Military Rule In Nigeria
There have been a number of recorder Military coups, which led to military rule, in Nigeria since the country gained its independence from the British Empire. Nigeria gained Independence on the first of October, 1960.
MEANING OF MILITARY COUP
Military Coup, also known as, Coups D’état or Coup D’états, is usually a violent overthrow of an existing government by the military.
HISTORICAL BACKGROUND OF MILITARY RULE IN NIGERIA
Between 1966 and 1999, the army held power in Nigeria without interruption apart from a short-lived return to democracy from 1979-1983
The first military coup in Nigeria took place on January 15, 1966. The coup was led by Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu and other majors in the army. It was a bloody military intervention in the political history of Nigeria. Some key political leaders, e.g., the Prime minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, premier of western region Sir Ladoke Akintola, the minister of finance, Chief Okotie Eboh, premier of northern region Sir Ahmadu Bello and many other top ranking officers in the armed forces were killed.
The July 1966 coup, popularly known as the Nigerian Counter-Coup of 1966, saw Major-General Gowon succeed Ironsi. It lasted from July 28 to July 30th, 1966.
On July 30, 1975, General Yakubu Gowon was ousted in a palace coup which brought the then Brigadier [Murtala Muhammed] to power as Head of State.
There was another coup in 1976. The coup is popularly and erroneously known as the ‘Dimka Coup‘. This bloody and aborted coup led to the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed. Upon General Muhammed’s death and the foiling of the coup, then Lt General Olusegun Obasanjo became Head of State.
The Nigerian Military Coup of December 31, 1983 was led by a group of senior army officers who overthrew the democratically elected government of President Shehu Shagari. Participants included Majors General Ibrahim Babangida and Muhammadu Buhari, Brigadiers Ibrahim Bako, Sani Abacha, and Tunde Idiagbon. Major General Buhari was appointed Head of State by the conspirators.
In August 1985, there was another palace coup led by then Chief of Army Staff, Major General Ibrahim Babangida who overthrew the administration of Major General Muhammadu Buhari.
In December, 1985, Hundreds of military officers were arrested; some were tried, convicted and eventually executed for conspiring to overthrow the Babangida administration. The conspirators were alleged to have been led by Major General Mamman Jiya Vatsa.
In 1990, Major Gideon Orkar staged a violent and failed attempt to overthrow the government of General Ibrahim Babangida.
The 1993 coup resulted from the pressure on General Ibrahim Babangida to shift towards a democratic government. Babangida resigned and appointed Ernest Shonekan as interim president on 26 August 1993. Shonekan’s transitional administration only lasted three months, as a result of a palace coup led by General Sani Abacha. On September 1994, General Sani Abacha issued a decree that placed his government above the jurisdiction of the courts, effectively giving him absolute power
REASONS FOR MILITARY INTERVENTION IN NIGERIA
- Tribal loyalty
- Regional differences
- Politicisation of the army:
- Dispute over census result:
- Unacceptable election results
- Low level of economic development:
ACHIEVEMENTS OF MILITARY RULE IN NIGERIA
- Infrastructural development: Such as construction of roads, airports, bridges, establishment of institutions, etc.
- Breaking into units: The military prevented the country from breaking into units, e.g., civil war.
- States creation: The military succeeded in the creation of states and local government councils.
- Nigerian foreign policy: The military brought about a positive change in the Nigerian foreign policy.
- Local government reforms: This was done in 1976 and 1990 making it a one-tier local government structure.
- Promotion of national integration: The NYSC, federal government schools, etc were established to promote national integration.
- Mass oriented programmes: Programmes like DEFRI, NDE, OFN, werev massively initiated.
- Education: Education took a giant stride during the military rule. Many federal and state universities and polytechnics were set up.
Weaknesses of Military Regime in Nigeria
- Incompetent personnel: The military regime constituted military personnel who lacked administrative and political experience to govern.
- Non-tolerance to criticism: the military government does not tolerate criticism.
- Dictatorship: All military administrations are dictators.
- Independence of the judiciary: The military regimes rendered the judiciary powerless.
- The Nigerian civil war: The military rule was responsible for the civil war that claimed millions of lives.
- Corruption: There was wide spread corruption among those in the corridor of power.
- Mismanagement of public funds: Funds were mismanaged through massive importation.
- Violation of human rights: Military rule are noted for violating fundamental human rights.
- No respect for the rule of law since the military is conducted without a constitution.
EFFECTS OF MILITARY RULE ON NIGERIA’S ECONOMY
According to analysts, the economic effects of military rule were disastrous. Nigeria’s traditional agricultural based economy was abandoned and the country became extremely dependent on exports of oil, which due to frequent fluctuations in oil prices led to an unstable economy. The Babangida regime was characterised by “gross incompetence and unbridled, waste and mismanagement, the privatisation of public office and public resources, the neglect of non-oil sectors and misplaced priorities. Essentially the focus was on the private sector as opposed to the good of the nation.
As a result of the military economic policy of the 1980s, 45% of foreign-exchange earnings were going into debt servicing and there was very little growth. This led to a rise in poverty, crime, child abuse, disease, institutional decay and urban dislocation. The instability and dissatisfaction caused by these policies was one of the causes of the consistent pattern of coups.
Measures that Could be Taken To Prevent Military Intervention in Nigeria
- Military intervention should be outlawed.
- There should accountability on the part of politicians in government.
- Politics should be played according to laid down rules and regulations.
- Ethnic politics should be avoided by politicians.
- There should be good leadership on the part of all elected officials.
- Mismanagement of public funds should be avoided.
- There should be free and fair elections.
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