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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Nigeria: Rumours of coup…


“And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet…” (Matthew 24: 6) .

As Nigerians are drenched in cries of agony, so is the air also thick with rumours of coup d’état or military take-over. Those not marching on the streets and shouting “ebi n pa wa” (We are hungry!), like the multitudes that have done so across the country, are, like my brother, Azu, in his latest column, complaining about the heat wave and the parlous state of power supply. I sleep in a room that is naturally well aerated; still, anytime the air ceases, sleep takes a flight. To divert sleep time to work time becomes impossible with no power supply. Running generators in the middle of the night is simply unconscionable and without electricity to charge the batteries, the inverter cannot work. The cost of the other alternative, solar powe, has shot through the roof!

Like another of my PUNCH-day colleagues, Godwin Nzeakah, aka Ogbuefi, would say, it does not rain for hapless Nigerians, it pours! Yet, we saw it coming but neglected to act. Crying after the head is off, bolting the stable doors after the horse has bolted and crying after the milk has been spilled is all we are doing now. Worse are my fears that we may recourse to taking rash decisions in our habitual manner of cutting corners and adopting fire brigade approaches to matters that demand painstaking fidelity with due process.

We risk going back into the thick forest of jackboot dictatorship that we exited at great pains and sacrifice; we shall be making our situation worse should we resort to another military take-over at this point in time. The military top brass has spoken out forcefully against coup but can we take their word for it? Are they themselves not at risk should their juniors decide to upturn the apple cart?

It has been said that the antidote to military coup is good governance: Can anyone say, in good conscience, that this country has witnessed good governance since the present civilian rule began in 1999? Rather than improve, things have gone from bad to worse; the worst of all the civilian governments being that of Muhammadu Buhari. The incumbent, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is stuck in the miry clay that Buhari engineered deliberately or otherwise, leading to the immense suffering that Nigerians experience today.

Unfortunately, there is no easy and fast way out of the quagmire, even though the patience of Nigerians is already running thin. Agent provocateurs are cashing in on the situation mostly to serve selfish interests. A population that worships the belly and that only knows of temporary pleasure, like biblical Esau, wears their ignorance like a badge, harassing every voice of reason and ready to cudgel every contrary opinion into submission.

If democracy teaches us anything, it is that the majority is not always right. Interestingly but also ironically, the tyranny of the majority has been one of the most damning drawbacks of democracy. So, then, did the German playwright, Henrik Ibsen, posit that the strongest man is he who stands alone. Oftentimes, we need the services of a telescope to differentiate between democracy and mob action.

Strong leaders, ready to stand alone and chart the course, however unpopular, have made the most profound impact on our world. Galileo, for instance, was sent to the inquisition for affirming that the Earth was spherical and not as flat as a trencher that the authorities had claimed it to be. Had Martin Luther not dared to be different, what would our world have been without the Reformation?

My message to Tinubu is: Dare to be different! Listen to the people but all the same chart the course that will take Nigeria out of the dark tunnel engineered by Buhari and his cabals. Speak to us more often. Explain your actions more plainly. Be more forthright in exposing the shenanigans of the past. No cover up of Buhari or anyone for that matter! On your own part – and on the part of your family members – be more sensitive to public perception of your actions. While you need to take all the precautions that need to be taken to contain the rumour of coup, don’t let clip your wings.

Despite the rash of coups around us in the West African sub-region in recent times, military take-overs have generally become an aberration. In Nigeria especially, the military not only destroyed the fabrics of our society, it also overstayed its welcome.

From the first military coup that was Igbo-dominated and one-sided in the political leaders and military officers it executed; to the first military government led by another Igbo-man, Gen. JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi, that destroyed our federalism and instituted centralism and military-style command structure; to Yakubu Gowon whose rash decisions (together with Chukwuemeka Ojukwu’s) led to civil war and the subsequent frittering of our oil wealth; to Murtala Muhammed who destroyed the Civil Service with his rash “with immediate effect” dismissals and retirements; to Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration when Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) was allowed to collapse and, pronto, surfaced Obasanjo Farms Nigeria (OFN); to Muhammadu Buhari whose draconian rule led to retroactive executions, the trampling of the people’s fundamental human rights and the disappearance of huge oil windfalls; to Ibrahim Babangida whose SAP began the destruction of the Naira, who introduced corruption and the settlement syndrome, and who destroyed seniority and esprit de corps in the military; to the vilest of them all, Sani Abacha, who stole this country blind and who wasted MKO Abiola away in detention and, finally, to Abdulsalami Abubakar whose administration has the blood of Abiola on its hands – we have had more than enough of military rule. No more! Perish the thought of military take-over if no one wants Nigeria to perish with it!


Nigeria is not beyond the stage of being salvaged. Dissolution of the country is not a remedy. What needs to be done is re-engineer the economy and security as is being done presently: Establishment and empowerment of farm guards to protect farmers on their farms before establishment/operation of state police; and each state governor should embrace farming by investing heavily in farming. Also, the country has adopted all-season farming, which would not only boost food production but also boost export of food and food products. Increased power supply and extraction of mineral resources will also aid economic growth. I disagree with Prof. Banji Akintoye on “Nigeria now needs the courage to Dissolve Peacefully”. Definitely, that is not the way to go. God bless Nigeria! – Kola Oloye.

Thank you immensely for this all-revealing attempt to cow other segment of the country to forced submission to Fulani “supremacy” Now is the time for the other segments of Nigeria, namely, South-East, South-South, South-West and North-Central to free themselves from the Fulani’s firm grip. It is now or never! it is, indeed, sad that the Fulani ethnic minority have been allowed to harass, threaten, maim, rape, kidnap, kill and burn down homes and farmlands. There should be concerted efforts to free our people from their stranglehold as fast as possible. – Wale Ojo.

Sir, Prof. Akintoye’s narrative is obviously anti-Fulani, as if no other ethnic group participates in the wanton looting and destruction of Nigeria! I find it very hard to accept this skewed and scary narrative. It insults my being and my education. With due respect to the Prof., whom I hold in high esteem, I find it difficult to accept his suggestion of break-up as the final solution to Nigeria’s numerous challenges. My belief is that Nigeria will rise again when we have good, selfless and honest leaders who will lead by example and not by precepts. Forgive me, Sir, this attempt at scare-mongering and demonizing all members of an ethnic group CANNOT work. Determined and forward-looking, we can bring Nigeria out this mess, which has an expiry date! – Dipo Onabanjo.

Pa Akintoye is right to some extent. Things were not wholesome, particularly in the Southwest, prior to the military coup of January1966: Witness the “Wild, wild West”!

The NNPP, which was led by the late Chief SL Akintola, was in tandem with the Northern NPC. The Agbekoyas were protesting the rulership of the then Western Region. Many houses were destroyed in cities and towns in the region. The military take-over that followed was, however, lop-sided. Political leaders in the North, West and Midwest were eliminated while no political leader in the East was touched. This led to a counter-coup which installed Gen. Gowon as the military head of State. A number of counter-coups followed, bringing many Northern soldiers to the pinnacle of rulership; the good, the bad and the outright ugly. The centralized political system which the military used and left for us to follow appears to have many flaws. Nigeria will do well with some regional self-rule. This helped to achieve some development in the First Republic. It will allow for fair competition amongst the regions. Each region will develop at its own pace.

The old Western Region competed favourably with some of the developed countries like France. This, without the petrodollars! Nigeria was able to fight the civil war successfully without borrowing and without access to petroleum money. Nigeria can be great and she will be great! Pa E. K. Odeleye.

I really appreciate your unbiased writings… Thanks a lot. Why is Tinubu defending Buhari? You are very correct; there is no substantial policy to make life better for the masses. Tinubu regards the lawmakers’ welfare as more important than the welfare of the populace. May l even say that he is taking the masses for granted. IMF loans and forex deregulation are unprofitable. Cost of production is on the increase. Bandits, kidnappers are back. Many cannot go back to the farm. Dollar to Naira instability, corruption in the banks as traders hardly get Dollars from the Banks. A thought comes to my mind: Is Tinubu waiting for re-election before he begins to perform? Corruption is still as it was, if not on the increase. You once said those that should be behind the bars are the untouchables e. g. Betta Edu. My question is that despite all of these, why does the president look unperturbed? He used to employ marketing organizations to get statistics on followership for permutations during elections: why can’t he do similarly now to benefit the masses? -Babatunde l. Daodu.

One of the areas which I have, through personal observation and experience, faulted the President over, is that he acted hastily in the removal of petroleum subsidy. Right, the President was not part of former President Buhari’s government but he fell cheaply for the booby trap of the ex- President. If not, why did President Buhari, throughout his eight-year tenure, fail to remove the controversial subsidy? He was clever by half in shifting its removal to the in-coming President. Tinubu needed more time to observe, study and plan before announcing subsidy removal. Nigerians were cajole at the inception of the Buhari government that there was fraud in the subsidy regime by President Jonathan. But it later became obvious that the alleged corruption was a child play compared to what ex- President Buhari took Nigerians and Nigeria through for eight years. Buhari should be called upon to explain how his government ran the country. This is what obtains in saner climes. – Badru Afolabi-Shittu

* Former Editor of PUNCH newspapers, Chairman of its Editorial Board and Deputy Editor-in-chief, BOLAWOLE was also the Managing Director/ Editor-in-chief of THE WESTERNER newsmagazine. He writes the ON THE LORD’S DAY column in the Sunday Tribune and TREASURES column in New Telegraph newspaper on Wednesdays. He is also a public affairs analyst on radio and television.

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