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On alleged plots against Buhari’s government

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A fresh alarm by the presidency alleging plots by persons and groups to bring down the Buhari government is, as may be expected, grave and very troubling to the masses of Nigerians who are already saddled with huge destabilisation of their lives over insecurity across the country.

What is more worrisome perhaps is the fact that the government alarm seems to have become a recurring decimal, without the government, upon all its official muscle, naming the perpetrators of these plots and bringing them to book accordingly. This trend, if not debunked, is capable of sending signals to the populace that the government is merely testing the ground.

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Over the past few months, agencies of government have hinted in one way or another of plots by persons and groups to destabilise the Buhari government. The latest claim came from the Presidency itself through the media adviser to the president, Femi Adesina.

In a high-faluting statement full of sound and fury, the spokesperson cited ‘‘unimpeachable evidence’’ that ‘‘disgruntled religious and past political leaders,’’ ‘‘disruptive elements,’’ and ‘‘agent provocateurs’’ were ‘‘recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians… with the intention of convening some sort of conference where a vote of no confidence would be passed on the President…’’. Adesina further alleged that the ‘‘misguided elements,’’ using ‘‘caterwauling’’ ‘‘artifice and sleight of hand’’ tactics, planned to ‘‘throw the land into further turmoil,’’ [and] ‘‘the country into a tailspin,’’ ‘‘wreak havoc on the government, sovereignty, and corporate existence which would compel a forceful and undemocratic  change of leadership.’’ These claims, coming from the highest level of government in a polity so riddled with crises, are weighty and worrying.

Incidentally, both the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigerian Army have, at different times, gone public with similar allegations of plots against the sitting government.  As far back as late July 2020, DSS had alleged that ‘‘some prominent personalities and socio-cultural groups’’ were using ‘‘divisive acts’’ and ‘‘inciting statements’’ to set ‘‘individuals, groups, and ethnic nationalities against each other.’’ One official or another of the organisation has also spoken of ‘‘subversive and unscrupulous elements [attempting] to cause a breakdown of law and order’’ (but) the Service is, without doubt, aware of these plans and their sponsors.’’ A few days to the last Christmas, DSS spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, alerted the public of ‘‘plans by some criminal elements to carry out violent attacks on public places …during the (2020) yuletide season with ‘‘the objective to create a general sense of fear among the people and subsequently undermine the government.’’ Early  this month of May,  the DSS cited ‘‘unsavory statements by misguided elements, unnecessary vituperations and activities by some religious and past political  leaders  who have either called for a forceful change of government  or mass action against it…(with) the objective …to cause  a disintegration of the country.’’

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Late October last year, while addressing staff officers and field commanders in Abuja, the then Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai, alleged plans to destabilise Nigeria by employing propaganda to discredit the military and the Federal Government. ‘‘We will not allow any force, elements, or destabilising agents in or outside… to set our beloved country on fire’’ he vowed. A few months later while decorating promoted senior officers, Buratai raised the same issue, saying that ‘‘some interests were making efforts to interact with certain personnel’’ and he warned that the army ‘‘will not tolerate any agent of destabilisation.’’ And most recently, the Acting Director of Defence Information, Brig-Gen Onyema Nwachukwu, reportedly issued a statement pledging that the Army ‘‘shall continue to remain apolitical, subordinate to civil authority, firmly loyal  to the  President and Commander-in-chief  of the Armed Forces…and [to] the  1999 Constitution as amended…’’

These grave allegations from the government give much cause for worry about the stability of both government and the state, and above all the personal safety of Nigerians. It is embarrassing too that such claims can be repeatedly put out in the public domain for so long without the claimants presenting to Nigerians hard and credible evidence such as names of persons involved.

Repeated claims such as the Nigerian public has been fed with tend to trivialise such a serious matter. Nigerians have too much to worry about already and these often publicised fears can only worsen their psychological condition.

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The DSS, as the primary domestic intelligence agency, has the authority and the power for the ‘‘prevention and detection of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria.’’ If this organisation has incontrovertible proof of plans to destabilise the polity, it should get moving to arrest and prosecute persons involved; unless it is raising some red herring, as opined by some opinion leaders including the Afenifere leader, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and the Urhobo Progress Union (UPU) spokesperson, Abel Oshevire.

Nigerians will oppose any unconstitutional change of government, for it is evidentially proven in this clime that such misadventure has not done the country and its people much good. So, if in truth there are persons or groups contemplating what the DSS, the Army, and the Presidency so copiously claim, they should unequivocally ‘‘Perish the thought!’’ The present system of government, imperfect as it is, gives enough opportunity for ambitious politicians to compete for the positions of their choice at the constitutionally appointed time; and also permits free expression of dissenting views in a democratic and non-violent manner.

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These claims, allegations and rumours arise at all because the government is failing spectacularly to fulfil its fundamental, basic constitutional obligation to the people. As Section 14(2)(b) tersely puts it ‘‘the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government…’’ Alas, extremely few Nigerians will attest that their government meets their needs in these two respects.
 
In a Nigeria well-governed, where the people are safe and are gainfully employed, where they are able to legitimately create and acquire wealth, these cries of the wolf by the government would be most unlikely. Indeed, whoever was thinking of an illegal change of government would know that a largely contented citizenry would rally in support of their elected government. The idea would be dead even at the stage of conception.

The only antidote to the instability of a polity is good governance that addresses the basic needs of security and welfare of the people. If the Buhari administration imbibes this, there will be little cause for it to fear ‘‘plots’’ against it.

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BuhariFemi AdesinaNigeria
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