As a matter of fact, only Felix Houphouet-Boigny in the Ivory Coast did not attempt at any point to break away from CFA. He was president from 1960 to 1993 in peace.
As a matter of fact, Houphouet-Boigny aided coup plotters in Ghana to remove Kwame Nkrumah, because Nkrumah provided financial support to Guinea’s Sekou Toure (remember him?).
Houphouet-Boigny also aided coup plotters in Benin to attempt to remove Kerekou in 1977, when Kerekou decided to adopt socialist policies for Benin. That failed.
Houphouet-Boigny was also suspected of (but never proven to) sponsoring the chaps who removed, and killed, Thomas Sankara in Burkina Faso. Those chaps are still in power till today.
So, what was common to all of these coup-plotters? Were they great economists? No they were not. As stated, Kerekou, after five years in power became more socialist in outlook.
For me personally, in an African context, socialism, (not communism!), is the way to go in order to lift the large numbers we have in poverty out of it. More on that later.
The main thing that was common with Eyadema, Bokassa, Lamizana, Kerekou, was that they all served France militarily. To me, it is clear that they were taking orders.
Between 1963 and 2013, there were 67 coups in 26 African countries. 16 of those countries are Francophone, and the coups always happened after a policy change.
So, what is this policy change that happens that suddenly means that the leader of a Francophone African country suddenly becomes “really bad” to his people?
This policy change, is the attempt to get out of the pacte colonial, the treaty that France has with these countries that ensures they remain slaves to France.
As we speak, 14 African countries, are by this pacte colonial, obligated to put 85% of their foreign reserve into the Banque de France, directly under the French Ministry of Finance!
In other words, that “colonial debt” that Sylvanus Olympio agreed to in 1960 is still being paid. Those who obey, eg Houphouet-Boigny, are made very rich. Those who rebel, are removed in a coup.
So how does this pacte colonial work? The pacte colonial has 11 components which all of its signatories must adhere to. And of course, they are in France’s favour:
First, they have to pay for the benefits of France colonization, ergo, they pay for infrastructure built by France during colonial times at a rate that France evaluated.
Second, their foreign currency reserves are deposited in the Banque de France under a complex arrangement, and without oversight from the client states.
Since 1961, France has held the reserves of the following CFA (West) countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo.
Since 1961, France has held the reserves of the following CFA (East) countries: Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon.
As part of this arrangement, 65% of the country’s foreign reserve is kept in a “savings account” by the French, with no recourse to ask exactly how much is being held.
Another 20% of the foreign reserve is paid back to France as, err, using a Nigerian bank euphemism, COT for the “pain” of the French managing your money.
The countries in question can only access the remaining 15% of their own foreign reserves in any given fiscal year, and if they need more, they have to borrow, from France!
The third component of the pacte colonial is that France has first right of refusal for any natural resource found in that country.
This is the reason why Niger has to sell all of its uranium, at a very cheap rate, to France. Note that 77% of France’s electricity is nuclear. Where do you think the uranium comes from?
That’s the reason that French troops are quick to get on the ground in any African conflict that threatens France’s interests. It’s all about the money.
That’s the reason that the Ivory Coast is claiming the oil that’s been found in Ghana’s territorial waters, the oil will become, French.
The fourth part of the pacte colonial is that ALL government contracts in those countries must be opened first to French companies. If the French don’t want, then China can come…
The fifth part of the pacte colonial is that these countries are obliged to send France an annual report of all their government activities. Or else, money won’t be released.
The sixth component of the pacte colonial is that these countries are forced to use the CFA Franc as their currency. EVEN after France moved to the Euro.
As a matter of fact, it was the move to the Euro that exposed the pacte colonial. Other European countries found out just how fat France was feeding from its former African colonies.
Sweden, Norway and Denmark have on many occasions tried to get the pacte colonial ditched, all their attempts have failed because France makes free money from it each years.
Former French president, Chirac admitted as much when he said, in 2008, “Without Africa, France will slide down into the rank of a third [world] power”.
The seventh part excludes the teaching of other languages in their schools aside from French. “Wir sind eine volke!” There’s no better way to keep a people mentally colonised.
Let’s put it this way, only 74 million people speak French as a first language. This policy limits access to the cross-fertilisation of ideas.
The eighth pact is military: France has the exclusive right to train these countries’ soldiers, and supply their militaries.
This is a particularly crafty part of it, because the troops are indoctrinated from conscript/recruit level, and the moment a leader starts having ideas, you guessed it, there’s a coup.
Think about it, all of the most recent coups in Africa, have been in Francophone countries AFTER a deal was reached with China.
The ninth part of the pacte colonial gives France the right to deply troops in these countries in order to defend French interests. It also gives them bases in these countries.
The tenth component of the pacte colonial forbids these countries from entering into military alliances without French approval.
This particular component explains why back in the 1990s, when ECOMOG was formed because of Liberia’s civil war, only Senegal sent troops from Francophone West Africa.
The Senegalese troops, 1500 of them, were withdrawn after six months because oga didn’t like it. Can’t have them mixing with those corrupt Nigerian troops you see…
This also explains why Nigeria has had to seek French help in the BokoHaram war. Truth is, our multinational force wouldn’t have taken off without French approval.
Finally, these countries are obliged by the pacte colonial to side with France in the event of a war anywhere it may happen in the world.
If for example, France had gotten involved in the Iraq war, these African countries would have had to send troops on French request. Can’t run away from it.
Sadly, I do not see this psychopathic relationship being broken any time soon. There are only two countries in Africa that have the potential to do it.
One of them, South Africa, is too far away from any Francophone country for it to be of immediate concern to them, and besides, they must deal with the SADC first.
The second, is Nigeria, and we are right in the middle of it. But two things have dogged us: bad, short-sighted leadership, and our own failing economy.
If our leadership, and I’m not just talking the current leadership, has any foresight, then we ought to know how to play the great power politics. But we don’t.
Second is that by our very size, we are a natural magnet for these countries. But that won’t happen until we get our act together in the real sense of the words.
Then, we need to genuinely fortify our military. There is no way we can play great power politics without having a strong military. Not possible.