Fear of a possible coup d’etat in Nigeria has emerged, as reports reaching Post-Nigeria, revealed that President Muhammadu Buhari may defy his Doctors’ order, and cut short his medical vacation, to forestall the occurrence. Recall, that the 74-year-old Head of State, spent nearly two months on his medical leave in London, earlier this year.
He left again on 7th May, handing over power to the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo. Analysts had previously warned that Buhari’s prolonged absence, could spark a power struggle ahead of the 2019 Presidential election, should the Leader become incapacitated. According to a source who spoke in confidence to Post-Nigeria via telephone: “Information reaching us has it that Buhari is planning to cut short his medical vacation, because of fear of a possible military coup.’”
“Meanwhile, the information is still very vague. But I can assure you that Mr. President is no longer comfortable with the news of a possible military coup. His presence can douse a lot of tension. I can assure you that he will definitely cut short his leave.” This came as the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, has now warned Army officials, against becoming involved in the country’s politics. He made the remarks on 16th May, after the Nigerian Army received information that, “some individuals have been approaching some Officers and Soldiers, for undisclosed political reasons.” Also speaking, a top security source stated: “A coup is not likely to happen, given the precedent. There was similar pressure in 2010, with Yar’Adua terminally ill, but the soldiers stayed in their barracks.” However, Buratai’s statement prompted the UK embassy in Nigeria, to issue a warning against “non-democratic” change of government in the country.
“There are elections. If you’re not happy with your leaders, then you should change your leadership through the democratic process and through elections”, the UK High Commissioner to Nigeria, Paul Arkwright said earlier. Although Analysts seem to believe a coup is possible but unlikely, there are fears that some Politicians loyal to Buhari, a Muslim from the North, could obstruct Osinbajo, a Christian from the South.
“Northern leaders will try to get a concrete deal that will at best, see Osinbajo step down for a Northern candidate to run in the 2019 poll”, a source said.
“If that agreement cannot be reached, some figures may resort to extreme measures to get their way, and so a coup isn’t ruled out, considering the top military establishments are in the North, and Northern soldiers dominate the Army.” UK-based Security Analyst and Counter-Terrorism Expert, David Otto, believes a coup could succeed, only if Northerners were behind it, given the perception that top positions within the Army, are covered by people from Northern Nigeria. “If a coup were to occur in Nigeria, with the composition of the military, it will not be successful, if a Southerner was behind it”, he said.
“There could be genuine fear from the so called ‘Northern Cabal’ (elite from northern Nigeria), that what happened with the previous leader Yar’Adua could happen to President Buhari: Leaving Osibanjo, a Southern Christian, to take charge and maybe run in 2019.
“The fact that Buhari is out of the country indefinitely is not good for Nigeria stability. President Buhari must either return to Nigeria , disclose what’s wrong with him or put the interests of the country [first] and resign as a result of his unfortunate ill health”, Otto concluded.