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Is Nigeria immune to a military coup?

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By Abraham Adekunle

Tensions increase in the country as ECOWAS leaders activate standby force.

There is the likelihood that a military coup d’etat can still happen in Nigeria given the country’s egregious variant of democratic culture, the compromised nature of our judiciary, and the Nigerian people’s disenchantment with the prevailing socio-political cum economic situation of Nigeria. However, Nigerians abhor military rule in today’s world. It is considered only when there are no other options. The reason is that when the military rulers take over power in a country, they suspend the country’s constitution.

Those who have witnessed military regimes in the country as well as documented evidence have stated that the military rule the people with iron-fist, abridging their fundamental human rights. It is also widely acceptable that democracy is the best type of government in today’s world. It protects the people’s fundamental human rights and guarantees the mass participation of the people in deciding the leadership of their country. None of this is available in a military dictatorship. Soldiers rule with decrees.

Transition to democracy contributed to waves of coups in Africa.

Before the white people brought democracy to the peoples of Africa, the many different kingdoms in Africa had their unique pre-colonial governments. For instance, the northern part of Nigeria had the Emirate system, while the south-western part thrived on the Obaship type of government. The Igbos were known to be Communal. Then as African countries gained their independence, the British, French, Portuguese, Italian, and German people(s), who had partitioned Africa for colonial rule, introduced democracy to their colonial subjects. But this transfer of leadership spurred a series of military coups on the continent. This is sad as the battle for political liberation of African countries had started yielding positive results in the late 1950s with Ghana becoming a politically independent country in 1957.

Nigeria achieved self-rule in 1960. Zimbabwe was granted political independence in 1980, and many African countries banded together to fight for the dismantling of the Apartheid government in South Africa. Nonetheless, the leaders trampled on their citizens’ human rights and pillaged the financial treasuries of their country. So, the wave of military coup d’etat swept through the African continent, leading to the overthrow of some African civilian governments. In Nigeria, the military ruled Nigeria the longest. They held sway between 1966 and 1978, and between 1983 and 1999.

Current economic woes and disunity may spark something.

Thankfully, Nigeria has had twenty-four years of uninterrupted democratic rule, with one civilian government handing over political power to another civilian government, peacefully and seamlessly. This is remarkable. But given the ethnic and religious divide that exists in the country, there is no guarantee that a meltdown may happen soon. In addition, the current economic challenges that the country is facing contribute immensely to the odds. The sharp increase in the price of commodities in the less than three months of Tinubu’s administration amidst murmurs regarding his legitimacy are indications that Nigeria may be sitting on a keg of gunpowder.

On August 10, 2023, the president of the ECOWAS Commission ordered the deployment of the standby force to restore constitutional law and order in the Republic of Niger. This was made during a meeting of the organization on Thursday afternoon. In the words of Mr. Omar Alieu Touray, President of ECOWAS, “We direct the committee of defense staff to activate the ECOWAS standby force with all its elements immediately.” This is another source of worry for concerned Nigerians who project that the fallout of the war between a Nigerian-led ECOWAS force and the Nigerien military will have severe repercussions for Nigeria.

President Tinubu is not immune to military coup.

Against the background of the distressed economy, the disunity of Nigeria, and the February 25, 2023 presidential election litigation, Nigeria is sitting on a tinderbox. Any missteps taken by the judiciary or President Tinubu can spark off the masses’ revolt in Nigeria. When this occurs, it is an invitation for the military to stage a coup in Nigeria. This is because these protests often lead to situations of anarchy, just like the #EndSARS protests turned out to be.

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