[OPINION]: COUP IN GABON AND IMPLICATIONS FOR NIGERIA
As a political science student, in the Course titled Civil -Military Relations taught by Prof OBC Nwolise at the university of Ibadan, the civilian authorities were admonished to respect the rule of law and promote constitutional democracy.This is the only way to make military coups unfashionable.
As a student too, I knew that military coups followed a domino effect in Africa immediately after independence as newly independent African countries fell one after the other to coups .
Why? The newly democratically elected leaders only replaced the colonial masters in oppressive regimes. Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana was most disappointing.
Wave of democratisation swept across Africa after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the US tied aids to democracy, for instance, its African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA).
But there was a caveat too, like Kenya’s independence leader, Jomo Kenyatta wrote in his book, ” Not Yet UHURU”, democracy can only remain if the dramatis personae act according to its tenets and ideals.
But they never! Manipulation of the institutions of democracy became the order of the day. OBJ wanted a third term which didn’t succeed but succeeded in many African countries. In fact, Alhassane Ouattara just succeeded in this , in Ivory Coast that was thrown into a civil war over 15 years ago.
In Nigeria, APC supporters get scared when political theorists write on coups and and become agitated as if the field of Civil-Military military studies was created against them and must not be discussed.
I don’t see a military coup happening in Nigeria because nothing on ground to justify it. Economic crisis don’t necessarily lead to coups. The political leads to it mostly when the political space is closed against the opposition and the civil society. This kills discussion.
In Nigeria, the polls in 2023 were largely reflective of the support bases of the parties and it showed that more unity from the opposition could have defeated the ruling APC. That’s how strong the electoral system is now in Nigeria.
We need stability in Nigeria now not a military coup, however, I’m happy with the rash of coups in Africa because the politicians must now sit tight and face the task of providing democratic dividends. It’s must now be obvious to them that ordinary Nigerians won’t go to the street to defend democracy if the military struck because of the current economic hardship, and you need the people to withhold legitimacy from the military.
Once the citizens either perfunctorily or actively gives support to the military as the latter is being done in Niger and Gabon recently, that’s a bad epitaph for democracy.
I read an article from a senior media man talking of how impossible a military coup is Nigeria. Among his reasons, he said Nigeria is too big for some soldiers to plan it successfully and that we now have many media houses such that no single media house can be seized to announce a coup. I felt such argument suffers from error of reasoning and lack knowledge of those who plan coups and where they happen in the military. I wonder if Nigeria is now bigger than it was when coups happened and the military ruled us for many years. I also wondered if we had only one NTA stations at that time .
I don’t pray for such , but I think the APC sympathisers should focus more on demanding their people in government to deliver the public goods. The percentage of Nigerians interested in partisan politics is so few compared to the majority that want ONLY GOOD GOVERNANCE!
This is the only guarantee against military intervention, not shiboleths!
Seye Akanmu-Bode is a political scientist and author of the book, Ukulele 2023 Electoral Process, Issues , Outcomes and Bedlam