By Terhemba Daka, Azimazi Momoh Jimoh, Nkechi Onyedika-Ugoeze (Abuja), Lawrence Njoku (Enugu), Seye Olumide (Lagos), and Ayodele Afolabi (Ado Ekiti)
• Buhari haunted by his coup plotting past, says PDP
• HURIWA: You made yourself removable due to crass incompetence, nepotism
• Afenifere, UPU, Yoruba Ronu, PANDEF flay FG over coup alarm
• Afe Babalola offers to convoke, sponsor Emergency National Conference
• Another governor, Ndume raise the alarm over activities of Boko Haram
• Insecurity: NANS threatens to shut down the country
What began as a rumour or idle talk – whispers of a putsch – yesterday gathered a life of its own as state actors kept giving life to the notion, which is turning and turning in the widening gyre.
First was the pledge by the military that it would not overthrow President Muhammadu Buhari, a former army general and head of state whose government has come under strident criticisms over growing insecurity in the country.
In a statement issued by Acting Director, Defence Information, Brigadier-General Onyema Nwachukwu, the military said it has no intention of taking over power again in Nigeria. This, it said, is because it believes that despite tough times, democracy is the way to go and militarism is no longer fashionable. The army also warned politicians nursing ambition of ruling Nigeria outside the ballot box, saying it would continue to defend the country’s democracy.
“We shall continue to remain apolitical, subordinate to the Civil Authority, firmly loyal to the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari and the 1999 Constitution as Amended. We shall continue to discharge our constitutional responsibilities professionally, especially in protecting the country’s democracy, defence of the territorial integrity of the country as well as protection of lives and properties of citizens,” the statement said in part.
This statement was in reaction to agitation by some secessionist and opposition figures for a restructuring of the government, coming two days after the Department of State Services (DSS) also issued same warning.
Immediately after the army’s pledge of loyalty, the Presidency, yesterday, raised the alarm, warning of a subliminal plot by some past leaders working with foreigners to forcefully sack President Buhari from office. However, it did not provide names of the leaders and their cohorts.
The Presidency predicated its conclusion on what it described as ‘unimpeachable’ evidence made available to it by DSS operatives. It, however, warned of dire consequences of such plot, especially where the citizens have opted for democratic rule, saying the only accepted way to change a democratically elected government is through elections.
In a statement issued by Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, the Presidency said: “The Department of State Services (DSS), on Sunday alerted on sinister moves by misguided elements to wreak havoc on the government, sovereignty and corporate existence of the country.
“Championed by some disgruntled religious and past political leaders, the intention is to eventually throw the country into a tailspin, which would compel a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership.
“Further unimpeachable evidence shows that these disruptive elements are now recruiting the leadership of some ethnic groups and politicians round the country, with the intention of convening some sort of conference, where a vote of no confidence would be passed on the President, thus throwing the land into further turmoil.
“The agent provocateurs hope to achieve through artifice and sleight of hands, what they failed to do through the ballot box in the 2019 elections. Nigerians have opted for democratic rule, and the only accepted way to change a democratically elected government is through elections, which hold at prescribed times in the country. Any other way is patently illegal, and even treasonable. Of course, such would attract the necessary consequences.”
In response to the salvo fired by the Presidency, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has described the allegation that some Nigerians were plotting a forceful and undemocratic change of leadership, as a resort to blackmail in the face of failure. The PDP, in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, asked Buhari to look closely at his past before accusing it of plot to overthrow democratically elected government.
“Perhaps, the Presidency has forgotten that in 1983, Brigadier Muhammadu Buhari, as he was then known, led a military coup to truncate a democratically elected government thereby causing our nation a huge drawback on democratic governance.”
The PDP said rather than live up to the responsibilities of office by taking charge and securing the nation, “the Presidency is busy engaging in frivolous allegations against Nigerians.”
According to the PDP, the Buhari Presidency and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are being haunted by their own shadows, as Nigerians know the persons as well as the political party with the history and penchant to scuttle democratically elected government.
DESCRIBING the alarm as false and signs of a jittery administration pushing the panic button, a civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has asked Buhari to quit immediately if the “kitchen has become too hot for him.”
HURIWA said the President should blame nobody but himself for manifesting crass incompetence and for practicing unrepentant nepotism in appointments, which violates the constitutional principles of federal character.
In a statement yesterday in Abuja, National Coordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, called on President Buhari to lead by example by commanding and controlling his security forces to go after terrorists and armed Fulani militia and kidnappers threatening the corporate existence of Nigeria.
He said: “The corporate existence of Nigeria is not dependent on the continuous tolerance of a thoroughly incompetent government that lacks the decency of good governance. It is laughable that President Buhari does not realise that due to his high level of nepotism in which he appointed and has just appointed only Muslim northerners into all internal security architectures, the truth, which he is running away from is that Nigeria is imploding just as insecurity has threatened the territorial integrity of Nigeria.
“The President should blame himself for the imminent collapse of constitutionalism due to general collapse of security, kidnappings, killings and general breakdown of law and order, to the extent that 39 students of Federal Forestry College in Kaduna and 27 students of Greenfield University in Kaduna have been in the captivity of kidnappers for a month without government securing them.”
MEANWHILE, legal luminary and founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola, yesterday, announced the sponsorship of a National Conference, christened “Summit of Hope” to find urgent ways out of the current crisis facing the country. Babalola spoke at his university, in Ado Ekiti, at the 10th Aare Afe Babalola Annual Public Lecture, organised by the Ado Ekiti branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA).
The founder of ABUAD consequently donated a cash sum of N50 million to the said conference, which he said could take place at his university. The legal icon explained that his intervention was to stop the country from drifting into imminent anarchy or resorting into another civil war.
“The situation in Nigeria today is gruesome and all hands must be on deck to save the country from total collapse. I am proposing ABUAD as venue of the summit because it is safe, has a Federal Ministry of Aviation-certified helipad, almost well-equipped 400-bed multi-system hospital, modern sporting facilities, among others,” he said.
The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, hailed the decision of Babalola, describing the step as patriotic, and that he would, in his capacity as Co-Chairman of National Traditional Council of Nigeria, report the development to fellow rulers to seek support since the conference was aimed at restoring normally to the polity.
LEADER of Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, in his reaction said the president has lost control of the country’s leadership, adding that nobody needs to pass a vote of no confidence on him before the whole world knows that he has failed Nigerians.
Adebanjo said the coup alarm by the Federal Government was a diversion and a ploy to get members of the opposition parties arrested before the next general elections. According to him, “If they know there is a plan to stage a coup, investigate it and get those involved arrested. Stop diverting our attention.
“I don’t know of any group who wants to take over the government but I know those of us who want the country to be restructured in a peaceful manner. Those of us in Afenifere and all other groups in the South who are agitating for restructuring are the friends of Nigeria.”
THE Urhobo Progress Union (UPU), Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) have challenged the Federal Government to conduct proper investigation and make necessary arrest if it is true that some persons were planning a coup against the administration of President Buhari.
In separate reactions yesterday, the groups said the position of the Federal Government was merely diversionary and an attempt to cover up its inability to address the state of insecurity in the country.
The spokesman of UPU, Abel Oshevire, said the allegation is weighty and if substantiated, then the government should do the needful, otherwise it is a mere diversion.
President Yoruba Ronu Leadership Forum, Akin Malaolu, lambasted the government for trying to take Nigerians for fools by diverting their attention with inconsequential alarm of coup.
PANDEF National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Ken Robinson, said: “Though the forum does not wish Nigeria to collapse but it could become inevitable if the insecurity situation continues. The Federal Government must decisively and dispassionately do everything within the law to stem the worsening insecurity in the country to avert the predictions of doom, and restore the confidence of Nigerians in the capability of the government and the security agencies to protect life and property of citizens.”
An elder statesman, Chief Chekwas Okorie, said that it would be disastrous for anybody to contemplate to overthrow or impeach the president over various outbursts and call for his removal as a result of the current security challenges in the country.
Okorie told The Guardian that fears allegedly being nursed that impeachment might happen were unnecessary, insisting that the situation had not in any way overwhelmed the President. Rather than contemplate to impeach or remove the president, Okorie suggested that efforts should be geared at solving the security challenges in such a way that would benefit the people of the country, stressing that security was not the sole responsibility of the government.
Okorie said: “One thing is obvious and nobody can deny that the state of insecurity in Nigeria is disturbing and very unprecedented. It is riddled with all manner of unpleasant situation. But I don’t see the possibility of the President being impeached as a result of this situation. Some of the solutions may not have worked but more and more Nigerians are beginning to discuss and proffer solution to it especially at the national level. States are getting more involved; and regions are getting more involved to protect their own environment.”
YESTERDAY, the governor of Jigawa State, Muhammad Badaru, urged residents of the state to be vigilant, following reports of suspicious movement of Boko Haram insurgents in neighbouring Bauchi State. Earlier, the Bauchi State Government had raised an alarm that Boko Haram insurgents from neighbouring Yobe State had infiltrated four of its local government areas, most of which are at the boundary with Jigawa.
Following the development in Bauchi, the Jigawa governor, Badaru held meeting with traditional rulers, local government chairpersons and security agents at Ahmadu Bello Hall of the Government House in Dutse, at the end of which he urged residents to report any suspicious movement.
Also, the state’s Commissioner of Police, Usman Gomna, told journalists that the police received an intelligence report of alleged movement of suspected Boko Haram members around Gwaram. He is the third governor after last week’s alarm by Niger Governor.
This is just as the Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, Senator Ali Ndume, yesterday raised the alarm that Boko Haram insurgents have started regrouping again in the northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa. He stated this while briefing journalists after plenary on his bill seeking to establish Federal College of Education Gwoza, Borno State.
He, however, said the resurgence of Boko Haram activities should not stop the establishment of more education institutions in Borno.Ndume said: “Last week, 30 soldiers were killed in Mainok on the highway. Yesterday (Monday) just 30km from Maiduguri, the town was overrun by Boko Haram. It took concerted efforts of the armed forces but we lost a major and two soldiers. In Rann Local Government, the same thing happened.”
THE National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has threatened that it would shut down the country if insecurity persists, regretting that no fewer than 100 students have either lost their lives or been abducted in recent times.
Addressing reporters in Awka, NANS senate president, Comrade Chuks Okafor, said Nigerian students would no longer watch while their fellow students were being abducted in their institutions and nothing was being done to end the ugly situation.