The Nigerian military has declared that it does not have any political ambition that could nudge it into staging a coup against a democratically elected government. The declaration was made in a statement signed by Brigadier-General JA Agim, Acting Director of Public Relations.
The statement was a response to the comment by the Deputy Senate President, Mr. Ike Ekweremadu, during a debate on a motion sponsored by Mr. Ahmed Ogembe, the senator representing Kogi Central Senatorial District.
Mr. Ekweremadu, among other things, was quoted to have 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.”
While acknowledging that the Deputy Senate President's comment may be cautionary and sincere, the DHQ considered the mention of the Army and by extension, the Armed Forces of Nigeria, derogatory. It called on Nigerians and the international community to disregard Mr. Ekweremadu's apprehension.
"The statement in the true sense has the capacity to denigrate the Nigerian military in every ramification, including its loyalty to the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and the confidence of the general public to defend Nigeria’s democracy.
"In the light of this, the Defence Headquarters wishes to state clearly that the Nigerian military has come of age and is in tune with best international military practices of complete and total subordination to democratic governance," said the statement.
The DHQ explained that some measures were taken in the past to depoliticize the Armed Forces.
It recalled that after the transition from a military to a democratically elected government in 1999, quasi-political military officers were eased out of service as a way of avoiding the indoctrination of other officers and enable the democratic government to commence a re-professionalization process of the Armed Forces.
"The process commenced in collaboration with international organizations such as the United States Armed Forces and the British Military. By 2009, from the basic military training institutions through units and formation reorientation programmes to top management workshops and seminars for the military, it became clear that the Armed Forces of Nigeria have been re-professionalized to be totally subordinate to political leadership and democracy in the country," said the DHQ.
In addition, it stated that the Nigerian military began to take the lead in ensuring democratic stability in West Africa through military diplomacy and physical actions, where necessary, and supported by the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). "The case of the Gambia last year is still fresh in our memories, where democracy was enforced by an ECOWAS Military Coalition, led by the Armed Forces of Nigeria, under the focused and able leadership of Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff, General AG Olonisakin.
"Furthermore, the present crop of personnel in the Armed Forces of Nigeria, right from the service chiefs to the men, is made up of the balance of re-professionalized officers and fresh intakes from 1999, who do not nurse political ambitions.
"They are fully committed to their oaths of allegiance to serve their fatherland Nigeria, with total submission to our democratic government," the DHQ added.
It assured the international community, Nigeria's democratic institutions and Nigerians in general of its loyalty to the President and Commander-in-Chief and willingness to support the sustenance of the country's democracy.