• February 9, 2024

War Brings Nothing but Destruction… So why not Embrace Peace?

War Brings Nothing but Destruction…  So why not Embrace Peace?
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By Alusine Fullah

“An eye for an eye will only make the whole world blind.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

I pledge my love and loyal to my country Sierra Leone I vow to serve her faithfully all times. I promise to defend her unity peace, freedom and prosperity. And put her interest above all else. So help me God.

 

How many times have we sung the National Pledge/ National Pledge? I firmly believe that there is no Sierra Leonean that have not smelt and felt our National Anthem except the lunatics. For some of us who went to school read it more than billion times. Yes, the worlds of the National Anthem are succinct, educative, informative and punchy. The million dollars questions people always ask how many times we have practicalized those words.

 

“If you are emotionally attached to your tribe, region or political belief to the point that truth and justice become secondary considerations, your education and exposure is useless. If you cannot reason beyond petty sentiments, you are a liability”, Chuba Okadigbo.

 

Sierra Leone was jolted and shaken into complete panic in the early hours on Sunday, 26th November, 2023 when the assailants sent gunfire ranging across the capital, Freetown.

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Armed men had tried to break into an armoury at a military base near the president’s home, and then attacked two of the city’s main prisons, releasing some of the inmates.  Yes, it was hell on earth!!! Twenty people were killed and nearly 2,000 inmates escaped during Sunday’s attack on a military barracks.

 

The information minister said that gunmen had tried to “subvert and overthrow” the government on Sunday. The assailants attacked a military barracks and prisons, freeing around 2,000 inmates, the authorities said. “The incident was a failed attempted coup. The intention was to illegally subvert and overthrow a democratically elected government,”

 

Information Minister Chernoh Bah said on Tuesday Government Press Conference. The IG of Sierra Leone Police said: “The attempt failed, and plenty of the leaders are either in police custody or on the run. We will try to capture them and bring them to the full force of the laws of Sierra Leone.”

 

Coups d’état/ wars are dramatic events that can have major and lasting implications for states. Negative effects include destroying democracies, spurring repression, and inviting warfare. Coups may also have more positive effects like ending civil wars and providing opportunity for democratic governance to emerge.

 

Honestly, in West Africa, coups have been frequent as food on the table in the past years or months. For instance,

 

Niger: in July 2023, members of Niger’s presidential guard detained President Mohamed Bazoum inside his palace and appeared on national television saying they were seizing power to end the “deteriorating security situation and bad governance.” Days later the junta declared the head of the presidential guard, Abdourahamane Tiani, the new head of state, raising concerns about the security of a region where Niger has been a key ally of Western powers seeking to contain insurgencies by groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State.

 

Guinea: in September 2021, special forces commander Colonel Mamady Doumbouya ousted President Alpha Conde. A year earlier, Conde had changed the constitution to circumvent limits that would have prevented him from standing for a third term, triggering widespread rioting. Doumbouya became interim president and promised a transition to democratic elections within three years.

 

ECOWAS rejected the timeline and imposed sanctions on junta members and their relatives, including freezing their bank accounts. The military regime later proposed to start the 24-month transition in January 2023, but opposition parties say it has done little to put in place institutions and a roadmap to return to constitutional rule.

 

Chad: in April 2021, Chad’s army took power after President Idriss Deby was killed on the battlefield while visiting troops fighting rebels in the north. Under Chadian law, the speaker of parliament should have become president. But a military council stepped in and dissolved parliament in the name of ensuring stability.

 

Deby’s son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby, was named interim president and tasked with overseeing an 18-month transition to elections. The unconstitutional transfer of power led to riots in the capital N’Djamena that were put down by the military.

 

Mali: in August 2020, a group of Malian colonels led by Assimi Goita ousted President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. The coup followed anti-government protests over deteriorating security, contested legislative elections and allegations of corruption. Under pressure from Mali’s West African neighbours, the junta agreed to cede power to a civilian-led interim government tasked with overseeing an 18-month transition to democratic elections to be held in February 2022.

 

But the coup leaders clashed with the interim president, retired colonel Bah Ndaw, and engineered a second coup in May 2021. Goita, who had served as interim vice president, was elevated to the presidency.

 

ECOWAS lifted some of the sanctions on Mali after the military rulers proposed a two-year transition to democracy and published a new electoral law. The country is scheduled to hold a presidential election in February 2024 to return to constitutional rule.

 

Honestly, coup is a perilous affair with death and destruction converged it. With this destruction and death, it is quiet surprising how often we go for coups in this country. Of all the coups, what have we benefited? From the beginning of time wars have raged on from generations to generation, shifting and changing from one reason to another. It’s easy to say humanity is a species that cannot do without it. With all the peace efforts, in the end only ruin remains. After all, the first coup that was recorded in the Christian Bible was in heaven itself. Where an angel called Lucifer tried to overthrow his creator.

 

Most times, I find it arduous to answer why these coups are fought. When the dust settles, the fire dies and the soil of the earth is no longer drenched with blood, we then ask why it happened in the first place. For instance in Sierra Leone, we are still asking why the 11 years’ war? The simple truth is we only have bits and pieces. Most say the problem behind it is out approach to everything. How we feel for there to be peace there must be conflict, how we feel we most sacrifice a great deal for the peace of the future, a peace that doesn’t last forever.

 

It’s crazy how we evolved from swords and shields to Atomic and nuclear bombs. Weapons so powerful that we now hang in the balance of fear and peace. Ultimately, we should ask ourselves, what are we fighting for? These, resources and lands, are they really worth the blood shed? Our beliefs and greed are they really worth the millions of death?  Our quest for expansion and power are they really worth the end of humanity itself?

 

When we ask ourselves these questions, we realize that we are just killing and fighting for things that don’t really matter, no matter our differences in kind we are all still human beings and that should count for more than just race but unity.

 

So before we pick up our guns and bombs and start fighting one another, let us think about the future, let us remember that death and destruction is all that proceeds from it and if we remember those we love the most, we’ll realize that peace is the only way to keep peace. To keep the history between us clean and still try to erase the darkness which we build between ourselves in the past. We only share one home, one planet and it’s all we have. Once we destroy it, we destroyed who we are.

 

Wars can have a devastating impact on the economic development of countries. Countries experiencing civil war will see a collapse in tourism, foreign investment and domestic investment. It can lead to shorter life-expectancy and lost GDP. A report entitled “Africa’s missing billions” (Oxfam, 2007) estimates the cost of war in Africa has been equal to the amount of international aid. A country like the “Democratic Republic of Congo” has experienced a particularly difficult war, which besides causing the deaths of about 4 million people, has cost it £9bn, or 29% of its gross domestic product. The report also notes that ongoing war and increased availability of weapons can lead to increase in rates of armed violence and organised crime.

 

Putting aside the very real human cost, war has also serious economic costs – damage to infrastructure, a decline in the working population, inflation, shortages, uncertainty, and a rise in debt and disruption to normal economic activity.

 

From some perspectives, war can appear to be beneficial in terms of creating demand, employment, innovation and profits for business (especially when the war occurs in other countries.) However, when we talk about the ‘economic benefits’ of war we must be aware of the ‘broken window fallacy‘ – when we spend money on war, this creates demand, but also it represents a huge opportunity cost – rather than building bombs and rebuilding destroyed towns, we could have used this money to improve education or health care.  For example, the opportunity cost of the Iraq war was estimated at $860 billion by the end of 2009.

 

In many circumstances, coups and wars can lead to inflation – which leads to loss of people’s savings, rise in uncertainty and loss of confidence in the financial system. For instance, in the US civil war, the Confederacy struggled financially to meet the cost of the war. Therefore, they started printing money to pay soldiers’ salaries. But, as they printed money, the value of money soon declined. High inflation hits middle-income savers the most as they see the value of their savings wiped out.

 

All the past coups in Sierra Leone we have seen a rise in inflation because the economy was running close to full capacity, the high levels of government spending and shortage of workers saw inflationary pressures. This means that, during war, the economy can also experience cost-push inflation due to shortages of goods and services and rising price of raw materials like oil.

 

If a country is devastated by coups and the capacity to produce goods is sharply reduced, it can create the circumstances of hyperinflation as governments desperately print money to try and deal with the lack of goods. For example, with a devastated economy, in 1946, Hungary and Austria experienced the highest rates of hyperinflation on record.

 

SIERRA LEONEANS let us embrace peace!! Without peace, it will not be possible to achieve the levels of trust, cooperation and inclusiveness needed for societies to be resilient to shocks, manage disputes and adapt to changes in their environments. Can the president achieve his Big Five Game Changer, if there is no peace? You are and I know that it is certainly impossible.

 

In his article titled “The Attempted Failed Coup and the Drug Wars…”, a celebrated writer, Sheku Putka Kamara wrote: “Already, we have a whole lot of issues to settle. Let us therefore allow not others to get the better of already troubling situations.” Yes indeed!! So I duff my hat and say let us embrace peace because peace is the cornerstone for development. I rest my case!!

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