Saturday, January 16, 2010
Coup! Coup! Linger In Nigeria
A military coup in 1966 brought Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, an ethnic Ibo from the Eastern Region, to power. However, he was killed a few months later, and was followed by Lt-Col Yakubu Gowon from the Christian North. Relations became extremely poor between the federal government and the Ibos of the Eastern Region. In 1967, the Eastern Region proclaimed its independence as the Republic of Biafra. Violence between the federal government troops and the forces of Biafra broke out. It is estimated that up to a million people died in the war, mainly through starvation, before the federal forces forced a Biafran surrender in 1970. Coup after coup Increasing opposition to continuous delays from Yakubu Gowon's over the holding of free elections led to his overthrow in a bloodless coup in 1975. He was replaced by Brigadier Murtala Ramat Muhammed who was assassinated a year later and followed by Lt-Gen Olusegun Obasanjo. In 1979, Nigerians voted for a new bicameral national assembly - the Senate and the House of Representatives. Alhaji Shehu Shagari, of the National Party of Nigeria, was elected President, and a civilian government took office. He was re-elected in 1983. However, by the end of 1983, the civilian government was overthrown by a military coup led by Major-General Muhammadu Buhari. His regime was itself deposed in 1985 by a military coup led by Major-General Ibrahim Babangida. After the military handed over power to the civilian in 1999, the nation constitution has experience many flops in the nation’s administration of Democracy to its citizen, Ayodele Samuel write on cause of military Intervention in the past years. Coup in politics means a sudden and decisive action in politics, especially one affecting a change of government illegally or by force, coup d'etat, as given in this definition, is characterized by suddenness, decisiveness, illegality and force which the nation had witness about six times before the 1999 democracy. Another elaboration: a coup d'etat is a sudden change of government by force, brought about by those who already hold some governmental or military power. Nigeria had witness this political demon between 1975 and 1998 with a lot of blood shed to its credit. Even through political instability could also be descried as coup, if a government violates the constitution or its own basic law, and goes on to enforce this violation by the employment of any coercive apparatus of state, then that government has stage a coup d'etat, no doubt, the following acts in the political history of Nigeria can be considered as coup d'etat: the dissolution of the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) by General Ibrahim Babangida in January 1990, and the constitution of a new one; the annulment of June 12, 1993 presidential election; the military expedition sent by President Olusegun Obasanjo to Odi in November 1999 without the approval of the Senate: absence of President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua from the country without officially handing over to the vice president Goodluck Jonathan could also be describe as a democratic coup d’etat. While Peace and Development Projects, PEDP, Director, Francis Abayomi said there is a need to protect the constitution by initiating the process to transfer presidential powers to the Vice President Goodluck Jonathan in acting capacity, until the health of the president improves. The president in ability to perform his perform his presidential functions had worsen the political suaitation of the nation, Abayomi said the nation is now missing in action in the comity of civilized nations. Political analyst have noted that the vacuum created in the day-to-day running of government due to the president’s failure to transmit powers to Vice President as constitutionally stipulated, could lead to an unconstitutional seizure of power at this time of nascent democracy as this will only aggravate the situation and plunge the nation into chaos. PEDP Director said “Nigerians particularly are disturbed by the activities of a clique in and out of government that is determined to hold this nation by the jugular and has continue to feed Nigerians half-truths on the true state of the president. These actions have been compounded by the National Assembly, which, rather than invoke relevant sections of the Constitution that will get the nation back on the path of genuine democracy, has handled the entire issue in an inept manner that has not only tarnished the image of the country, but also made it a laughing stock in the committee of civilised nations” Abayomi added. Abayomi uniting his voices with other teeming Nigerians said that national interest must override all personal and sectional interests in restating the public objection to any suggestion of unconstitutional take-over of power by the armed forces. Also Yinka Odumakin publicity sectary of the Afenifere Renewal Group said “only an idiot would not know that has happened in the last 54 days is assure recipe for military intervention, this is why Nigerians can’t decode why the elected members of the national assembly can’t be rational and do the right thing even if only for enlightened self interest. For political stability, patriotic forces are taking pro-active measures like protest to break this gridlock; Odumakin noted that military intervention to the nation democracy would drag the country back. While the national assembly has being slow in ensuring the constitution is not breach, Abayomi said :“For Principal Officers of the National Assembly to say they cannot force the president to observe the constitution which they swore to protect is gross dereliction of duty. Even elementary students of constitutional democracy know what a parliament is supposed to do when the president breaches the constitution. He insisted with its disturbing silenced about the continued breach of the constitution and serial acts of illegalities being perpetrated by both elected and unelected public officer holders, the National Assembly Principal Officers have betrayed the trust reposed on them and as such should quit. “We restate our position that national interest should override personal ambitions. We strongly believe that as representatives of the Nigerian people, the National Assembly should stand and defend the constitution and the rule of law”, Abayomi added. Nigerians, Abayomi stated, “are no longer interested in the reckless comments of some senior government officials who prefer to hold our nation hostage. Instead, the National Assembly should work towards smooth transfer of power to the Vice President. A medical panel should also be raised to brief the National Assembly and the nation on the state of the president’s health.” In his own view the convener of the united Action for Democracy Taiwo Otitolaye said military rule is out dated, diabolical and an aberration for all time, he noted that civil societies in the country will fight military hegemonits, “the restructuring of Nigeria along fiscal federalism and devolution of powers would resolve the Nigeria crisis”. While political players are currently consulting to stem the negative intervention, PRONACO spokesman Sir wale Okunniyi said eminent political leaders will meet very soon to organize proper intervention as lamentation and sheer noisemaking cannot resolve the present crisis which may lead to military intervention if Nigerians fold their arms.