The Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents on Friday, noting, “I can tell you that there is no fear or apprehension at all. We have gone past that, and we have been a democratic country all this while with the institutions of democracy getting stronger.”
Meanwhile, some retired generals in separate interviews with our correspondents warned that the only way to avoid coups on the continent was for elected leaders to respect constitutional provisions and ensure good governance in their respective countries. While not justifying the military takeovers, they said leaders must be accountable and desist from repressive rule if coup must become a thing of the past.
The continent witnessed its latest coup and the second one in 2023 on Wednesday when some military personnel in Gabon seized power and placed the ousted President, Ali Bongo, and his family members under house arrest. Gabon is in Central Africa.
After the forceful takeover, which brought to seven the number of coups on the continent within the past three years, the soldiers announced the annulment of last Saturday’s presidential election that renewed Bongo’s prolonged rule, bringing to an abrupt end the Bongo family’s 56-year rule in the country.
Ali’s father, Omar Bongo, ruled the country from 1967 to 2009, and after his death, his son took over and remained in power until Wednesday.
About one month earlier, some soldiers in Niger Republic on July 26, 2023, also seized power and placed the ousted President, Mohamed Bazoum, under house arrest. The junta has since asked for a three-year transition period, which the Economic Community of West African States rejected, insisting that the junta should return the country to democracy or be forced to do so by its task force. Niger is in West Africa.
Also, on January 24, 2002, the military in West Africa’s Burkina Faso ousted the then President Roch Marc Christian Kabore, while soldiers in Sudan, led by General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, sacked the civilian rule in place in the country and arrested political leaders while declaring a state of emergency. Sudan is in North Africa.
About two years ago, September 5, 2021 precisely, the then President of Guinea, Alpha Conde, was sacked by the military and was replaced by Colonel Mamady Doumbouya. After his sacking, he wasn’t declared “free” by the military until April, 2023. The junta promised to return the country to civil rule by the end of 2024. Guinea is also in West Africa.
Prior to this, Mali, also in West Africa, witnessed two coup within a year. On August 18, 2020, the then President, Ibrahim Boubacar Keita, was ousted by the military and a transitional leader installed. But by May, 2021, about nine months after, the military arrested the President and the Prime Minister, after which they inaugurated one of them as the transitional President. They also promised a return to democracy in 2024.
Independent of these, the military also retained its hold on power in Chad after its President, Idriss Deby, was killed on the battlefield on April 20, 2021. His son, General Mahamat Idriss Deby Itno, has been in power since then despite a promised two-year transitional period. Chad is in Central Africa.
Out of the seven countries, West Africa, where Nigeria belongs, has recorded four coups, which is the highest; Central Africa has recorded two while North Africa recorded one.
No pressure –FG
On account of the intensifying coup and growing apprehension that it could spread to other countries on the continent, the Federal Government has said Nigerians have nothing to worry about.
Speaking further, the information and national orientation minister stated, “Nigeria is a different country. Nigerians will no longer accept such, so it will be difficult for anyone, at this point of our national development, to come out to do that or for us to start nursing any apprehension. We have very strong democratic institutions, so it is very difficult for anybody to just take up arms against the state. So, there is no apprehension at all.
“We have to stand up against military takeover anywhere on the continent. That does not mean we are afraid that such could happen in Nigeria. The fact that something like that happened elsewhere does not mean we have to live in fear. No, we have gone past that.”