Malian soldiers mutinied on Sunday and toppled president Amadou Toumani Toure, alleging failure of the government to adequately equip them to tackle the Touareg insurgency in the northern part of the country. Yesterday, the Senate debated a motion on the Malian coup, sponsored by Senate leader Victor Ndoma-Egba (PDP, Cross River), and urged the mutineers to restore power to the democratically elected Toure.
During the debate, senators said the only way Nigeria could avoid the Mali experience was to ensure good governance and improve the electoral system.
“Nigeria should draw lessons from the unfortunate incident in Mali which had a sustainable democracy for about 32 years. We need democratic deliverables and a strong action against military insurrections to prevent such occurrences in Nigeria,” Deputy Senate Leader Abdul Ningi (PDP, Bauchi Central) said.
Senator James Manager (PDP, Delta South) said the Mali incident should serve as an eye-opener for Nigeria and other African nations.
He said for Nigeria to avoid a similar experience, President Jonathan’s administration must provide good governance to permanently keep the military in the barracks.
For his part, Senator Ganiyu Solomon (ACN, Lagos West) urged for the strengthening of the nation’s electoral system as a way of sustaining democracy.
Senator Muhammed Sani Saleh (CPC, Kaduna Central) said Nigeria must not send troops to Mali because the soldiers are already overstretched at home.
“The Nigerian military is overstretched. We should not deploy our military personnel to Mali because they are already overstretched in internal operations,” he said.
“Otherwise, what happened in Mali might happen here. We need to equip and strengthen our military to be able to assist us more in maintaining law and order.”
Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South) said the coup in Mali had serious security implications for Nigeria.
“Beyond condemning it, the Nigerian government should wield all its influence and power to pressure the mutineers to restore the democratic government,” he said.
Opening the debate earlier, Ndoma-Egba said, “Let’s treat the Mali example as a mutiny and insurrection to allow the government of Toure to continue. The mutineers should be given two weeks within which to comply, failure of which President Goodluck Jonathan will sever diplomatic relations with Mali.”
The Senate resolved to urge the mutineers in Mali to restore the democratically elected government immediately. It said regional body ECOWAS, European Union, African Union, United Nations and other international bodies would impose appropriate sanctions on the country if the soldiers refuse to give up power.
Rounding up the debate, Senate President David Mark said, “Nigeria needs to show exemplary leadership by deeds. Coup plotters are always spurred by undemocratic civilians.
“Military coup used to be infectious in the past, but now, it has been considered an aberration all over the world. If the military come in, they will be forced to go and if they don’t do, they will be forced out. The assurance by the Chief of Army Staff that the military will not take over the control of government in Nigeria is correct.”
The Senate also commended the just concluded presidential election in Senegal, where opposition candidate Macky Sall defeated incumbent Abdullahi Wade in a run-off.
The Senate said the election of Sall, a Christian in a country with over 95 per cent of the population being Muslim, should serve as a lesson to Nigerian leaders on the need for ethno-religious harmony.
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