Socio-Political Effect of Military Rule in Nigeria

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SOCIO-POLITICAL EFFECT OF MILITARY RULE IN NIGERIA
In most developing countries, there is a disruption of the civil-military equilibrium usually assumed in liberal democracies. In liberal tradition, the military is insulated from politics and subject to civilian control. In several developing countries, however, the military has not only intervened in the political process and overthrown the constitutional civilian authority, but it also often has established its supremacy over elected politicians. Even in those countries where the military has become almost a permanent feature of politics, military rule is still considered an aberration and symptomatic of a malfunctioning political system. In Nigeria, which typifies the scenario just presented, military rule was usually seen as a "rescue" operation necessary to save the country from civilian ineptitude. Military rule was not expected to last long; once the rescue operation was complete, the military should return to the barracks where they belonged and leave the governing to civilian politicians. The problem, however, was that although military officers accepted this rationale, military rule usually became self-sustaining.
Nigeria has been ruled by military regimes for almost 30 of its 50 years of independence, with several coups and counter-coups. The putative democracy at independence in 1960 lasted only until 1966 when the first military coup took place. The military retained power from 1966 until 1979, but this was not a period of stability or peace. The Biafra secessionist war lasted from 1967 to 1970 and claimed more than one million lives through violence, starvation, and disease. This war of secession was led by the Igbo (of southeastern Nigeria, including the Delta) due to economic, ethnic, cultural and religious tensions. While not at the root of the attempted secession, the prospect of oil wealth (or the prospect of losing it, as seen from the federal government viewpoint) exacerbated the conflict.

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