The United States Consul-General in Nigeria, Will Stevens, has said military takeover cannot solve the problems facing African countries.
Mr Stevens said this on Wednesday in Abeokuta, Ogun State, while addressing students at the “Recycling Waste to Wealth Challenge,” a competition for secondary school students.
The event was held at Abeokuta Window on America, located in the Youth Development Centre of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL).
The US envoy noted that Africa faces huge challenges, including climate change and food insecurity but warned that only democratic stability can help in resolving its problems.
Mr Stevens attributed the growing trend of the military takeover of government in Africa to the refusal of some leaders to hand over power after their tenure in office.
The military recently seized power in Gabon, following similar events in the Sahel region where democratically elected presidents were overthrown by soldiers in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Guinea. There were also failed coup attempts in Guinea Bissau, The Gambia and the island nation of Sao Tome and Principe.
Mr Stevens said African leaders must embrace the tenets of democracy and uphold a peaceful transition of power.
He noted that Nigeria has enjoyed 24 years of uninterrupted peaceful democratic succession and urged other African countries to learn from it.
“I hope and feel that you (Africa) can fix the problems and the problems are big; its climate change which leads to flooding, it is plastics pollution, it is food insecurity, it is the backsliding of democracy in the region.
“Obasanjo served two terms and left power, he set the precedent in Nigeria of you serve and then you step aside for your successor.
“Nigeria has enjoyed 25 years of presidential succession. President Buhari just did the same thing, he served his two terms and then he stepped aside. That is a big deal in democracy – peaceful transitions of power. That is a huge thing to be proud of, It does not happen very often.
“There are presidents of neighbouring countries that have been there for a very, very long time, 20, 30, 40 years, this leads to democratic instability, it leads to coups.
“Nigeria is the fourth largest democracy in the world, you just had a successful presidential transition, and successful elections, this is something you should not take for granted. The idea that people can come into power, they can serve and then leave is really cool,” Mr Stevens said.
“Recycling Waste to Wealth Challenge” is a U.S. government-supported enterprise competition for students in secondary schools as well as vocational and technical colleges in Ogun State.