There are times when the prospect of a coup can be predicted with a high degree of certainty. At other times, such predictions or expectations come to nil. Generally, coups happen because of converging factors within and outside of the political arena. Single-factor coups are rare. When they happen, however, they happen because of a gaping hole in the political landscape. That is to say, they happen because of a lingering or dangerous vacuum in leadership. And power vacuum is what we have in today’s Nigeria.
Unlike in previous years, staging a coup in Nigeria is easier said than done. Not unattainable, though. And even if it were possible, one is not sure that the military and the security wing, along with their civilian posse, have the stomach for the global outcry and condemnation that is likely to follow. What’s more, there are domestic non-state actors that are likely to challenge the coupists. How to handle such groups may be tough: curfews may be violated, borders may be abridges; and the telecommunications network may be hard to switch off.
The military and her agents may also find that the days of Nigerians — everyday Nigerians — laying low and or celebrating their adventures and misadventures are over. 2010 is vastly different from the 1960s or the 1970s and the 1980s. Times have changed. In an age where people are soulfully clamoring for good governance, accountability and constitutionalism, military coup d’etat may not be the solution to the countless ills that have become institutionalized in the Nigerian vein and marrow.
That Nigeria is a mess is beyond dispute. That the vast majority of the men and women in power, or within the corridors of power, are mentally challenged is beyond question. Frankly, the apple is not just sour; it is rotten. The fish is not just emitting foul odor from its head; no, the entire fish is decaying. Reasonable people who were in doubt of the fetidity that is Nigerian-leadership have had their doubts cast aside (as a result of the events of the last 60 or so days). Nigeria is a mess, a bloody mess. But a coup?
A coup? Of course! It is why Nigeria is Nigeria and Nigeria is where anything is possible. Things that are impossible in most societies are possible in Nigeria; while things that are possible in most other societies are impossible to accomplish in Nigeria. It is precisely because of these anomalies that it would be unwise to discount coups in present day Nigeria. One only needs to listen to chatters to know that this government may be sacked within the next 120 days. It may be sacked unless the right things are done. The irony is that the right things are not difficult to do. Unbridled personal ambition has blinded most: self before country; personal aggrandizement before national security.
If a coup does happen, it may be bloody. Bloody in the sense that a lot of lives will be lost; and government buildings and installations bombed. There may be several trips to the executioner’s den. And in fact those who have been calling for Rawlings-style operation would be shocked. Regional and international outcries and condemnations may not matter. The world would understand. It may be better to clean house now, rather than wait for it to crumble. Nigeria is at once decaying and crumbling.