New Telegraph

Which Democracy Is Nigeria’s Military Defending?

“Under the cover of the elections, a violent coup was prepared in the country.” ––Stepan Sukharenko

“Comment is free, but facts are sacred” is a coinage from Charles Prestwich Scott, editor of the Manchester Guardian newspaper for nearly 50 years, prescribing the importance of newspapers as unbiased reporting of facts devoid of opinion. Until the military authorities put their foot in it, the recently reported coup plot story in Nigeria was a mere rumour. With it came a new definition of evil. Evil is the new name for detractors wishing the Federal Government dead by coup d’état. These “naysayers” (apologies to the President himself) will be exorcised like a demon. Is it surprising the baptismal name for coup admirers did not come from men of God but from the military high command? The Chief Defenceman General Christopher Musa said, “People making such calls for a military takeover do not love Nigeria. “We want to make it clear that the Armed Forces of Nigeria is here to protect democracy.

“We all want democracy; we do better during democracy, and so, the armed forces will continue to support democracy.” “Those advocating for a coup d’état are adversaries, who do not have the country’s best interests at heart. “Anybody calling for anything other than democracy is evil and does not wish us well. “We can see that with democracy, a lot of things are happening in Nigeria. Yes, we are going through a trying period, but in life, nothing is 100 percent.” Not all will agree with the Chief of Defence Staff, General Musa’s assertion, but as the sheriff in charge, his advisory can only be ignored at one’s peril. There are two things successive Nigerian democratic governments detest being said or heralded publicly for whatever reason. One, no Nigerian government wants to hear about a coup discussion even if casually or for academic purposes. Two, they also dislike talking about dividing the country for whatever reason.

It’s like sacrilege calling for a coup or division of Nigeria. None is a negotiable option for every government. The reason is that either of the two means a sitting government is toppled or the size of its territory is reduced. They also fear restructuring because they do not know where that leaves their selfish interests. No government tries to give an ear to the points raised by these divergent schools of thought. All you hear is a zombie-like order, don’t talk about it. Sunday Igboho called for the Yoruba nation out of Nigeria; the Muhammadu Buhari government pursued him until he was jailed in another country. Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and his Indigenous People of Biafra called for a referendum to determine the status of Biafra out of Nigeria and the same regime chased him into exile, pursued and caught up with him in another country, and in 2021 forced him to Nigeria and put him in prison.

Even when the court released him, this government that claims to be a Democrat was still afraid of giving Kanu freedom. Yet, the points Igboho and Kanu are making keep resonating with government after government. Despite the intimidation and harassment of those who say those words tagged evil, abomination, and sacrilege, their causes have remained an undying echo that kept resonating many years after and despite its suppression. What is a coup? The ordinary definition is that a coup is the abnormal seizure of governmental power. In this case, who are the coup plotters? Anyone calling for a forceful seizure of political power is evil. So says a pro-democracy Nigerian military. The definition did not say which type of seizure, military or forceful revolution. But because of our background as a people, we are more familiar with military coup d’etat. That is when the military, leaving its primary duty of securing the territory of the nation, turns its weapons on the people, internally forcing their way to hijack political power.

The other aspect of a coup is not evil in Nigeria, because military operatives are accomplices, only a military coup is evil at any time. They are the only people the defence chief means and termed as evil, the grab- and-run coup plotters are not evil. The Defence Chief’s warning is a welcome development but requires that the military research arm should nose into why such evil shares space with the people continually in this country. This will help the military better concentrate on their basic duties as enshrined in the Constitution. With such findings as to why coups are desirable to some people, the military will be in a position to advise the political leadership to do the needful to remove pressure from them and allow them to concentrate on their basic military duties. Democracy and its founders envisaged that there would be abuses by its operatives, hence the injection of certain inhibitions like the return for re-election, otherwise called the second term, and impeachment, which is outright removal from power through legislative means of an apparently failed government or copious violator of the constitution like forcing yourself on the people blatantly. If all these tenets of democracy are in place and running, the coup option, and forceful change of government will be unnecessary or non- existent. If the people’s franchise is well respected and the voter power is meant to prevail, the coup option will not be there.

While those calling for coups are evil by military understanding, by democratic requirements, anybody doing anything directly or indirectly to undermine the will of the people is also evil because it’s a forceful seizure of power by other means. The one who deploys a gun as a weapon in taking over power is as guilty of coup accusations as the one who deploys looted funds to grab power against the will of his people. Anybody, including military operatives undermining democracy directly or indirectly, is calling for a coup and should also be tagged evil. Anybody including electoral umpires making it impossible for democratic tenets to prevail to the letter is a coup caller. Anybody, either as a security or political operative, who thwarts the will of the people during elections and makes a loser to be the winner is a coup caller.

Any judge or justice who undermines social justice and turns the laws upside down to favour his ethnic, religious, and political party affiliations is calling for a coup and is evil. Therefore, evil is those who stood and watched as the country degenerated to a level where citizens were so despaired that they wanted anything but the government in power. If truly the military wants to fight for and defend democracy because they do better under civil rule as they claim, they should define the type of democracy they are defending. Is the military defending co-conspirators in looting or defending the will of the Nigerian people? Evil cannot be determined by those who indulge in it but by those whose uprightness and scruples are unhidden. German Nobel laureate and foremost pathologist, Gerhard Domagk, thinks correctly too that “Whatever contributes to the preservation of life is good; all that destroys life is evil.” Good governance through genuine political leadership of a country contributes to the preservation of life, those who offer otherwise destroy life and are evil.

If therefore coup callers in Nigeria are evil they must be seen to fall within the parameters outlined above and those declaring them evil must also be in an outstanding position. But if those declaring who is evil are themselves ineligible for sainthood even when they die, then, the name tagging and threat add no value to the nation’s search for good governance. What is needed at this precarious time in our nation’s history is sincerity of purpose not boot leakers and sycophants. In this country, we have seen traitors wear the garb of patriots and vice versa because the imposition of guilt means nothing really to those who feign loyalty. Let our search for evil be real and all-embracing, otherwise, our desire for renewed hope will end up a renewed shame. God help us.

Read Previous

NESG Rallies States for Economic Growth

Read Next

Global Aviation:Africa Attained Better Safety Record in 2023