The Coup Debate, By Dele Agekameh
Already, some vocal people are saying that even if Buhari does not stand for re-election in 2019, not even Osinbajo would be eligible to contest except another Northerner is dragged into the race. This is the turn-by-turn thing that we ought to have out-grown as a nation if only we are determined to break loose from our debilitating past.
We are at it again. All of a sudden, the talk of a coup plot meant to truncate the country’s democracy is gaining currency all over the place. A coup d’état, a military putsch or whatever name it is called, is not new in these climes. The country has experienced so many of them, which have combined to drag the fortunes of the country backward since the jackboots first appeared on the political scene on January 15, 1966, 51 years ago. Since then, a good number of military insurrections have taken place, leading to avoidable bloodletting, destruction, maiming and killings.
Judging by the recent outcry of Lt. Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the incumbent Chief of Army Staff (COAS), after 18 years of unbroken democratic rule, the country appears to be tottering, once again, on the precipice of yet another senseless political upheaval. This is not something to be dismissed with a wave of the hand. After all, the COAS must have reacted to a spate of intelligence reports at his disposal indicating that a plot was in the offing.
Before now, nobody could have dared to discuss such a sensitive topic in the open for fear of running afoul of the law, especially in the area of being considered an accessory before the fact which, in the past, has sent innocent and unassuming Nigerians to their early graves. But now that the cat has finally been let out of the bag, it seems we all can discuss the issue freely without fear or trepidation.
It is possible that some people may have been gathering or going about incubating some sinister plots and making overtures to other people on how to acquire power through the back door. For instance, one of the major political parties in the country is seriously disorganised and weakened at the moment, so much that regaining the power it lost after 16 years of unbroken rule – 1999-2015 – does not look feasible anytime soon.
In this regard, all the party could probably do now is to pray for any form of destabilisation in the polity simply because it is apparent that some of the key players may never taste power again in the foreseeable future. Even contesting in the next general election that is two years away is not feasible at all. Yet, these people have stacked so much money away. And since there are so many evil people around who wouldn’t mind to put money down for this type of satanic adventure, your guess is as good as mine.
The security agencies should take adequate steps to forestall this type of senseless adventure. The fact remains that as long as people are ambitious, there will always be a threat like this. It is all about power; it is no longer about the North versus the South dichotomy. And because the country is so divided, more than ever before, makes anything like the subject under discussion, very possible.
But another school of thought believes that the current cacophony could as well be a dummy being sold to the public as it were. Otherwise, those who are hinting of a coup should have told us who the real perpetrators are. In other words, where are the coup plotters? It is clear that those desirous of changing government in Nigeria should only do so through the ballot box.
Today, it is only the thieving politicians, their coterie of hangers-on and some privileged few, particularly well-positioned civil servants, who are daily smiling to the bank while the majority of Nigerians are wallowing pitifully in a slough of poverty, hunger and misery.
In the past, the country witnessed a series of phantom coups, that were merely orchestrated in order to get at real or imagined enemies. What they simply say is: “We’ve been in the picture of a coup plot”. This is usually followed by mass arrests. This was the particular dummy sold to Oladipo Diya, a former Chief of General Staff under the dictatorship of the late General Sani Abacha. Diya naively bought the idea, started planning the coup while others he believed were part of the ignoble deal were busy recording him until the bubble burst. By the time he cried out, he was already facing a tribunal of death.
From the look of things, the recent re-organisation in the command structure of the Armed Forces could have been a major step to foil such a plot. Again, is it possible that someone is flying a kite? This question is germane in view of the fact that the issue of the president’s health has become quite topical in recent times. What some people are saying is that the president should throw in the towel and call it a day to allow him attend adequately to his failing health.
Right now, it appears the country is at a standstill. Nothing is moving. Even the issue of Yemi Osinbajo, the acting president appending his signature to the 2017 budget proposal recently passed by the National Assembly, has elicited intense debate. Though we are made to believe the acting president has all the powers to run the country in the absence of his principal, the truth is that he will not want to rock the boat. There are certain decisions he cannot venture to take in the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari because people are there to checkmate him. That is the more reason why he would thread with caution as long as Buhari’s shadow still looms large. So we should not decieve ourselves.
Beyond this, as mentioned in this column a few weeks ago, there is a groundswell of opinion among the northern elements in the country, that Buhari may have been poisoned. The rumour has traveled far and wide. And the foot soldiers are not relenting. Therefore, in the event of any untoward thing happening to the president today (God forbid it), large scale violence could erupt in certain parts of the country, all for no other reason than the pursuit of ethnic chauvinism. Regrettably, no concerted effort is being made by the government to douse this unnecessary tension.
Moreover, if you look at the configuration of the present government, you will discover that it is top-heavy with Muslims. Every key person is a Muslim. Nigeria is so divided that it is almost impossible to hazard a guess on what is really happening or could happen in the next minute. Already, some vocal people are saying that even if Buhari does not stand for re-election in 2019, not even Osinbajo would be eligible to contest except another Northerner is dragged into the race. This is the turn-by-turn thing that we ought to have out-grown as a nation if only we are determined to break loose from our debilitating past.
At the moment, almost all the security agencies are headed by Muslims. We need to pray for Nigeria because the signs that we are seeing are not good for the continuous existence and future of the entity called Nigeria. And for those who are saying that people will rise up and confront coup plotters, they need to do a rethink. Nigerians appear to have been pushed to the wall to such an extent that it has been practically demonstrated that no matter how hard you work, you are not likely to reap the full benefits of your labour.
Today, it is only the thieving politicians, their coterie of hangers-on and some privileged few, particularly well-positioned civil servants, who are daily smiling to the bank while the majority of Nigerians are wallowing pitifully in a slough of poverty, hunger and misery. Are these the type of people who will confront coupists with their bare hands? It is hoped that innocent people will not be roped in this time around in the name of foiling a coup. Come to think of it, where will the coup plotters start from especially now that Buratai has put his own loyalists all over the place? What this means is that he is probably about the only person who can possibly plan a coup now. May God help Nigeria.
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