The Presidency recently alerted the nation over an alleged subliminal plot by some unnamed past leaders and foreigners to stage a coup d’état in the country. A statement by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, further indicated that the Department of State Services (DSS) had warned of sinister moves by misguided elements to wreak havoc on the government, sovereignty and corporate existence of the country.
“Championed by some disgruntled religious and past political leaders, the intention is to eventually throw the country into a tailspin, which would compel a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership,” the Presidency claimed. It warned of the consequences of such a plot.
Coming at a time of heightened insecurity in the country, the allegation must not be treated with levity. The military hinted about a similar plot recently. It pledged its loyalty to President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it had no intention to overthrow his government. The Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, said the army “shall continue to remain apolitical, subordinate to the civil authority, firmly loyal to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the 1999 Constitution as amended.”
However, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and some civil society and socio-cultural groups have debunked the coup alarm. The PDP particularly described the allegation as frivolous and a resort to blackmail. The leader of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, reportedly said the coup alarm was a diversion. He urged the government to investigate and arrest those involved if it knew there was a plan to stage a coup.
Perhaps, the doubt being expressed in some quarters is because it has become customary for the DSS to raise the alarm whenever there is tension in the country. In June 2019, the security outfit raised the alarm over alleged plot by those it described as subversive and undemocratic elements to incite disaffection and violence in Nigeria. In July last year, the DSS took a similar action, claiming that there were plots by some prominent personalities and groups to destabilise the country. And in January this year, the DSS again alerted the nation to an alleged criminal plot to incite religious crisis in some parts of the country, such as Lagos, Kano, Kaduna, Sokoto, Plateau, Oyo, Rivers and states in the South East.
Similar doubts trailed the recent alleged coup plot in Jordan. King Abdullah had directed the country’s army to place his half-brother and former Crown Prince Hamzah under house arrest for the alleged plot. Dozens of Hamzah’s associates were also detained. The government claimed the alleged coup plotters had the backing of an unnamed foreign party and that the security services were able to nip their alleged seditious activities in the bud. However, some observers believe what was termed coup plot could very well be a royal family feud.
No doubt, military takeover of government is no longer in vogue in Africa, nay the world. The military in Myanmar, which overthrew the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi, on February 1, 2021, has not known peace since then.
The junta led by Min Aung Hlaing is still battling mass protests and opposition against its rule across the country and beyond. The international community has condemned the events in the South East Asian country. Also, the United States, United Kingdom and the European Union have imposed sanctions on the military officials. The worst the military government has done was to kill hundreds of people and detain, among others, Suu Kyi and members of her National League for Democracy (NLD) party.
We believe that no attempt to take over power by force in Nigeria will succeed. This is because coup making is not a tea party. Military rule is also an aberration. We have had almost 22 years of uninterrupted democracy. It will be a big setback to have a violent overthrow of the government at this point in time.
Nigerians should be patient enough to use the ballot box to remove any bad and ineffective government. By next year, Nigeria will start preparations for another general election which comes up in 2023. Whoever is not happy with the performance of the incumbent government should wait for that period to exercise his or her franchise.
The government should stop raising the alarm if it is not able to name those involved in the alleged sinister plot to overthrow it. Coup plotting is a very serious matter that ought to be thoroughly investigated. We hope that the government is not taking criticisms as plots to cause insurrection. It should take such criticisms in good faith. Except it has concrete evidence, it should avoid using the coup scare as an excuse to target members of the opposition, political enemies and critics of the administration.
If there is adequate security, sound economy, and good governance, there may not be any need for the coup alarm. Hence, the government should worry less over the coup scare and face governance squarely. It must ensure that it fulfills its promises to Nigerians such as revamping the economy, tackling insecurity and curbing corruption. But if it is sure of any coup plot, let it name, arrest and prosecute those involved accordingly.