Coup Scare: Ex-Army Generals Warn Nigerian Politicians


LAGOS SEPTEMBER 2ND (NEWSRANGERS)-To halt the resurgence of coups on the continent and avoid it in Nigeria, some retired generals have said the only way out is for democratically elected leaders to respect the constitution and ensure good governance.
They noted that while coups were not desirable, people no longer wanted to be taken for granted.
Speaking with Saturday PUNCH, a former Chief of Defence Staff, General Alexander Ogomudia, stated that the coups were a reflection of how the elected leaders ruled their countries.
According to him, no one would have any moral justification to support a coup against a government that keeps its campaign promises and has respect for the country’s constitution.

He stated: “You can’t use what happened in Gabon as a template for what happens everywhere else. For Niger, have you seen the pictures of the country at all? For how many years has France been collecting nuclear materials from that country, and the country is one of the poorest in the world?
“In my place, we have a saying that if you do anyhow, you will see anyhow. So, whoever was ruling Niger, if he was teaming with foreigners to ruin their country; that is doing anyhow. So, if you have a coup now, it is seeing anyhow. I have no advice.
“Every politician knows what is right. Before resuming office, don’t they campaign? If they stick to those promises why would they have a problem? If I say this road to your place is not good, I will fix it for you, and when I get there and I fix the road, will anyone have the moral justification to support a coup against such a person? Those who are planning coups have their reason for planning it, I can’t speak for them.”
Also, Brig.-Gen. Phillip Ashim, said the way to stop coups in Africa was to ensure that the people enjoy good governance. “That is common knowledge, it is good governance. That’s all,” he added.
Similarly, a former Commander, 1 Division, Brig.-Gen. John Sura (retd.), in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, said for coups to stop in Africa, leaders must respect their constitution and democratic structure.
He added: “There are some basic things African leaders should pay attention to. First, the constitution of every nation must be highly respected. People agitate when they are disenchanted or there is an unacceptable change in the constitution. If the people enjoy good governance, I believe there will be no coup.
“If you look at the developed nations, no matter what happens, they respect their electoral laws and other laws, so people feel at home that their interests are protected. Once countries are well governed and there is respect for the rule of law, we will not be talking of a coup.”
A former Commander of the Special Task Force, Operation Safe Haven, Major General Henry Ayoola (retd.), also noted that the coups were instructive enough for politicians to change their style of governance. He added that the practice of democracy should be done in accordance with the rule of law and that the surest safeguard was governance.
He stated: “Let’s practice true democracy and not just civilian rule. Let it be that it is a democracy where we keep to the rule of law, follow due process and procedures or the tenets of democracy. That is the surest way of keeping soldiers out of governance.
“The answer is for the politicians to play the game according to the rules. I give soldiers no reason and no excuse to tamper with the democratic rule. Let us practice democracy.”
He said further that the style of governance on the continent had entrenched impunity such that people don’t like processes and procedures. “We want to do what we like, when we like it and how we like it; that is what is playing out,” he stated.
“I mean how do you explain the Gabon case where the father spent about 27 years ruling the country and the son came spending another 13 years and he just won a fraudulent third term, tampering with the constitution? The best way is not to give the room for it. I don’t like to discuss the issue of looking up to the international bodies to solve our problems for us. It is a shame that we cannot rule ourselves.”
It would be recalled that the continent witnessed its latest coup and the second one in 2023 on Wednesday when some military personnel in Gabon seized power and placed the ousted President, Ali Bongo, and his family members under house arrest. Gabon is in Central Africa.
After the forceful takeover, which brought to seven the number of coups on the continent within the past three years, the soldiers announced the annulment of last Saturday’s presidential election that renewed Bongo’s prolonged rule, bringing to an abrupt end the Bongo family’s 56-year rule in the country.
Ali’s father, Omar Bongo, ruled the country from 1967 to 2009, and after his death, his son took over and remained in power until Wednesday.
About one month earlier, some soldiers in Niger Republic on July 26, 2023, also seized power and placed the ousted President, Mohamed Bazoum, under house arrest. The junta has since asked for a three-year transition period, which the Economic Community of West African States rejected, insisting that the junta should return the country to democracy or be forced to do so by its task force. Niger is in West Africa.
Also, on January 24, 2002, the military in West Africa’s Burkina Faso ousted the then President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, while soldiers in Sudan, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, sacked the civilian rule in place in the country and arrested political leaders while declaring a state of emergency. Sudan is in North Africa.
About two years ago, September 5, 2021 precisely, the then President of Guinea, Alpha Conde, was sacked by the military and was replaced by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya. After his sacking, he wasn’t declared “free” by the military until April, 2023. The junta promised to return the country to civil rule by the end of 2024. Guinea is also in West Africa.
Prior to this, Mali, also in West Africa, witnessed two coup within a year. On August 18, 2020, the then President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was ousted by the military and a transitional leader installed. But by May, 2021, about nine months after, the military arrested the President and the Prime Minister, after which they inaugurated one of them as the transitional President. They also promised a return to democracy in 2024.
Independent of these, the military also retained its hold on power in Chad after its President, Idriss Deby, was killed on the battlefield on April 20, 2021. His son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, has been in power since then despite a promised two-year transitional period. Chad is in Central Africa.
Out of the seven countries, West Africa, where Nigeria belongs, has recorded four coups, which is the highest; Central Africa has recorded two while North Africa recorded one. (Adapted from a Saturday PUNCH report)
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Posted by on Sep 2 2023. Filed under National. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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