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Military may strike remarks by senators


Senator Ben Murray-Bruce

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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Ben Bruce
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