Military may strike remarks by senators
Sir: Senator Ben Bruce in his recent intervention on the floor of the Senate, said the military may ‘strike’ if the current state of insecurity in the country is not arrested. The deputy Senate president had on two previous occasions made similar remarks.
The military high command had quickly denied any plan near or remote of scuttling Nigeria’s democracy, while the rumours have been described as denigrating and debasing the integrity of the armed forces.
The statements of the distinguished senators may seem alarmist, but not unreasonable in the present circumstances of the country. Nigeria is passing through trying times with the high level of insecurity, ethnic clashes, unemployment, ugly incidents at the National Assembly and corruption.
Despite these challenges, Nigeria is relatively doing well. Most of the states are stable and prospering. Lagos State is the second largest economy in West Africa. Cross River State, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Imo, Enugu, Abia, Ebonyi, Sokoto, Jigawa, all the states in the South West, and indeed most states in Nigeria are stable except for Benue, Borno, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Yobe and Adamawa.
As a matter of fact, past military interventions in trying times of this nature have been capitalised upon solely to loot the country’s treasures. However, the men and women of the Nigerian Armed Forces of today are well trained, disciplined, exposed and enlightened enough to realise the consequences of disrupting Nigeria’s democracy. The infighting, disunity, distrust, counter coups, military tribunals, executions which followed past military incursions into politics should serve as enough deterrence.
Going back to past events, the first military coup of 1966 and the counter coup led to the civil war with two million fatalities, the second in 1976 and 1983-84 crippled the civil service. Others brought other serious problems such as the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), the devaluation of the naira, destabilisation of the economy, corruption and loss of moral values.
Since the military is a large formation, there is the possibility that some ambitious officers with messianic mindset may try to upset the cart. In the unlikely event that such an act is being conceived, it should be perished. It is nevertheless necessary to sound a strong warning and convince such individuals or group of the dire consequences of taking this line of action.
Ambassador Akinkuolie Rasheed was director of Trade and Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs. What we should all fear is a popular uprising by the people, the Arab Spring type which swept across the Maghreb and the Middle East, and it could happen in Nigeria. It is therefore imperative that all arms of government should focus on meeting the needs of the larger population by providing good education, potable water, mass housing and other facilities which make life worthwhile for ordinary people in the society. The insecurity in the North Eastern part of Nigeria, religious intolerance, kidnappings are all as result of such deprivations, and a military or any forced intervention will not solve the problem, but rather aggravate it.
Ambassador Akinkuolie Rasheed was director of Trade and Investment, Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
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