Ex President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo has revealed his strategy for ending incessant coups for which Nigeria had come to be known internationally. He said this in his book; ‘Making Africa Work: A handbook for economic success’.
“On assuming office as president [in May 1999], I decided to put an end to the incessant coups.
‘I asked the military to submit the list of all officers who had either participated in coups in the past or benefited in the dividends of coups by being appointed to political office as governors or ministers.
‘Not knowing what the list was meant for, the military faithfully compiled and submitted it to me as the Commander-in-Chief and Chairman of Council of each of the Arms of service”.
“Ninety-three offices in all were given six hours’ notice of retirement on a Friday, and ordered not to spend the Friday night in uniform or in the barracks to prevent adverse reaction. The following Monday, the Service Councils met to ratify the retirement of all the officers. From my vantage position and background as a battle-tested and war-victorious General, I knew that an officer out of uniform and barracks is like a fish out of water, and their power and influence would be greatly diminished.”
“The retirement of 93 officers in one day was salutary. It meant that taking part in a coup or benefiting from one could catch up with you, no matter how long it would take, and for as long as you are alive.”
“The retirement of the 93 officers did not stop them from entering public life, as some went into politics and became state governors, members of the legislature and government ministers. The idea was not to punish them for life but to exclude then from positions in the military so that they would not get involved in coups.
“The fact that since 1999 there has not been a coup or an attempted coup in Nigeria speaks of the effectiveness of the measures taken to put an end to the destabilising influence of coups on the political life and dispensation of Nigeria”, he wrote.
He seemed to admit to the existence of likelihood of coups still in the military, by saying;
“It has neither been easy nor perfect, but there are improvements and evidence of learning among the political class. For those countries with similar experiences, there is a need to find an effective and relatively painless way of curbing the incidence of coups and corruption by the military.”