Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has come under fire over his statement on the possibility of a military coup in the country.
Ekweremadu, while commenting on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, said: “The problem in Nigeria is that our democracy is receding. Who says army cannot take over; let us not joke with our democracy, that is the issue.”
He said this in response to the attack on some of his colleagues and actions which the upper legislative chamber considered undemocratic.
In a swift reaction, the military, however, described the deputy senate president’s comment as derogatory.
Defence Spokesman, John Agim, in a statement on Thursday, had asked the public to “disregard the apprehension” of the lawmaker, noting that though Ekweremadu’s comment might be sincere, it had the capacity to cast shadows of doubt on the military’s loyalty to the president.
The spokesman reminded the public that in line with reforms to usher-in democracy in 1999, the government had taken measures to professionalise the armed forces by retiring politically-inclined officers from service, to meet the demands of an emerging democracy, even as he stressed that the current set of officers were apolitical.
The Enugu state-born politician, yesterday, came under more fire over his vexed comment, with the National Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), Victor Oye, describing statement attributed to Ekweremadu as “an expression of frustration with unsavoury development in the country.”
Addressing journalists on Friday in his office, Oye said the deputy Senate president overreacted in his remarks
He said: “Ekweremadu overreacted, he was emotional; his statement was not well thought out. He acted out of frustration. I must commend the military for reacting maturely.
“He reacted out of disenchantment with the system. I must also commend the federal government for not ordering for his arrest. It shows we are in a democracy. If it were before, the deputy senate president would have been in trouble by now.”
The APGA national chairman, however, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack his cabinet and bring on board people with fresh ideas that could inspire confidence in his administration.
He backed the President’s refusal to sign the Peace Corps Bill into law, stating: “I agree with Mr President, the whole thing is lousy. We need something that is sustainable. Nigerians don’t plan. What is Peace Corps and what value will it add?
“The National Assembly should bring bills that will add value to the people. Buhari should tinker with his cabinet. I still insist that he has the capacity, let him sack the team and bring people who are ready to work for the good of the common people,”
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the APGA chair called on prospective voters to partake in the ongoing Continuous Voter’s Registration, (CVR), as he noted that it was the only tool available to Nigerians to put in place a government of their choice.
“We appeal to all Nigerians, they must go out and register. If you fail to register, you have endorsed anarchy and mediocrity. Nigerians of voting age must go out and register.
“As we speak, many Nigerians live below poverty line and it is terrible. The environment is not there for the survival of the people. The government must create jobs for our youth. We should look inward and apply our enormous resources for the welfare of our people.
“APGA should be the alternative to APC and PDP. Look at Anambra and you can have a picture of what the party can do. We have the capacity to give Nigerians what they want. We will give vent to the federal character principle of the country.”
Also reacting to the statement credited to the deputy senate president, a Pro-Buhari group, the Buhari Media Support Group (BMSG), yesterday said Ekweremadu must withdraw the coup statement, as well as apologise to Nigerians for that “most unfortunate statement.”
Making this call in a press statement in Abuja on Friday, the Buhari Media Support Group expressed disappointment over the comment.
The statement issued by BMSG Coordinator, Austin Braimoh and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, the group said it was disturbed that “a Senator of the Federal Republic would contemplate a coup plot in Nigeria after the country has witnessed almost nineteen years of unbroken democracy.”
It added; “His reference to a coup plot in this dispensation is highly disappointing and clearly appears as an instigation. Definitely his intention while making this comment is suspicious and unpatriotic.
“As a lawmaker and second in command at the nation’s highest law-making body, we expect Senator Ekweremadu to always exercise restraint in his utterances in order to uphold the virtues required of his high office.
“As someone occupying a high office in the country, it is expected that the stability and progress of the country will be uppermost in his mind.”
The group called on the deputy senate president and the Senate as a whole to emulate the qualities of President Muhammadu Buhari, who not only encourages separation of powers, but continues to promote democracy in the country in all his actions.
“We advise Senator Ekweremadu and the Senate to stop equating the inability of politicians to adhere to democratic principles as putting the nation’s democracy in danger. It is indeed strange that the Senate, rather than focusing on its law-making responsibilities, is delving into states’ matters.
“We make bold to say that if indeed the country’s democracy is under threat as Senator Ekweremadu tried to make us believe, then it is an indictment on him as one of the leaders of the Senate, and he should stop passing the buck.”
Similarly, commenting on the Ekweremadu’s comment, the Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria (VON), who is an APC chieftain, Osita Okechukwu, described the statement as “an over-drive.”
He said: “It is an over drive on his part but he should know that in the public office, the tenacity of the legislature has subjective use.
“So, he was dishing out subjective use, but the Defence Headquarters has responded to it. Thank God, the likes of Afenifere, the Ohanaze and many other non-governmental organisations have also condemned the statement.”
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Mr. Kola Olagbodiyan, said he would only make the party’s position known via a press statement soon.