By Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe
The Oxford Reference Dictionary defines coup d’état as: “The sudden, forcible, and illegal removal of a government, usually by the military or some part thereof, often precipitated by more immediate grievances bearing directly on the military.” However, the legitimacy or illegitimacy of any coup, whether military or civilian, is dependent on its success.
A successful coup automatically assumes the toga of legitimacy whether popular or unpopular, as in the cases of July 29, 1966, led by Lt. Col Yakubu Gowon, July 29, 1975, led by Brigadier Murtala Mohammed and November 17, 1993, led by General Sani Abacha, with its leaders afterwards celebrated as national heroes and statesmen. On the other hand, an unsuccessful coup even though popular among the masses, like the cases of Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu-led January 15, 1966, and Major Gideon Orkar-led April 22, 1990, coups, automatically adorns the garbs of abortive and illegitimacy, with its leaders stigmatized as villains.
In general, military coups in whatever form they are executed, bloody or bloodless, are necessary means of temporarily reordering disordered societies by corrupt and insensitive political leaders. Within the traditional African political context, communities, chiefdoms, kingdoms, and empires had their varying methods of doing away with corrupt and insensitive political leaders. Within the context of Islam, this is carried out not by means of jihad but through the mystical concept of Mahdism, since jihad has to do with war against supposed infidels.
For the Christians, there is a plethora of injunctions in the Holy Bible that not only support violent overthrow of oppressive rulers and governments but even through the shedding of their blood where necessary. Chief among these injunctions is the Book of Hebrews chapter 9 verse 22, which states ipso facto: “And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission [salvation].”
Proverbs chapter 28 verse 15 states: “Like a roaring lion or a charging bear is a wicked ruler over a helpless people.” The question here is what will the people do if they find a roaring lion in their midst or a bear charging towards them? Fold their hands and watch while the lion and bear devour them? Isaiah chapter 10 verse 1 states: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees.
Jeremiah chapter 23 verses 1 and 2 state: “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore, this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: ‘Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,’ declares the Lord.”
The question again is, what is the meaning of “woe” when the Holy Bible says, “woe unto you?” The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines woe as: “a condition of deep suffering from misfortune, affliction, or grief; ruinous trouble: calamity, affliction.” This is what the poor masses are praying for the current Nigerian political leadership without equivocation.
In fact, this is how the Book of Isaiah chapter 1 verse 23 describes the current government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to Nigerians: “Your rulers are rebels, partners with thieves; they all love bribes and chase after gifts. They do not defend the cause of the fatherless; the widow’s case does not come before them.”
If the Holy Bible describes the leaders of your country in that heinous bad light, what do you do? Fold your hands and watch till you die untimely and ingloriously like others?
Proverbs chapter 29 verse 2 is explicit on the current precipitous state of political affairs in Nigeria when it states: “When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, but when the wicked rule, the people groan.” Furthermore, Proverbs chapter 16 verse 12 tells us that: “It is an abomination to kings to do evil, for the throne is established by righteousness.” The question here is as Africans living in Africa and governed by African rulers, what does the word “abomination” connote and what is the standard rule of dealing with any leader who commits acts of abomination as in the case of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu?
Finally Proverbs chapter 28 verse 16 says that: “A ruler who lacks understanding is a cruel oppressor, but he who hates unjust gain will prolong his days.” The question is does President Bola Tinubu display a modicum of understanding of both the feelings and sufferings of the Nigerian masses? In that sense, is it not right therefore to describe him as a cruel oppressor?
It is still within the memory of some Nigerians when in the heat of the economic sufferings of the Nigerian masses which was orchestrated by President Shehu Shagari’s austerity measures, the then Senate President Senator Joseph Wayas was asked by journalists what he thought of the sufferings of the common man. His power-drunken response clothed in iniquitous arrogance was that he was himself also a common man. Ironically Senator Joseph Wayas died a common man.
Just recently the incumbent Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio similarly took delight in mocking the poor Nigerian masses over their current unimaginable sufferings. Here him:
Your prayer is that let the poor breathe and then Senator Mustapha has seconded that the poor should breathe. Those who are in support of the additional prayer that the poor should b allowed to breathe say ai! Ai! And those who are against say nay! The ais have it; the poor must be allowed to breathe.”
Shameful enough, this was the same Senator Godswill Akpabio who in April 2018 as Senate Minority Leader stated during his investiture as the pioneer Chancellor of the Ikot Ekpene-based Ritman University how poverty nearly cost him secondary school education. In his words as reported by Cletus Ukpong for Premium Times issue of April 15, 2018:
“My dear late widow mother, may her gentle soul rest in perfect peace, had told me that it would be difficult for me to enter secondary school on completion of primary school because her hands were full with my siblings.”
The Igbo say, onye amaro ebe miri si maba ya, o ma makwa ebe o si kwusi i ma ya (a person who does not know where rain began to beat him will equally not know where it will stop beating him). This is the case of Senator Godwill Akpabio and the lot of his kind who forgot their history of poverty and forgot the fact that only God Almighty has the power to allocate the right to breathe to every human being both the rich and poor; highly and lowly; and not the accursed Senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria currently led by the despicable quisling Senator Godswill Akpabio.
Tell me why the Nigerian masses will not be celebrating the military coup in Niger Republic in anticipation of their turn? It happened in Guinea-Conakry and the people celebrated. It happened in Mali and the people celebrated. It happened in Burkina Faso and the people celebrated. Now it has happened in Nigeria’s next-door neighbor and the people are celebrating. Why shouldn’t Nigerians join their good neighbors to celebrate their victory over their accursed band of insensitive and wicked politicians?
Without mincing words, notwithstanding the shaky expectations of the Presidential Election Tribunal, what Nigerians readily need currently is not just a military coup but one that will spill the blood of these domineering pharisaic politicians tormenting the Nigerian masses. It does not matter if President Tinubu is made the life-Chairman of ECOWAS. The reason is clear. Of all the 15 member-countries of ECOWAS, only five of the so-called democratic countries have the moral carriage to condemn any coup in the region. These are Benin, Togo, Ghana, Liberia and Cabo Verde. Which moral legitimacy has Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Sierra Leone, Guinea-Bissau, Gambia and Senegal to question any coup in another country?
Is it not sheer hypocrisy that the same Nigeria that supported the coup in Republic of Chad will be talking of condemning the coup in Niger Republic? By Article 81 of the 2018 Constitution of Chad Republic, on the absence or death of the President, the President of the National Assembly should act between forty-five and ninety days, during which a new election shall be held to elect a new President.
But after the death of President Idriss Deby Itno who died in battle on April 20, 2021 in the hands of the Libya-based rebel group Front pour l’Alternance et la Concorde du Tchad (FACT), the President of National Assembly Honorable Dr. Haroun Kabadi who was constitutionally required to take over was forced to resign under gun-point, to pave way for Idriss Deby’s son General Mahamat Déby Itno to succeed him.
The point however must be made that no country is either immune or above military coup d’état. Recently and precisely in December 2021, three retired United States Generals, namely Paul Eaton, Antonio Taguba and Steven Anderson expressed the fear of a coup in 2024 in the United States if the Presidential election is not properly managed. So if President Bola Tinubu thinks by shielding himself with his co-Yoruba ethnic military officers he cannot be overthrown let him ask his former Guinean President-friend Alpha Conde who the current President Lt Col Mamady Doumbouya was to him, or General Yakubu Gowon who was Major General Joe Garba the man who announced his overthrow to him. In fact, who was Brutus to Julius Caesar?
The truth is that the only anti-dot to military coup and political revolution is a leadership constructed on the foundations of equity and moral sense of judgment woven with a sense of unrivalled patriotism and collective welfare of those they are ruling; which revolves at the center of what constitutes the whirlwind of political conscience. Outside these marked indices, bad political leadership exists only as long as the will of the people permits.
The point is that Nigerian politicians have always seen military coups as political sabbatical leaves to enable them to enjoy their loots of office which explains why they are mindless about the dare consequences of their endemic corrupt culture of leadership. Indeed, until a Jerry Rawlins or Samuel Doe arrives the Nigerian political scene, that sense of collective patriotism and dutiful concern over the welfare of those under their watch will not come alive. Moreover, in the coming revolution, the judiciary might not be as lucky as they have always been, because they constitute part of the intractable moral virus currently plaguing democracy in Nigeria.
- Nwankwo T. Nwaezeigwe, PhD, DD
Odogwu of Ibusa, Delta State, Nigeria, Institute of African Studies, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Nigeria Leader, International Coalition against Christian Genocide in Nigeria (CAC-GEN). Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org, Website: https://icac-gen.org July 27, 2023