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.”