Unlike in Niger Republic and other African countries where the military recently took over power, Nigeria’s political class is currently in a mutually beneficial alliance of convenience with the military top brass which makes a coup highly unlikely or impossible*

The current wave of regime change sweeping across Africa has rekindled some form of ‘coup mentality’ among Nigerians. Some Nigerians think that the latest ‘coup wave’ that sliced through Sudan, Guinea, Mali, Burkina Faso, to our neighbours Niger Republic and now to Gabon, could be on its way to Nigeria. One of Nigeria’s neighbours, Chad is also under military rule as the late military head of state Idris Derby’s son General Mahatma Derby is still in power since April 2021 despite the promise to handover power to civilians ‘within two years.

In the last few years, there has been some sort of rude awakening through coups and counter-coups in Africa with the west African subregion being the hardest hit.

Clearly, these revolts by the military in these countries could be linked to a prolonged anti-France sentiments in the francophone countries within the Sahel which to all signals, has reached a boiling point. Mali has been hardest hit by the coup wave with two coups in less than a year: on 18th August 2020 and 24th May 2021.

Quite honestly and based on the seeming ‘radical inspiration’ from these virus of coups across Africa and the disenchantment of the populace with the state of affairs in Nigeria including the current economic hardship across the country, some analysts think there could be a military coup in Nigeria but alas! Nigeria will not experience any military coup in this era, not anytime soon. The main reason being that the political leadership in Nigeria dating back to 1999 has been able to strike a chord of camaraderie and is in absolute friendship with the military top hierarchy under an ‘alliance of convenience’ to govern the country. In essence, Nigeria’s military has been gradually courted by the politicians in certain ways and this has led to a gradual deregimentation of the military. When the military is derigimented, it looses its bite to stage a coup. All the same, it is fair to say that Nigeria’s military has some appreciable level of professionalism which can be seen from the great work that they are doing to decimate bandits, secessionists and other terrorists. Our military is fighting to keep us safe from bandits, terrorists and secessionists and all Nigerians have a moral obligation to salute and support our gallant military who are laying down their lives to keep us safe.

There are institutions such as the N.Y.S.C and several task forces created by the civil authorities that are headed by military men all in an effort by the political class to deregiment the military and make them ‘part of the action.

There are several task forces on security and other civil institutions that bring our military in close contact and collaboration with the politicians. It is not entirely wrong for our military to work with the politicians and civil authorities to secure the nation but when such alliance negates the professionalism of the military, it could be counter-productive. This is the reason why every now and then, the military top brass reminds its officers and men to ‘stay away from politics and stick to the ethics of professionalism.

The guiding principle of the military in any nation is to remain in the barracks and stay away from politics. The more the military is involved in politics, the less likely it is to uphold the virtues of professionalism. Democracy is a better option than military dictatorship which is not guided by the constitution. Military juntas are aberrations and should be resisted by all lovers of peace and development.

The Nigerian political class has several ways of striking a good relationship with the military. For example, the appointment of the chief of army staff (COAS) in recent years from the last three civilian administrations, has set a trend such that the COAS always comes from the tribe/region as the President and C-In-C as follows:

*Gen Abdurrahman Dambazau (2008 – 2010) – Late President YarAdua

*Gen Azubuike Ihejirika (2010-2014) – President Goodluck Jonathan

*Gen Kenneth Minimah (2014-2015) – President Goodluck Jonathan

*Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai (2015-2021) – President Muhammadu Buhari

*Late Gen Ibrahim Attahiru – (Jan 2021 – May 2021)-President Muhammadu Buhari

*Gen Farouk Yahaya – (2021-2023)- President Muhammadu Buhari

*Gen Taoreed Lagbaja (Jun 2023 to date)- President Bola Tinubu.

The leadership of the army (which by the way, is the melting point of any potential coup) is such that the President appoints his kinsman for easy communication even if it will lead to mass retirement of senior officers.

Coup plotters usually take advantage of resentments within the citizenry to strike. They gauge the mood of the nation before they strike. The Nigerien coup plotters have proven this fact as they took advantage of the massive resentment against the French in Niger to build a strong support base.

To all signals, most of the ingredients for coups – economic hardship, insecurity etc- are identifiable in Nigeria today but they will not lead to a coup.

Nigeria is not Niger or Mali or Guinea or Burkina Faso or Sudan or even Gabon. Nigeria is ALL these 6 countries combined into one. For one there is so much money on offer in government in Nigeria. All you need to do to hold on to power is make sure that everyone is involved. While we were growing up in the 80’s, we heard that the then military head of state Ibrahim Babangida has gifted cars to military officers. We can’t read between the lines in the 80’s but now we can. These are some of the efforts to deregiment the military, the results of which we are witnessing today.

Albeit one can say without fear of being misquoted that no military coup will happen in Nigeria in this era, it is also essential to remind the political leadership in Nigeria to be wary of something which can be more serious than military coups – PEOPLE’S REVOLT.

Most if not all the macroeconomic indicators today are clear that the citizens’ resentment against the government at all levels is at all time high: unemployment at 4.1% (high despite being based on a new technology by the NBS) and about 100 million Nigerians living in abject multidimensional poverty.

Unemployment is the most lethal weapon that can instigate mass action against the government hence everything humanly possible should be done to ensure that the government creates jobs for not only the youths but all Nigerians. Information and communications technology (ICT) can provide most of the skilled jobs required by Nigerians. The government should invest heavily in skills acquisition. The education system should be reformed to be based more on technical education and skills acquisition. Power sector reforms are critical to building a sustainable private sector economy hence the government should invest heavily in energy futures: renewable and unconventional sources of energy particularly solar power should be prioritised.

A stitch in time saves a generation.

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