Trouble ahead in Nigeria?

Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua has dismissed the country’s chief of the defence staff, together with the heads of the army and navy.

Mr Yar’Adua made the announcement before going on a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Via BBC News, brought to my attention by my colleague Naunihal Singh.

Naunihal has written extensively on coups, and has the following to add:

I’m not saying that Nigeria is likely to face a coup attempt. I don’t know enough about the case and I don’t have a theory of when coups are attempted in any case. I actually think it’s unlikely.

But I do think that if you’re about to change the top three officers in a country you really should be around afterwards. Just in case.

Until 1999 Nigeria–the major power in West Africa–seemed to be one of the most coup-prone nations in a region replete with armed overthrow. Since moving to civilian rule, Nigeria has acted to discourage coups across the region (with some success). It would be a continental tragedy if their government were overthrown.

If it happens, I’d expect a much stronger international reaction than the paltry response to Mauritania’s recent coup.

3 thoughts on “Trouble ahead in Nigeria?

  1. I think Obasandjo did that more than once during his 8 years in power.

    But I do think that if you’re about to change the top three officers in a country you really should be around afterwards. Just in case.

    Here’s the thing though.. In Nigeria, the top military chiefs have staged very few coups. They mostly come from the highest rank of officer with direct contact with troops: majors. And there’s even some specialization. I don’t remember which but a specific division has staged more coups than any other. The head of the navy is certainly not about to do anything.

  2. Sacking the military chiefs is more about reducing Obasanjo’s lingering influence than a direct move against the officers themselves.

    “If it happens, I’d expect a much stronger international reaction than the paltry response to Mauritania’s recent coup.”

    I actually think the international response to Mauritania’s coup has been pretty good. What other actions should the international community take? The U.S., EU, and World Bank have suspended aid disbursements. Important donors and even the AU have condemned the coup. The only people whose response has been weeks are the Arab donors, who are significant players in Mauritania. Pressure on the junta is mounting.

  3. even the AU have condemned the coup

    Just so you know, the AU actually suspended Mauritania for the other coup too. And kept them suspended during the whole transition.