Coups by day and coups by night!

Coups by day and coups by night! by Chukwudi Adepoju

In a few days, Nigerians all over the world will mark (or completely ignore) the anniversary of the very first military coup that took place on the shores of their beloved Nigeria. That coup on 15 January 1966 was a rude introduction to forceful government takeovers, and the country experienced quite a number of them after this initial one.

I won’t go into details about every one of these coups but suffice it to say that for four decades (1960 till the year 2000) there were numerous military coups all over Africa, South East Asia and Latin America. As can be expected in the polarised world of “the Cold War”, ‘the Western bloc’ and ‘the Eastern bloc’ supported and actually sponsored some of these coups in the developing world, but that is not my focus today.

As a lifelong student of history growing up in my father’s library, I noticed a rather interesting trend with practically all the coups and revolutions happening all through those decades. For some really weird reason, the radio stations were extremely important to all the stakeholders. In fact, one of the first targets of any group of adventurous coup plotters was the radio station with the widest coverage. And as can be expected, if the troops loyal to the sitting government are able to regain control of the main radio station, the coup was as good as foiled.


Burundian riot police drive past the offices of Burundi’s main independent radio station African Public Radio (RPA) in Bujumbura on April 29, 2015, after it was shut down by the authorities on April 27.  AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA

To prove that important point, you will always find fully armed soldiers stationed outside Nigeria’s radio stations, especially after that practical prank was played out in 1965 by a “mystery gunman” who took over the region’s radio station in Ibadan and spent some prime time lambasting the government of the day. (NB: I did not mention Wole Soyinka o, but you can Google it).

Fast forward to just ten years into the new millennium, and instead of only seeing armed military men, you also see multi-million dollar internet surveillance equipment policing social media in the Middle East, in Asia as well as in North Africa. Of course the big NSA in “God’s own country” could as well be reading this as I am typing it. Good for them. The undeniable fact is that “the radio station” is sometimes social media platforms in each country.

The point, my sister, is that the defence of a country (or indeed that of a city) is in the control of its communication channels. Was it not radio that set Rwanda aflame in 1994?

Who is in control of your radio station? That person is your ruler. Simple!

And if you think I’m not talking to you, my brother, think again. The Bible actually compares a man’s spirit to a city. Proverbs 25:28 states that “He that has no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls”.

If the spirit of a man is like a city, in practical terms therefore, the defence must be like that of the most fortified city, especially in this age of #hashtags.

As small as a radio station is, in brick and mortar terms, many governments went to great lengths to protect them. As small as a #hashtag is, it has rallied revolutionaries and toppled governments in different parts of the world.

Christians with my Pentecostal inclination are nodding their heads right now, remembering how they have been advised to be careful what they listen to.

But I’m really not talking about watching what you hear, as important as that is.

What looks to me to be more important in securing the city that you are, is that you watch what transmits out of your radio station. It’s not your ear now that matters, but your mouth. Proverbs says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue…” (Proverbs 18:21). James went further to say that even when the tongue is not determining death and life, it is the steering of the vehicle that is my life. It determines the path I follow. If I turn my tongue left, my life goes left; if I turn my tongue right, my life goes right.

We sometimes forget that Jesus did not just say we should watch what (or how) we hear, but he actually said “What comes out of a man is what either justifies him or condemns him” (Matthew 12:37). By your (own) words, from your (own) transmitting station, you set the forces of heaven in motion to secure your city or to pull it down.

Public relations professionals (and army generals) will gladly tell you about the importance of “owning the message”, or in crude terms, controlling the ‘propaganda’. Both Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill made impressive use of their radio coverage.

I’m determined that I won’t let the radio station of my life be hijacked by any small “coup plotter”.

I’m determined that whether it’s by day, or by night, I will only broadcast the words that will lift me and secure my life.

I’m determined that I won’t leave my radio unguarded.

I will watch my tongue, and make it produce only life for me and mine.

Whether by day or by night, no coup shall succeed in my life.

Chukwudi Adepoju is @adechuks on twitter.

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