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Why religious enmity may plunge Nigeria to embrace modern coups

Why religious enmity may plunge Nigeria to embrace modern coups

One world power is planning to launch what may not be completely called another world war as of now but it is taking all African countries to its side. However, external aggressions are nothing compared to the internal throes African democracy brings to its people.

This is certainly the only reason why most Africans drum up support for the military coups, sanctioning external influences and cutting off every ties of them in their countries. As it is, Nigeria may be the next African country to embrace a military coup ably supported by the people like the recent one in Niger.

Coup is a necessary evil in some cases. By this, Nigeria may witness such an occurrence shortly as democracy continually fails alongside the constitution of the country. Islamic extremists in Ilorin, capital of Kwara State have launched a verbal attack, antagonism and a threat of a physical assault against the traditional worshippers.

Their only reason was that the city is of Islam and must never be used to entertain any other religions. But this is an aberration of the 1999 constitution which gives the right for every citizen to choose and practice whatever religion they wanted.

But in all these the Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq and Nigeria’s president, Bola Tinubu have been taciturn and indifferent towards the situation.

In an ethnically multifarious country with a hundred diverse languages, cultures and traditions, a religion must not be considered superior over another religion. The thought of that is what usually leads to war, says Tyler James.

Going by modern historical fact, since 2020, a troubling trend of military coups has emerged in six contiguous African states, from Guinea on the Atlantic Ocean to Sudan on the Red Sea.

The latest coup in Niger following the takeovers in other countries like Mali, raises significant concerns about the stability and governance in the Sahel region. Especially, based on the fact that the citizenry drummed support for it.

The recent coup in Niger took place despite President Bazoum being a leader elected by a majority of Niger’s voters and valued by international partners. His previous roles as prime minister and interior minister, overseeing security matters, had positioned him as a key figure in the country’s governance.

The Niger military has blamed the cause of the coup on insecurity in the country. While many of the protesting Nigeriens who occupied the country’s capital city, Niamey have also said they are fully in support of the coup because there are religious crises and President Bazoum doesn’t seem to be doing anything about it.

This further raises concern on how far the inability of a leader to curb situations and provide solutions to pressing issues as and when due, can cause high levels of mayhem that can upheave a government.

Nigeria is currently at the crossroads of such a circumstance.

The United States’ claimed commitment to Niger’s democracy and security was believably evident when Secretary of State Blinken visited the country in March, viewed as a crucial show of support by Nigeriens and the international community alike.

Understanding the root causes of coups is essential to addressing the issue effectively. Coups, like insurgencies and extremist movements, often stem from governance failures, where leaders fail to meet the needs and aspirations of their people. Each Sahel country faces its unique challenges and conflicts, making it important not to oversimplify the pattern of coups as a mere “contagion” spreading across the region.

In the case of Niger, reports indicate that the coup originated from a disgruntled top military officer who was removed from his post by the president. Interestingly, its neighbour, Nigeria, attempted to intervene and prevent the coup. President Bola Tinubu sent senior officers to persuade the Niger military to abort the takeover, demonstrating regional leadership and cooperation in response to the crisis.

Despite billions of dollars spent on international assistance to combat violent extremism and build stability in the region, the approach has not been entirely successful in curbing insurgencies and extremism. While military proficiency of armies and security forces has improved, governance challenges remain unaddressed, particularly in the context of security challenges under civilian rule.

This disillusionment with international support and a perception that it has not improved their conditions may have prompted some soldiers to take matters into their own hands and seize power. This is also one of the reasons Nigeriens decided to oppose the support of France, US, UK and all other of their foreign affiliations.

According to the majority of the protesters, the coup is an act to protect and improve the wellbeing of their country.

The rise in military coups in Africa may also be attributed to a perceived lack of consequences from the international community. Economic sanctions or military interventions from Western nations, which were meant to protect their interests, seem to have waned in their deterrent effect.

Consequently, coup plotters may feel emboldened, believing they can act without fear of significant repercussions.

The economic philosophy of these young leaders in power across Africa remains largely unclear. Their focus and plans to grow their economies need further scrutiny and examination. However, it is evident that a shift towards military rule undermines democratic principles and good governance, and may not bode well for the long-term development and prosperity of these nations.

Democracy, while imperfect, provides a framework for accountability, transparency, and participation. Rule by force often results in authoritarianism and repression, limiting people’s freedoms and stifling economic growth in the long run. A more transparent and inclusive approach to governance is essential for sustained economic development and the wellbeing of citizens.

The recent surge of military coups in Africa’s Sahel region is deeply concerning, and it demands a nuanced and comprehensive approach to address the underlying governance and economic challenges. Regional leadership and cooperation, along with continued international support, are crucial in building stability and fostering democratic institutions that can effectively address the needs and aspirations of the people in these nations. Only through a sustained commitment to good governance, inclusivity, and economic development can these countries hope to break the cycle of coups and build a brighter future for their citizens. If Nigeria does not replicate this and curb the grumbling religious mayhem springing from Ilorin, I am speechless at the next move by Nigerians in the face of frustrations.

Oyedibu is a public-centric independent Investigative Journalist and publisher of PIJAlance Magazine.