend far beyond the initial seizure of power.
Beyond the headlines and immediate political changes, the consequences of such coups have resonated deeply across various aspects of these countries’ social, economic, and international landscapes.
Join us as we explore some notable impacts that military coups have had on African nations.
Ethnic violence in Nigeria
The 1966 coup in Nigeria deeply exacerbated ethnic tensions, triggering violence and significant political consequences. The counter-coup that followed the initial uprising led to the downfall of Major General Ironsi’s regime and the rise of Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon.
These upheavals were marked by ethnic divisions, intensifying animosities among the Igbo, Hausa-Fulani, and Yoruba communities. The ensuing ethnic violence played a pivotal role in sparking the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), which pitted the Igbo-dominated state of Biafra against the Nigerian federal government.
To date, the Nigerian government is still battling with the Biafra agitation and a lot of lives have been lost in the fight.
Neglect of traditional agricultural-based economy in Nigeria
One of the economic effects of military coups in Nigeria is the abandonment of the traditional agricultural-based economy. This led to Nigeria’s extreme dependence on exports of oil. The shift birthed an unstable economy as oil prices experienced frequent fluctuations.
Reports say the Babangida regime was characterised by complete neglect of the non-oil sectors and misplaced priorities. Also, the military-economic policy led to 45% of foreign exchange earnings being spent on debt servicing.
Erosion of democracy in Niger
The 26th of July 2023 Niger coup was the fifth military coup d’etat since the country gained independence from France in 1960, and the first since 2010.
In between there have been several coup attempts. The most recent of which was in 2021 when military dissidents tried to seize the presidential palace two days before the inauguration of President-elect Mohamed Bazoum.
All these coups make it challenging for Niger to develop and maintain stable democratic institutions.
Political instability in Niger
Military coups in Nigeria lead to political instability, as the sudden change in leadership disrupts established governance structures. This can result in power struggles, divisions among political factions, and a lack of clear leadership, which undermines the country’s stability and can lead to ongoing conflicts.
The current political instability currently impacts vulnerable children and families as hunger continues to escalate.
International Isolation in Niger
The frequency of coups can make international organizations, such as the African Union (AU) and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) suspend Niger as a member-state.
This is because these organisations often have protocols and agreements that condemn unconstitutional changes of government.
International isolation can mean less money coming in, fewer jobs, and poorer living conditions. Niger could also have trouble staying safe because it might not get help from other places to fight terrorism.
Sub-optimal economic growth and development in Mali
One of the poorest countries in the Sahel region is Mali and this is because of the recurring military coups in the country.
The sub-optimal economic growth in the region can be attributed to the neglect of economic growth and development by the military junta. Military juntas are more interested in consolidating their hold on political power than introducing economic policies that will facilitate economic growth.
Also, potential foreign investors will be more sceptical about bringing in much-needed foreign direct investments into Mali because of the coups.
Weakened fight against insurgency in Mali
The military coup weakens the fight against insurgency and jihadi groups in the region by disrupting established security structures, diverting focus from counter-insurgency efforts, and eroding international cooperation.
The power shifts and instability caused by coups undermine military leadership, hampering strategic planning and coordination in tackling insurgent groups. Moreover, resources that would have been allocated to counterinsurgency operations are often redirected to address internal political challenges.
Moreso, international partners, crucial in providing training, intelligence, and resources for counterinsurgency, are hesitant to engage with governments that have come to power through coups, thus reducing the effectiveness of collaborative efforts.
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