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Former United States ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, says the Nigerian elite appear to agree that the country is currently on the precipice of total failure and are seeking radical options to save Nigeria from the looming disaster.
But Campbell, in a blog post entitled “Nigeria: Anxiety over deteriorating security morphing into panic”, claims the concerned leaders are yet to come to terms with a perfect approach or strategy to salvage the ship of state from imminent collapse.
Citing recent media comments by Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, former Senate President Bukola Saraki and Senior Advocate of Nigeria Robert Clarke on the state of the nation, the ex-envoy said: “Something of a consensus among Nigerian elites seems to be forming that the country is in deep trouble and that radical options must be considered.”
Of note in his statement were Soyinka’s advice to President Muhammadu Buhari to seek outside assistance in dealing with the security challenge in the country, and Buhari’s meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken during which the President asked that the headquarters of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) be moved from Stuttgart, Germany to Africa, “so that it would be closer to the fight against jihadism in the Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin.”
Continuing, he said: “Since AFRICOM’s establishment in 2007, Nigeria has generally opposed any permanent AFRICOM presence in Africa. Critics have alleged that AFRICOM is “neocolonialist.” Buhari’s request was a reversal of longstanding policy.
“Perhaps in direct response to Clarke’s televised remarks on May 4 — as well as Sen. Saraki and other critics—Acting Director of Defense Information Brig. Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu publicly stated that the military has no intention of taking power: ‘We shall continue to remain apolitical, subordinate to civil authority, firmly loyal to the president…and the 1999 constitution.’
“In the face of the deterioration of security, doom and gloom about the future of Nigeria is widespread in public discourse. Still, Clarke went further than most—and on national television. Buhari’s AFRICOM request is an indication of a willingness to consider hitherto unacceptable options.
“Twenty-two years after the military left power and civilian, ostensibly democratic federalism was restored, it is striking that the army felt it necessary to issue a denial of any intention to seize power.
“The bottom line is that while Clarke is an outlier, something of a consensus among Nigerian elites seems to be forming that the country is in deep trouble and that radical options must be considered. But no consensus exists about what state collapse would look like, what the way forward should be, and what “radical restructuring of the Nigerian state” would actually mean or how it could be achieved.
“For now, however, the outlook would seem to be continuing, perhaps accelerating instability and uncertainty.”
Only last Tuesday, the Presidency said it was in possession of “unimpeachable” evidence of plot by some past leaders working with foreigners to forcefully sack Buhari from office.
It said dire consequences await the brains behind the alleged plot.
“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,” Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina said in a statement.
He added: “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.”
Oshiomhole faults call for military intervention
Speaking on Friday on the agitation for military takeover of government in the country, the immediate past national chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, said such agitation was irresponsible.
He said never will unelected leaders rule the country again.
Oshiomhole, who was receiving the leadership of the Law Students Association of Nigeria (LAWSON), who came to invite him to their forthcoming National Conference on Rule of Law, said even globally, military rule is no longer fashionable or acceptable.
His words: “It is again for me senseless, because the structure as it is today, who put it in place? Who overthrew the parliamentary system?
“The parliamentary system was overthrown by the Nigerian military; that is on record. Who created 12 states from the four regions by decree? It was the military. The current 36 states and FCT, who created them by military decree? It was the military.
“How can anybody who has lived through, and who is familiar with our journey as a nation think that the solution to our problems as a nation is to hand over to the military? I thought, talking about the rule of law, that is treason.
“You know we have freedom of speech. But it does not include the freedom to canvass unlawful means to effect a change. When you canvas unlawful means, then you should be arraigned before a court of law and dealt with according to the law.
“Ignorance is not even an excuse in law, not talk of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria.”
Catholic Bishops to FG: Shun propaganda against clerics
Also on Friday, the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) asked the Federal Government to resist the temptation of waging propaganda war against religious leaders who disagree with policies.
The bishops said that rather, the government should concentrate on addressing the current state of insecurity in the land.
The Bishops, in a statement through their president, Archbishop Augustine Akubeze, said Nigerians “are tired of hearing of bandits taking youths at the university and executing some of them, while others are kept to be used to bargain for ransom.”
“A country where students are no longer safe in schools nor farmers safe in their farms does not have a future to look to,” they said.
“In the midst of all these, the Presidency recently stated that some religious leaders and some Nigerian politicians are plotting to destabilise the country. The spokesperson for the Nigeria Army noted that there is no plan by the military to take over democratically elected persons. “While we reject any call for the destabilisation of Nigeria or military takeover, we nonetheless say to the Federal Government of Nigeria, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, there is no need to focus your energy, time and resources in any form of propaganda against religious leaders who disagree with your performance.
“There is no need to spend so much of your time trying to blackmail anyone who criticises your government.
“We speak out because we do not want Nigeria to collapse. We are not speaking out for the APC government to fail. We are speaking out so that Nigeria will not fail.
“APC is not the owner of Nigeria; Nigeria is owned by Nigerians irrespective of political affiliation.
“APC government must learn to listen to every Nigerian, both political actors in other parties and non-political actors in Nigeria and the diaspora.
“It is not out of place to call for a security summit in whatever form it may take as long as it leads to the unity, peace, justice, progress and protection of Nigerians.
“The Federal Government must be transparent with every Nigerian in the struggle to revive our economy, industrialise the nation, objectively deal with corruption and significantly reduce the high level of insecurity and unemployment. In every democracy, the welfare of the citizens is of great concern to the President.
“From time to time, Presidents address the people and give an account of the state of affairs in the country. Presidents of countries grant interviews to the media who are the watchdogs of democracy. But in Nigeria, we hardly hear directly from our President. Most of the time, we hear from ‘the Presidency’.
“Nigerians did not elect presidential media spokespersons. Nigerians do want to hear directly from their President and hear words that are matched with actions.
“To every religious leader, let us not use inflammatory words that distort the real message we are sending to this government. We must be united in the fight for our common destiny as a people. “It must be clearly stated to the Federal Government that if they continue to ignore the constructive criticisms and recommendations of Nigerians from every sector, the country will collapse and become ungovernable.
“We are speedily getting there. Police stations are being burnt, our gallant military men and women are being killed, barracks are attacked, IDP camps are attacked, farmlands are invaded, youth unemployment is at its highest, private sectors are not giving enabling environment to thrive, and appointments to offices are not reflective of our diversities; the complaints are almost endless – could the sounds signal a collapsing nation to be louder than this?