COUP D’ÉTATS: MALI, NIGERIA AND GENERAL WASHINGTON

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Certain young elements in the military, in Mali staged a coup and citizens went wild in a hyperactive pitch celebrating the removal of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta. It says a lot about the ousted president. Political persons in many African countries are never popular and never promote populist causes for the development of Africa. Many pass off as leaders of street gangs. Character is what leaders must be, but most African leaders lack values for the common good.

The hypocrisy of ECOWAS and ultimatum given to the junta is worrying and wearying. I do not support coup d’états. But where was ECOWAS when the ousted president was squandering the chance to manage the affairs of the country prudently especially with the rise of Jihadists in the north of the country? ECOWAS standby force should have been sent to quash Jihadists fighters and Boko Haram and not to be stationed to threaten the junta.

The celebrations in Mali as usual would be short-lived. Military leaders in Africa failed the continent.

Soldiers in Arab and Middle East led their troop from the front but not in Africa. They believed in group effort and survival and not individual effort and survival. For them it was about the interest of state but in Africa it is the interest of self, family and cronies.

The coup in Mali is all about individual effort and survival and not about the country.

It was the same in Nigeria. I respect soldiers; my late father was a soldier. Even though there are good soldiers in Nigeria, Nigeria has been unfortunate to have had very bad officers lead the country.

The people that ruled Nigeria as Heads-of-state lacked confidence in themselves.

The American system sharpens the American soldier. What is the Nigerian system?

The heroes of the common herd in Asia were military men. When these military leaders crushed their opponents, they did so not for personal gains but for national interests. All of the officers who ruled Nigeria as Heads-of-State were never competent enough. It is highly unfortunate because like their Asian, Latin and South American counterparts, these officers got their training from world class military institutions abroad, and while military colleagues in Asia, Latin and South America worked to develop their countries, these officers destroyed Nigeria.

You cannot compare them to the officers in these foreign countries in that time. They were never prudent. The gross indiscipline under the stewardship of some was high. And they couldn’t recruit people to help them in putting critical infrastructure in the country; you may forgive some for there were only a handful of technocrats at that time.

One Head-of-State was an undisciplined officer, had a fierce temper, tactless in war front and was very vindictive. Another was a coward; he was comfortable in his regiment during the war, avoided the frontline many times until push came to shove.

Yet again one Head-of-State became the undertaker. Under him, the indiscipline in the army rose to the roof. Junior officers had command positions, others were made governors and generals bowed to these junior officers. How could anyone ever explain this away? Position according to him is higher than rank. Senior officers waited on the tarmac and airport lobbies for junior officers and the latter shook hands with their superior officers. Can you believe this? Many people say he is a brilliant officer, but I say he is not an intelligent officer. There is a world of difference between brilliance and intelligence, same way there is between knowledge and wisdom.

Yet these people ruled Nigeria. Nigeria has had bad officers directed her affairs. Good and nationalistic officers have not been Heads-of-State in Nigeria.

The coup agitators in Mali must first address the misconception about what it is to be a Malian, this was what the ringleaders in Nigeria never did, and today Nigeria, is a country with no recognized national philosophy and national flavour.

Many things are taken for granted, the soldiery is quickly becoming one for tribal warlords, and some people are considered dumb, as outsiders even when on national assignment.

The problem of dual identity and pressures of dealing with two cultures even in federal uniform is the reason soldiers today are not as highly regarded as their US counterpart.

The national reputation of former heads-of-state is an encumbrance to Nigerians instead of an asset.

I come to the nettling conclusion that these heads-of-state, all from poor homes who should have helped the poor, shortchanged the poor and destroyed the military and Nigeria.

According to Gordon Allport, Nature of prejudice 1979, “people have strong links to the in-group below in the following order; Family, Neighbourhood, City, State, Nation, Racial stock, Mankind.” The coup leaders in Nigeria valued their racial stock and members of religious groups more than country. It is so in Mali.

General George Washington paints the picture of the ideal leader who was not power drunk and should be emulated by the coup plotters in Mali and his antecedents should have been emulated by the coup plotters in Nigeria in times past.

Simon Abah, Abuja