History Of Military Intervention And Administration In Nigeria

Project and Seminar Material for International Relations

History Of Military Intervention And Administration In Nigeria


The aim of this study is to examine the history of military intervention and administration in Nigeria. The study is a cross-sectional study conducted in the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria. A total of 16 structured questionnaires were used in the study. The questionnaires contained about 16 structured questions which were divided into sections A and B. The data were analyzed using SPSS software. The results showed that the military has made considerable progress during military interventions. It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the Nigerian government, as the study seeks to enumerate the historical of military rule in Nigeria government and the negative implication of militarism. Also, there is the need to evolve a fair and just revenue allocation system that would give due recognition to all interacting peoples, especially the groups which provide the bulk of the national revenue.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

The bedrock for military coups and leadership in Nigeria and many other countries slowly corroded as a result of the pressure mounted on political belief that people of different social classes, religions, races, etc should live together in a society like Nigeria, Africa, Asia and Latin America, etc, Dudely 1982. The strength of the procedures of the development of an increasingly integrated global economy, a multiple-dimensional interesting capitalist, led to the victory of the forces of capital over the limiting forces of the state. For this reason, the economic consequences for political firmness in such regions of the globe unavoidably led to pressures for political transformation or change. Military era, like the civilian-led autocratic regimes, got to an increasing degree on the movement by soldiers away from their enemies either because the enemies are winning, due to agitations from within and the international community, Alaba 1978.

It became a continuous incident five years after independence, not too long after, military era become an institution or fixed. Since 1966, when the military took over power, it has subdued, changing form and time, therefore becoming a standard rather than a place where a rule does not apply. As a system that was meant to correct every problem, military governments are the same, but in method of operation, they differ significantly, Alaba 1987. Especially, some are gracious, favorable, others are draconic and some fall in-between. On intervals, and for twenty-eight years, the military called the shots in Nigeria’s political history; and as a result, professionalism was sent into exile, coups gained ground, careers and lives were destroyed.

Importantly, they became part of the trouble and challenge; thirty -four years ago, that is, in 1966, some army majors and other officers slaughtered some civilian politicians and senior military officers in a coup. In that coup, Sir Abubakar Tafawa-Balewa, the first Prime Minister; Sir Ahmadu Bello, Sardaunan Sokoto and Northern Premier; Chief Festus Okotie Eboh, the Federal Minister of Finance, and Chief Samuel Akintola, the Premier of Western Region, were bitterly and roughly slaughtered. To add to this, Brigadier, Zakari Maimalari, Colonels Kur Mohammed and Abogo Lagema gave up the ghost. Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu led the coup, and in his address to the Nation, he stated why they struck. According to him, they interposed to completely delete out corruption, unfair practices by powerful people and to lift Nigeria to the next level.

Though, the first Prime Minister, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and other leading officials were slaughtered, the coup was not successful. In Lagos, General Aguiyi Ironsi, the then highest-ranking military officer, ended the protest. With some officers and Men that showed constant support, Ironsi uncovered the coupists, and in Kaduna, Nzeogwu was on one limb. With little or no logistics, a fresh supply was stopped, as both Kano and Lagos, where the coup did not survive denied his orders. After several representations and assurances, Nzeogwu surrendered his arms, went to Lagos and was nabbed and detained. After that, Honourable Nwafor Orizu, the Senate president, got in touch with some Ministers and handed power to General Ironsi. Many Months later, there was a opposing -coup, and in that opposing- coup, General Ironsi together with and LT-Colonel was slayed. Yakubu Gowon, the highest-ranking Northerner, took over Ironsi. He ruled for nine years, through the civil war and the oil boom, and overthrown in 1975.

Gowon who was way young and lacked experience depended on the civil servants, and they became very strong and powerful. Permanent secretaries pointed out the harmony while ministers and political appointees watched. With the defeat, Murtala carried outmovement, listed out his top priorities and assured a hand over date of 1st October 1979. Though, Murtala was murdered in a coup. The leader of the group was Lt. Colonel Bukar sukar Dimka. On October 1,1979, power was taken to an appointed president, Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Usman Shagari. By December, 31, 1983, the second Republic was floored, as a coup organized by some senior officers was relatively peaceful, and successful. In a year and eight months’ time, in 1985 precisely, they were impeached by their colleagues. Again, Abacha brought the bad news, referencing lack of consultation and insensitivity as reasons why they struck.

The last military regime (1998-1999) arranged a brief movement programme that reached the end of the final result in the emergence of an appointed civilian government under Olusegun Obasanjo, a retired general and one-time military head of state. The process also attested the participation of a good number of retired military officers who had engaged offices in the recent military eras. The administration completed its two tenors of four years each and handed over power to another civilian government in May 2007. This is known to be the longest duration that a civilian era has attained so far since 1960, Udogu 2002. Years back, arms of the broken civilian elite, retired and serving military officers secretly planned in December 1983 to remove a civilian government in Nigeria from power. In the democratic regime, a new kind of civil-military relations was birthed. The military has stood in the barracks and a civilian-led allotment endures within a more or less democratic structure.

1.2 Statement of the General Problem

The research problem, emanates from the statement and view of the previous Nigerian President that the days of “Military coup d’etat’ were gone forever in Nigeria, that democracy has come to stay…it is now clear to all Nigerians that there is no substitute for democracy” said Obasanjo (2007). The nine years of democratic practice in Nigeria has been faced with considerable problems, reminiscences of militarism. We had witnessed incidences such as the order by President ‘Yar Adua’ to close Channels Television for allegedly informing the public that he was likely to resign on account of poor health, forceful closure of the previous Vice President (‘Atiku Abubakar’s)’ office by former President ‘Obasanjo’ and the Gestapo removal of the Mr. ‘Audu Ogbe’ as the Chairman of the ruling party all within a democratic setting.

It is very instructive to state, that good governance is the only panacea against military intervention at the level of supplantment (complete substitution of civil authority by military rule and law) while bad governance is an invitation to it. The fact remains that militarized psyche is a problem to democracy, more disturbing is the fact that other African countries such as Ghana had their share of militarism yet has become the democratic college for West Africans.

This would guide the discourse herein. Social environment has been known to condition the behavioral dispositions of the individuals. The social environment, which has had considerable impact on the psyche of Nigerians, has seen the long years of military rule, herein referred to as militarism. The militarized social culture being displayed in the democratic dispensation is not unconnected with this. The political behaviors currently displayed in the democratic space, is the dialectical phase of militarism. The analysis, which follows, evaluates this assertion.

1.3 Aims and Objectives of the Study

The major aim of the study is to examine the history of military intervention and administration in Nigeria. Other specific objectives of the study are;

  1. To examine the negative implications of military interventions in Nigeria.
  2. To assess the progress made by the military during military interventions.
  3. To determine the factors that has necessitated the intervention of the military in Nigerian administration.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What are the negative implications of military interventions in Nigeria?
  2. What is the progress made by the military during military interventions?
  3. What are the factors that have necessitated the intervention of the military in Nigerian?

1.5 Significance of the Study

It is believed that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the Nigerian government, as the study seek to enumerate the history of military rule in Nigeria government and the negative implication of military rule. The study will also be of importance to the civilian administration as the study will be of great importance to the civilian administration as the study will guide them to take reference from the short coming of the military administration, the study will also be useful to researcher who intends to embark on study on similar topic as the study will serve as a reference point for further study. The study will also be of great importance to the student, lecturers, students and the general public as the study will add to the pool of available literature.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of this study covers the history of military intervention and administration in Nigerian. In the cause of the study there were some factors which limited the scope of the study:

a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher has to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Finance:

The finance available for the research work does not allow for wider coverage as resources are very limited as the researcher has other academic bills to cover.

1.7 Definition of Terms

Military Rule

A military dictatorship is a form of government different from civilian dictatorship for a number of reasons: their motivations for seizing power, the institutions through which they organize their rule, and the ways in which they leave power

Military Administration

Military administration identifies both the techniques and systems used by military departments, agencies, and Armed Services involved in the management of the armed forces.


intervention comes from the Latin intervenire, meaning “to come between, interrupt.” Often an intervention is intended to make things better, like the US government’s intervention to give food and aid to Haiti after the earthquake.

1.9 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  1. Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  2. Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study its based, thus the review of related literature.
  3. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  4. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  5. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study wasto investigate the history of military intervention and administration in Nigeria.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing the challenges of military intervention and administration in Nigeria.

5.2 Summary

It has been established that but for the existence of a common authority with abundant coercive powers the geo-political entity (a Colonial creation) known as Nigeria would have disintegrated a few years after independence. No development illustrates this better than the fratricidal civil war fought in the country between 1967 and 1970. The successful prosecution of the civil war by the FMG has been discouraging overt centrifugal tendencies while the strengthening of its hold on political power ensured some sort of political integration. It is our belief that in a plural society like Nigeria, political integration of the various groups cannot be forcefully sustained for long. And this is why the nation has been perpetually under the strain and stress of diverse covert and overt centrifugal forces in recent times. Equity, justice, fairplay, respect for fundamental rights, and real federalism (political and fiscal) would constitute more enduring bases of national integration. But these are attributes that were scarce under military regimes in Nigeria. Although the military evolved policies, like Quota System and Federal Character, ostensibly to facilitate political integration allegations of favouratism dogged their implementation. Thus, instead of being integrative forces as touted, they ended up causing disaffection between the favoured groups and the less privileged ones. The result was a fragile political entity that has been perpetually at the brink of disintegration. The hangover effect of prolonged military rule could be seen in violent conducts, intolerance and a highly militarized social polity where dastardy acts feature prominently and regularly. Rather than advance the cause of nation building in a fundamental manner the military only came up with the self-serving, expedient cosmetic and adventitious formulas that ended up being more fractious and divisive. The situation has been growing worse progressively since the military handed over power to civilians in 1999.

5.3 Conclusion

Democratic regimes in new states are fragile in developing countries, whether they were established at the dawn of independence by agreement with a collapsing imperial power or after a period of domestic authoritarianism under military domination. The governance based on these narrow minded representative institutions is unlikely to function normally. These regimes cannot cope with crises effectively: a group of military officers supported by civil servants and by deeply disaffected popular forces often respond to a crisis by seizing democratic representative power. The institutional design of these weak democracies correlates with the success of military coups. Almost all of developing countries experienced at least one catastrophic breakdown such as, suspension of the constitutions, the abolition of legislature, and rule by appointed officials, and led by military officers directly. The rule by military officers continues for a short period of time but, its impact continues and brings uncertainty to the expectations of people in the long range.

5.4 Recommendations

Haven completed the study, the researcher recommends that there is therefore a crying need to demilitarize entirely the polity and enthrone genuine democracy in which the people’s voice will count. Also there is the need to evolve a fair and just revenue allocation system that would give due recognition to all interacting peoples, especially the groups which provide the bulk of the national revenue. It is our belief that a Sovereign National Conference will go a long way in facilitating this new orientation.

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