Nigerian military and the repeated pledge to safeguard democracy

It is not that many choose to denigrate her. There is biting poverty across Africa. But that is not all. Corruption has also eaten deep into the fabric of our African society. It even seems the continent is still living in the stone age. Africa is economically underdeveloped, over six decades after most of its countries gained independence and sovereignty.

Diseases and pandemics have been ravaging many poverty-stricken citizens in the continent. One thing is responsible for the pervasive poverty, socio-political instability, diseases and pandemic, low literacy level, corruption, among other woes affecting our highly endowed, yet poor continent.

It is the lack of visionary leadership, or if you like, bad governance. And the lack of leadership is responsible for about 200 coups that have taken place in the continent since 1963.

Though Nigeria returned to democratic rule 24 years ago, her sister countries in the continent are not so lucky. In fact, Mali, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Niger Republic, Sudan, Chad and Gabon are under the clutches of military juntas.

In the last three years, seven coups took place across Africa, leading to the ousting of the aforementioned countries’ civilian presidents.

“By 2012, there had been over 200 coups and attempted coups in Africa from their various times of independence. There was a coup attempt every 55 days in the 1960s and 1970s, and over 90% of African states had a coup experience.

“In each decade between 1958 and 2008, according to one researcher, West Africa had the highest number of coups on the continent, accounting for 44.4%.

“Since 2010, there have been over 40 coups and attempted coups in Africa; some 20 occurred in West Africa and the Sahel (including Chad). Since 2019 there have been 9 (seven successful and two failed).

“Between 1958 and 2008, most coups in Africa occurred in former French colonies, as did six of the 7 since 2019. Similarly, 12 of the 20 coups in the sub-region since 2010 happened there,” part of an article published by The Conversation, in February last year, reads.

In a move that manifested its stance against military interventions, the Nigerian Armed Forces last month, and in the wake of the ouster of former President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger Republic, pledged its loyalty to civil authorities. It further described as “highly unpatriotic, wicked”, the call by some Nigerians for a coup in the country.

In a statement vowing to safeguard democracy in the country, Brig. Gen. Tukur Gusau, the Director, Defence Information, DDI, said: “…We detest any attempt by any individual or group to instigate the law-abiding Armed Forces of Nigeria to embark on any unconstitutional change of government in our country.

“We wish to state unequivocally that the military is happy and better under democracy and Will not get involved in any act to sabotage the hard-earned democracy in our country.

“The AFN under the leadership of the Chief of Defence Staff, General CG Musa is determined to ensure complete subordination of the Armed Forces to constitutional authority under His Excellency, President Bola Ahmed Tinubu and will not be distracted from its roles that are well defined in the 1999 Constitution (as amended)”.

Less than a fortnight ago, the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, General Christopher Gwabin Musa, during a visit to National Secretariat of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, again assured that the military remains committed to protecting Nigeria’s democracy.

The reassurances of the CDS and the Defence Headquarters, DHQ, at a time when the wave of coups is ferociously sweeping across Africa, are comforting. Nigeria’s democracy must not be truncated. Only enemies of the Nigerian State will wish for a military takeover of government, exactly 30 years after.

The country’s experience in the hands of military juntas is still fresh in our memories. Nigerians, under successive junta governments had near to zero freedom of expression and speech, even as enacted decrees supplanted the country’s constitutional laws.

While it is agreed that coups have never solved the problems of many African nations, the misrule and maladministration of sit-tight democratic leaders on the continent will continue to fuel the tide of military interventions.

Taking into cognisance the fact that democracy has almost become a way of life for Nigeria, Gen. Musa’s pledge on behalf of the Nigerian Armed Forces, inspires hope that the Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Gabon, among others’ fate will not befall us.

However, members of our political class have a lot to do, if the promise by the General Musa-led military will remain so. They may have performed below par, but they have a chance to redeem themselves. They should henceforth be concerned about offering service leadership to the masses.

They should also prioritise good governance, that will in the long run, fast track national development and prosperity for citizens. They should also put in place the necessary mechanism that will address poverty and unemployment among a large section of Nigerians, especially the youths.

That insecurity is still living with us should also worry them. Both the federal and state governments should speedily evolve effective Strategies in tackling security threats in the country. The military should step up their game as they continue waging wars against terrorists, bandits and other criminal elements.

Pledging loyalty to the nation’s democratic authorities is truly patriotic on the part of the Nigerian Armed Forces. But ridding the country of terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, oil theft and herdsmen horrors, among others, is what is more essential. That is what will endear the officers and men of the Armed Forces to the hearts of teeming Nigerians.

When there is security and reports of killings cease to become a major staple in our media, the nation’s democracy will not be threatened, in any way. And the military, perhaps, won’t be constantly reassuring citizens about the sustainability of our democratic evolution.

BY: Abdulsalam B. Mahmud

SOURCE: Blueprints

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