Military Coup: In whose interest?

Nelson Ekujumi

Nelson Ekujumi

By Nelson Ekujumi

Flowing from the recent military coups in Niger Republic and of late Gabon, tongues have been set wagging in the public space on the propriety or otherwise of why coups occur on the African continent and this is a discussion that will continue to linger unless and until we introspect the issues dispassionately without bias.

Yes, when coupists overthrow a legitimate government, they come up with all sorts of reasons to make it seem as though they have come on a Messianic mission, but time reveals that the real reason for the putchists intervention is everything other than national interests.

The coupists blame corruption, mismanagement, bad governance and a plethora of other factors as the reasons for their intervention and sadly, the populace due to their bias, innocence, ignorance and quick fix mentality, fall for this sweet words akin to that of a suitor trying to win the heart of a new found love and on the spur of the moment without a second thought, jump into the fray and streets in solidarity support for a group of treasonable felons who rather than defending the territorial integrity of the country for which they swore allegiance, but have turned round to use the same arms and ammunition handed to them for that purpose, to rape the constitution and the will of the people.

One has watched how some persons and interests have tried to rationalize the recent Gabon coup on the basis of alledged flawed presidential election. Thus, one is forced to ask, is there no window in Gabon’s electoral system for aggrieved parties to go to court? We can also ask that under what provisions of the law of Gabon, did the military junta derive the powers to intervene and abort democracy on the basis of its description of an election as flawed?

To buttress this argument further, the successful and credibly conducted 2023 general elections in Nigeria can be examined from the viewpoint of allegations of the election being described as flawed by some of the candidates and parties who lost. They even went as far as calling for military coup solely on the basis of their grievance in utter disregard of the provisions of the electoral law which permits aggrieved parties to seek redress in court.

A case in point is a political party and its candidate who after losing the election fair and square, went on propaganda frenzy that it won the election, but was rigged out by the electoral umpire. Despite being cautioned by adherents of democracy to toe the line of decency and responsibility by availing itself of the window of the judicial process for redress as enshrined in the electoral law, this candidate party supporters embarked on an onslaught against democracy by organizing a rally to the environment of the Ministry of Defence headquarters in Abuja Nigeria’s federal capital with placards and calls on the military to abort democracy for the simple reason that their candidate and party lost an election in which they have a judicial window to seek redress with facts and evidence.

The slogan of this candidate and his party even as they continue to call for military coup is that they want to reclaim their stolen mandate. But shockingly, when this candidate and his party went to court as permitted by the electoral law, throughout the duration of the court proceedings, this candidate and his party, despite all the propaganda of claiming to have tons of evidences to buttress its allegations of electoral manipulations by the electoral umpire, was only able to produce 13 out of his 50 scheduled witnesses. In addition, he was unable to produce just one polling station form EC8A election result sheet out of the 176,606 polling stations nationwide in which elections were conducted to substantiate how he was rigged out by the electoral umpire as earlier falsely alledged.

Though, we concede that the presidential election petition tribunal is yet to deliver its judgement, but from the proceedings at the tribunal as observed, this party and candidate in his petition papers filed in court, changed from the propaganda of lie and blackmail that the election was rigged, to raising issues about the eligibility of the winner and his vice to contest the election and went on to demand the cancellation of the election. Note: In his prayers before the court, nowhere did he assert that he won the election because he knew he had no evidence to substantiate such claim, but rather is praying for the cancellation of the election, because in his estimation, the winner was not eligible to contest.

Looking at the above scenario in view of the present circumstances, how justified can we be to queue behind such an anti-democratic call for military coup on the basis of a false alarm of how an election was flawed, but when confronted by law to substantiate with facts and evidence, engage in a dummy dance? The resort to embrace military coup on the basis of flawed elections is untenable, rather we must work towards helping to put in place a virile and vibrant judicial resolution mechanism to address grievances without fear or favour.

Another school of thought have also come out to say that the Bongo family have ruled Gabon for several decades like a monarchy and that its part of the reason why the coupists struck and have enjoyed support from both within and outside of Gabon? The ground of this argument is shaky if we look at coups in other places, like Mali, Bourkina Faso and lately Niger Republic, can we say that the family of President Mohammed Bazoum in Niger republic has ruled the country for decades? Absolutely not, because President Bazoum only got elected into office for the first in March 2021 and just about two years in July 2023, he was militarily toppled.

On the claim of corruption being a factor responsible for military coup, while condemning corruption in all ramifications, this writer with all sense of modesty, can boldly assert that no institution is as corrupt as the military that festers this virus into every system of government once they assume political power. Incontrovertible evidences abound from the reigns of Mobutu Sese Seko of DRC, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida and Sani Abacha of Nigeria, Gnassingbe Eyadema of Togo, to mention but a few, who were fantastically corrupt military despots who assumed political power via coups and then turned round to manipulate their country’s constitution to transmute into civilian despots and sit tight leaders, though some succeeded, others failed.

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The issue of sit tight leaders manipulating the constitution to suit their ambition is an area we have to look into dispassionately in view of the cultural and socio political differences and circumstances of the African countries in order to chart the way forward.

Some other persons have also talked about citizens suppression as a critical area undermining democracy on the African continent, while we are worried about this negative development, it is important that as concerned citizens of the democratic world order, we should be thinking about ways to develop mechanisms that strengthens social and political institutions and people and make them resistant to political suppression and manipulations within the confines of the law, rather than justifying and supporting treasonable felons who have violated the law of the land, because like we use to say, two wrongs don’t make a right.

There’s no gainsaying the fact that military coups which was the fad in the 80′ and 90’s in the underdeveloped and developing countries, have been overtaken by the wind of democratization that has swept over the global atmosphere and of which Africa is part and parcel.

The calamity that military interventions portend for the peace, progress and prosperity of the African continent are too visible and dangerous to ignore because of the threat to humanity and global peace.

Military governments apart from violating the constitution bring with it all manner of social vices, tears and sorrow and embroil the country in turmoil for decades even after they have exited power. Several cases abound to buttress this indisputable fact. As a result of military intervention in politics, Nigeria fought a 30 months old civil war costing incalculable number of loss of lives, destruction of limbs, public and private property and psychological trauma that still haunts us till date, Liberia suffered similar fate, Sudan is presently engaged in a civil war because the military has intervened in its political life..

In Nigeria, our worst years as a people were under military despotic juntas, when the military that is distinguished as an institution of discipline, professionalism, national ethos, unity and cohesion became debased, defaced, bastardized, politicized, absolutely corrupt to the extent that at his pull out parade in 1993, a former Chief of Army Staff, late Lt. Gen Salihu Ibrahim lamented that under military dictator General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, “Our Army became an Army of anything goes”, where discipline, professionalism, national ethos and unity were thrown to the dogs.

For instance, when former military dictator Ibrahim Babangida assumed the reins of power after overthrowing another military government in 1985, Nigerians innocently rushed to embrace the Evil Genius who came with a gap tooth smile, but after eight years in power of supervising the most expensive democratic transition programme in human history, unprecedented corruption, maladministration, misgovernance, coupled with his treasonable annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential election which forced Nigerians to chase him away from office, today, Nigerians know better.

Let the truth be told, military juntas no matter the circumstances, must never be tolerated to come into governance because they are trained to defend territorial integrity and not to rule, as their stay in political office embroil the society in perpetual crisis of all kinds for which they don’t have the temperament and training to conquer.

In the long run, military rule ends up stifling progress, prosperity and does incalculable damage to national unity and cohesion and even the military comes out the worst for it and so one is forced to ask, that when military coup occurs, in whose interest?

Obviously, military coup occurs for everything but national interest and so it must be rejected in its entirety.

-Nelson Ekujumi, a political analyst writes from Lagos, Nigeria

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