It was exactly four decades since the first coup took place in Nigeria under the aegis of the five majors led by Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. Among the remote causes of the coup were power tussle between political gladiators, misuse of power, the census dispute and the ineptitude of the Federal Government to handle sensitive political issues with dispatch. The immediate cause, however, was the breakdown of law and order in the Western Region occasioned by the October 1965 elections which deepened the cleavages in the region. Lives were lost, properties destroyed and people lived in palpable fear yet the central government did not show enough concern.
In an attempt to redress the issues, the five majors executed a coup which resulted in the assassination of top political figures, including the Prime Minister, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, the Northern Premier, and the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello and the Premier of Western Region and the Aare Onakakanfo of Yorubaland, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola.
The region earned the sobriquet ‘Wild, Wild West’ due to the inferno that gulped the region as a result of the Action Group (AG) crisis which pitched Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the leader with his enstranged deputy, Chief Akintola. It was the Nzegwu coup that brought the crisis to an end.
Events in the Fourth Republic especially at this terminal point gives room for much concern. Besides the unending and unnecessary dispute between the President and his vice, the situation in Oyo State deserves every patriotic Nigerian’s concern.
There is striking similarity between the 1966 crisis and what is happending four decades after. The dramatis personae involved in the 1966 crisis were from the same party, the AG; the leader and his deputy. In the case of the present scenario, even though they are from the same party, one is elected, Governor Rasidi Ladoja, while the other, a political godfather, Chief Lamidi Adedibu is only a “political garrison commander”.
Chief Adedibu, the Ekarun of Ibadanland instigated the illegal impeachment of the governor by the state House of Assembly which eventually nullified by the Appeal Court and confirmed by the Supreme Court. Even after the courts’ verdicts, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) unelected chieftain threatened that it was over his dead body that Governor Ladoja would be reinstated.
Attempts were made to frustrate his reinstatement by going to a High Court in Ibadan after the Supreme Court pronouncement but that also failed.
Now the Ibadan chief with the convince of the police is frustrating the governor by turning the hallow chambers of the House of Assembly into their house by moving in there in the morning and leaving in the evening.
The pro- Adedibu legislators with the assistance of the police, the PDP and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), have declared the seats of the pro-Ladoja legislators vacant even when there is a subsisting court order.
PDP has become irredeemably lawless and selective in their attitude to issues in the country. But for the judiciary, the situation in the good book of the Abuja powers would be dealt with summarily.
Besides the desecration of the House of Assembly, the legislators have proved to be a pawn in the hands of the Ibadan chief.
The situation raises some pertinent questions. Can’t our leaders learn from the mistakes of the past, especially the episode in Western Region? Is the whole episode not meant to get through the back door, the rejected third term project?
By now candidates should be getting ready to campaign on issues that will positively affect the lives of Nigerians. By now the Nigerians should be abreast of what party flagbearers plan to do. But rather, what has taken the centre stage is the altecation between the President the PDP, from every indication, is scheming for a state of emergency in Oyo State so that they will install a stooge to do their bidding. Can the center of the South-West, Oyo state afford any crisis now?
As a Yoruba man what has the president done to ensure constitutionality. Nobody is asking the President to do anything extraordinary but to ensure constitutionalism.
The National Assembly should thwart any effort at declaring any state of emergency in any part of the country. Our leaders should know that power is transient and regardless of whatever position anybody holds today will become history.
It will be a dangerous precedent for this government to encourage and condone thuggery and lawlessness. Governor Ladoja should be allowed to run the full course of his tenure because he was elected by the electorate.
AGBOOLA is on the staff of OSUN DEFENDER.