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The ominous coup alert



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LAST week, the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, announced, to the chagrin of not a few Nigerians, that some Northern politicians were beginning to hobnob with, and wheedle, some northern elements in the armed forces into hatching a military coup d’état to topple the current Administration in the event of Present Muhammadu Buhari  coup would be to prevent the incumbent Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, a Southerner, from taking over the office of President, which the North erroneously thinks has been zoned to them, Constitution or no Constitution.

The COAS then sounded a note of warning to all or any aspiring military politicians to resign their commissions and become full-blooded politicians; to desist from all acts of criminality and steer clear of politics. That warning was timely and pat: Any soldier that is politically-minded should resign his commission before getting embroiled in politics. Good and patriotic warning though the COAS’s alarm bell sounds, we feel that what appeared to be a warning to both the politicians and soldiers of northern extraction was weak-kneed and not strong enough. The domain of soldiers and other units of the armed forces are the barracks, and soldiers are sworn be loyal to civilian authorities, anywhere in the world. In Africa as elsewhere, coup plots have become antediluvian and militarism has been overtaken by democracy.

Besides, and more importantly, the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) forcefully provides in its section 1 (2) that “The Federal Republic of Nigeria shall not be governed, nor shall any person or group of persons take the control of the Government of Nigeria or any part thereof, except in accordance with the provisions of this Constitution.  Additionally, past military governments from 1966 to 1999 (with a four-year respite: 1979-1983) had run the country aground. Military interventions in politics for almost thirty years in Nigeria’s political history changed almost all the positive things that Nigeria stood for, both before and after Independence.

Military rigorism is the very antithesis of all existentialist principles and democracy, the fountainhead of a people’s fundamental human rights. Of the eight military coups d’état that this country has had the ill-luck to witness since Independence, seven of them were hatched by the North, producing military leaders that almost ruined this country beyond redemption. Northern politicians are at it again, wooing their soldiers to topple a democratically elected government for ethnocentric, political and religious reasons. And we have the sense of déjà vu: last time President Ya’Ardua passed on, the northern oligarchs kicked up a shindy, and made the nation-space ungovernable for his Southern successor. But for the iron resolve of Nigerians that nothing like a coup would ever be tolerated in this country again, there would have been a coup between 2010 and 2011.

ALSO SEE: Uproar over call for Buhari’s resignation

Today, the “Federation of Nigeria” has become the Unitary State of Nigeria, no thanks to the military and their Constitution! Revenue allocation by derivation or fiscal federalism as enshrined in the 1960 and 1963 Constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is now a thing of the past; in its place, is revenue sharing according to need and expanse of land! Military coups in Nigeria are the same as military coups everywhere: they are extortionist and a rape of democracy, which is why it is generally agreed that the worst civilian government is far and away better than the best, the most benevolent military regime!

That a coup d’état may be hatched by some northern soldiers at the instance of some northern politicians did not come to us as a surprise. After all, as we write, all the security apparatchiks, ranging from the Chief of Army Staff, the National Security Adviser to the Chief of Air Staff, Inspector-General of Police, the Defence Minister, Comptroller Generals of Immigration and Customs, the General Officers Commanding the various units of the Armed Forces, in this country are Northerners! There have been so much hues and cries against this nepotistic arrangement, to no avail. This is why we are persuaded that the warning by the COAS is hypocritical.

But whether the warning is genuine or hypocritical, a powerfully empanelled Judicial Commission of Inquiry should be instituted immediately to investigate this “rumour”, identify the politicians who tried to wheedle some soldiers into rebellion and the soldiers so wheedled, and arraign both groups before a court of law for treasonable felony.