When there are murmurs and whispers of a putsch, someone somewhere may be fiddling with the sticks. Where there is smoke, there is fire. Turning and turning in the widening gyre, the hawks and vultures circle seeking supper from anarchy and insecurity in the land. But may it never be said that Nigeria experienced a coup d’état after 22 years of democratic experiment.
In political science, coups are often governed by the zeitgeist – the prevailing mood of the time. In the 70s, 80s and 90s coups were fashionable in Africa, and particularly in West Africa. But with the turning of the 21 century, democracy stabilised in the region. However in 2019, there was a divergence from the assumed norm. The military struck in Sudan, deposing President Omar al-Bashir after weeks of popular protests.
The protests over prices of bread and petrol and violent crackdowns on citizens by security agents created the tenor for the usurpation of power by the “barracks boys”.
In 2020, there was a mutiny in the army in Mali. The rebellion thickened and degenerated into a coup which sacked the democratically elected government of President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita. Mali had been in the throes of a deadly insurgency and soldiers were being killed in quotas. This quandary was compounded by an alleged fraudulent election conducted by the government — effectuating citizens’ revulsion which climaxed in the unsolicited intervention of the military. There is always a “mood to the madness”.
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