According to reports, the All Progressives Congress has warned that Nigerians will defend their democracy and resist any coup against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“It is clear to everyone that Nigerians will defend their own democracy”, National Publicity Secretary of the ruling party, APC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, stated this on Friday while reacting to the alarm by the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai that some individuals were approaching some Army officers and soldiers for undisclosed political reasons.
According to the ruling party, “We have hesitated to react so far because we think that the house belongs to us, so we wanted to wait for Nigerians to react and Nigerians have reacted. If there was any such thing in the offing, I think it is clear to everyone that Nigerians will defend their own democracy.”
The Army had through its Director Public Relations, Brigadier General Sani Kukasheka Usman, said that the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, received information that some individuals were approaching some officers and soldiers for some clandestine agenda, warning such persons to desist.
He went further to say that the “Nigerian Army is a thorough professional, disciplined, loyal and apolitical institution that has clear constitutional roles and responsibilities.” The Army chief therefore warned all officers and soldiers interested in politics, to resign their commission or apply for voluntary discharge forthwith. “Any officer or soldier of Nigerian Army found to be hobnobbing with such elements or engaged in unprofessional conducts such as politicking would have himself or herself to blame”, he added.
Speaking in the same vein few days later, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Mr. Paul Arkwright, equally stated that the United Kingdom will not support any other political system to be practised in Nigeria.
“No other system will work in Nigeria, except democracy, UK believes so much in democracy and that is why we introduced it to Nigeria during the colonial era, we believe so much in democracy. So, our position is very clear; we stand for democracy, we stand for the democratic process and we stand for change, if that is what the people of Nigeria want. It has to be a choice that the people make and not a choice that is imposed upon them.
“The British Government believes that democracy is absolutely critical in Nigeria. There is a democratic process here; there are elections; if you are not happy with your leaders, then you should change your leadership process through elections”, the UK envoy stated.
Reacting to the APC’s warning yesterday, the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), National Caretaker Committee called on the Senate to summon the Chief of Army Staff, Lt-General Tukur Buratai to make full disclosure to them on his statement that some politicians are reaching out to military personnel for political reasons.
The spokesman of the committee, Prince Dayo Adeyeye told newsmen in a telephone interview yesterday that the Buratai’s statement was vague.
He challenged the Army Chief to name the politicians, who are reaching out to military personnel, the officers they are reaching out to and for what specific purpose. “In fact, we are asking the Senate to invite the Army Chief to appear before them and make full disclosure to them on the matter,” Adeyeye stated.
According to him, it is not enough for Buratai to make half statements, thereby creating vague impressions in the mind of the people.
The PDP spokesman said the party sustained the nation’s democracy for 16 years and has worked tirelessly in the past two years to prevent the APC from turning the country into a dictatorship. He said the opposition party will resist any attempt to truncate the nation’s democracy.
“That statement was very vague. The Army Chief should tell us who are the politicians. Who are the officers that were contacted and for what purpose. He should name names. Not half statements. They should tell us the nature of the overtures. They should not create vague impressions.
“He should be more open on the matter. We know that they have serious problems in the ruling party. Perhaps, there is a power struggle in the party,”Adeyeye said.
When contacted, Cairo Ojougboh, who is the Deputy National Chairman of the Senator Ali Modu Sheriff led National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP , said the statement by the Army Chief is a wake up call for politicians in the country.
Ojougboh, who spoke in his personal capacity, said politicians in the country should behave themselves. He added that members of the PDP should see Buratai’s statement as a warning that they need to bury their differences and come together in the interest of the nation’s democracy.