The Role of the Military in Nigeria Politics

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  • Topic: Nigeria, Military dictatorship, Yakubu Gowon
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THE ROLE OF THE MILITARY IN NIGERIA
POLITICS

BY
IRABOR IKECHUKWU EMMANUEL.
MPA 822.

THIS IS SUBMITTED TO THE DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AND PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION IN PARTIAL FUFILLMENT OF THE AWARD OF DEGREE OF MASTERS IN PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION (MPA). UNIVERSITY OF BENIN.

LECTURER
DR EBOHON
JANUARY, 2012

INTRODUCTION
The role of the military in Nigeria politics cannot be over looked. We are going to analyse this issue from 1966-1979, 1983-1999 and their role in present day democracy. The Federation of Nigeria, as it is known today, has never really been one homogeneous country, for its widely differing peoples and tribes. This obvious fact notwithstanding, the former colonial master decided to keep the country one in order to effectively control her vital resources for their economic interests. Thus, for administrative convenience the Northern and Southern Nigeria were amalgamated in 1914.   Thereafter the only thing this people had in common was the name of their country since each side had different administrative set - up. This alone was an insufficient basis for true unity. Under normal circumstances the amalgamation ought to have brought the various peoples together and provided a firm basis for the arduous task of establishing closer cultural, social, religious, and linguistic ties vital for true unity among the people. There was division, hatred, unhealthy rivalry, and pronounced disparity in development. This and so many others were the political arena before the advent of the military in Nigeria politics. 1966- 1979

The Federation was sick at birth and by January 1966, the sick, bedridden babe collapsed. From independence to January 1966, the country had been in a serious turmoil; this situation led to a coup in January 15th 1966. This I will call the cosmology of the military in Nigeria politics. The aim of the coup was to establish a strong, unified and prosperous nation, free from corruption and internal strife. The outcome of the half-hearted and ill-fated coup was a change of political balance in the country. Major Nzeogwu’s (the leader of the coup) aims for the coup was not borne out of its method, style and results. All the politicians and senior military officers killed were from the North and Western Region except a political leader and a senior Army officer from the Mid - West and the East respectively. The sky high praises of the coup and apparent relief given by it in the south came to a sudden end when the succeeding Military Government of Maj Gen. J.T.U. Aguiyi Ironsi, an Easterner, unfolded its plans. If Ironsi had displayed a greater sensitivity to the thinking of the Northerners, he could have capitalized on the relief that immediately followed the coup. To him, he wanted to create a unitary system because he is from a minority and wanted power for himself. He promoted 21 military officers and 18 were from one region. This led to a counter coup staged by the Northern military officers on 29 July 1966 and brought in Lt. Col. Yakubu Gowon into political office. The following were steps proposed by his administration. 1. Steps should be taken to post military personnel to barracks within their respective regions of origin. 2. A meeting of this committee or an enlarged body should take place to recommend in a broad outline the form of political association which the country should adopt in the future  

3. Immediate steps should be taken to nullify or modify any provisions of any decree which assumes extreme centralization.  4. The Supreme Commander should make conditions suitable for a meeting of the Supreme Military Council urgently as a further means of lowering tension. The first recommendation was implemented on 13 August 1966. Troops of Eastern Nigeria origin serving elsewhere in the country were officially and formally released and posted to Enugu, the capital of Eastern Region, while troops of non-Eastern origin...
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