Former president of Burkinafaso, Blaise Compaore ruled for 27 years. (1987-2014) Came to power after a coup d’état which ousted and led to the murder of then president Thomas Sankara.
Research reveals that only seven (7) of the world’s leaders have ruled longer than Blaise Compaore. Attempts to influence parliament to amend the constitution to extend his term of office was vehemently resisted by its citizens resulting in mass protest. This led to the parliament building being set on fire, the removal of Compaore’s statute, looting and the death of atleast three (3) people allegedly.
Blaise Compaore bowed to pressure and tended in his resignation as president and fled to the Ivory Coast. Report has it that Alhasanne Ouatarra warmly welcomed him and his family offering him a safe abode in his country.
Burkinafaso with the support of ECOWAS has set up an interim administration to stir the affairs of the state until November 2015 by which time elections are expected to be held.
What are the leadership lessons learnt by West Africa and the entire continent from happenings in Burkinafaso?
African Leadership Lesson Number 1
Knowing when to quit. Knowing when to say I’ve had enough and its time to leave the presidency. African history is replete with “stubborn” leaders who unwisely refused to quit the presidency when they had the opportunity and paid dearly with their lives and their freedoms. Laurent Gbagbo of the Ivory Coast and Samuel Doe of Liberia are just two examples. The presidency is an opportunity to serve your nation not a personal birthright that is eternal. Compaore some how got this right when he saw the pressure coming and realized it was time to quit. These are his words….."I declare that I'm leaving power," Compaore said in a statement. "For my part, I think I have fulfilled my duty."
Blaise quitting when he did saved the nation a lot of destruction of lives and property. He as well saved himself from being accused of massive human rights violation which might have landed him in the International criminal court in The Hague.
Leadership Lesson Number 2
Leaders of Africa must uphold the sanctity of their nation’s constitution. Attempts to tamper with it just to extend their rule or manipulate it in their own favour can prove catastrophic when things don’t turn out as expected. Blaise Compaore tried to make parliament amend the constitution to extend his rule. This singular act brought to an abrupt end his 27 years rule.
Leadership Lesson Number 3
Serve your nation well. Leave a great and outstanding Legacy that will transcend generations – and leave in peace when its time to do so. Successful leadership is not a function of the number of years in office but the positive impact you make in the lives of the people you chose to serve.
Leadership Lesson Number 4
Develop a leadership transition plan. Train able, competent and upright men who can takeover when you are no longer at the helm of affairs. Several African nations with long serving heads of states have had a tough time filling in the gaps or stepping into those leaders shoes when they abruptly leave the scene. Leadership transition is a process that is developed overtime. The problem with many African leaders is that – they think they will always be around no matter what. This causes a lot of problems for nations in the future since no deliberate succession plan have been put I place.
Leadership Lesson Number 5
When all is said and done – be ready to face the music and deal with your track record of leadership during your tenure. In the case of Blaise Compaore – what was his role in the murder of Thomas Sankara? How about the mysterious death of investigative journalist Norbert Zongo in 1998? When the presidential immunity runs out, those unanswered questions will have to be addressed. What ever your role was whether good or bad, guilty or innocent, former presidents and leaders in general must be ready to give account of their stewardship.
You ought to be mindful, that your past whether good or bad would have consequences on your future image and reputation.