Military rule in Nigeria finished its existence in 1999 when the army general Abdulsalami Abubakar transferred his power to Olusegun Mathew Okikiola Aremu Obasanjo. It was a first person who won the presidential election in Nigeria. 18 years has passed, but the impact of the Military rule in Nigeria is still noticeable in the society!
History Military rule Nigeria
Before Military rule. The First Republic
Nigerians proclaimed the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 1963, and General Nnamdi Azikawe became the first president of the Republic. It was the outset of ethnic and religious tensions in Nigeria! The main disputes about economic and education development of the country erased between the South and the North.
Overall, the country was divided into three geopolitical regions with its dominated parties. The Northern People`s Party (NPC) represented the Northern Regions (Hausa/Fulani). The Western regions (Yoruba) were represented by the Action Group (AG). The Eastern regions (Igbos) were supported by the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons.
Later a new pro-government Yoruba party named the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP) seized control over the Federal Government. Shortly after that, the opposition leader of AG – Chief Obafemi Awolowo was taken into custody without foundation. Therefore, the new power collision between the NPC&NNDP and NCNC&AG was the premises for the Civil War in Nigeria.
Military rule in Nigeria beginning
Young Majors officers consisted mostly of South-Eastern Igbos overthrew the NNDP-NPC Government on the 15th of January 1966. Igbos also assassinated the Prime Minister of Northern regions. Still, the nature of the Young Majors was carried out with another coup led by General Aguiyi-Ironsi. Some Young Majors were arrested, and others fled the country.
General Aguiyi-Ironsi finished the ethnic tensions between Nigerians. Ironsi managed to issue Decree Number 34 initialized to unify the Nation. Still, his idea of abolition of the Federal structure led to another coup in July 1966. This coup established the leadership of Major General Yakubu Gowon, the name of the Federal Republic. Nevertheless, the military rule was followed with series of the massacre in the North. Due to the continued tension between ethnic groups, Major General Yakubu Gowon decided to divide the four regions of Nigeria into 12 states.
On 30 May 1967, Lt. Col. Emeka Ojukwu proclaimed the Republic of Biafra, which started the Nigerian Civil War. It was finished in 1970, but the results of the war can be seen even today. The territory of the former Republic of Biafra, named Iboland, is still a depressive, overpopulated and unemployment area. Later General Yakubu Gowon became a head of the Federal Military Government, and the Nigerian Army established its undisputed rule for many years.
Foreign exchange government revenues extremely increased with oil rise prices in 1974. Still, it did not save General Yakubu Gowon from another coup. He was accused of delaying the promised return to civilian rule and corruption. General Murtama Mohammed became a new leader of Nigeria. One of his first orders was to establish civilian rule by the 1st of October 1979. Nevertheless, he was murdered in 1976 and his chief of staff Lt. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo took his place as a head of state.
It was a second chance for the democracy in Nigeria to come into play. In 1978 Nigerians gained their new constitution and in 1979 five political parties competed in the democracy elections. According to the results of these elections, Alhaji Shehu Shangari of the National Party of Nigeria became a newly elected president.
All five parties were presented in the National Assembly. Still, the results of the elections were not meet approvingly in every state of Nigeria. Therefore, it provoked another tension and speculation over the authority of the head of state.
The Second Republic was overthrown by Major General Muhammadu Buhari on December 31, 1983. He established a new ruling body in the country – the Supreme Military Council (SMC). Later General Ibrahim Babangida peacefully overthrew Major General Muhammadu Buhari on August 1985. According to General Ibrahim Babangida words, there was a plenty of reasons to do so:
- Continued economic crisis;
- Increased tensions between ethnic groups;
- Corruption within SMC;
- No media freedom;
- Violation of human rights.
General Ibrahim Babangida later proclaimed his 15-mouth economic emergency plan, which included:
- Pay cuts to the private sector, civil servants, police, and military;
- Opening of national debates;
- Economic recovery measures.
Ibrahim Babangida set 1990 as a new deadline for the returning of civil elections in the country. He managed to survive an abortive coup but postponed the democracy elections up to 1992. Still, the first democratic elections in ten years were held on 12 June 1993. The victory in these elections was given to Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola.
Nevertheless, Ibrahim Babangida annulated the elections, which led to massive civilian protests. He promoted Ernest Shonekan as a head of interim government. Ibrahim Babangida`s regime is considered the most corrupt in the history of the military rule in Nigeria.
The next military coup was held in 1993. As a result, General Sane Abacha came into power suppressed all civilian unrest in the country. He managed to transfer several hundred million dollars from Nigeria to European banks.
His regime came to an end in 1998, when he died in the villa. His successor, General Abdulsalami Abubakar, adopted a new constitution in 1999 and provided democratic elections on 29 May 1999. According to the results of the elections, he transferred the power to the winner of the elections Obasanjo. Therefore, the military rule in Nigeria officially ended in 1999.
Achievements of Military rule in Nigeria
- Creation of States. The most remarkable achievement for the Military rule in Nigeria was dividing the three-four regions country with endless ethnic clashes into the 36 states of Nigeria.
- Creation of a national currency. The Military rule introduced Naira and Kobo.
- Unification of the Nation. It was not achieved without blood, but Nigeria is the Federal Republic with hundreds of ethnic groups which live in peace.
- Oil and Gas production. Since the 1970s, Nigeria holds leadership positions in Oil&Gas export.
- New constitution written in 1999 provided the current civilian regime in the country.
Advantages of Military rule in Nigeria
- Nigeria remained a united nation. Despite tribal and ethnic conflicts, the Military rule in Nigeria saved the country from further destruction.
- State-controlled Economy. This type of economy provided the concentration of Nigerian economic powers into gas and oil industry. Therefore, it made Nigeria one of the largest exporters of crude oil and natural gas on the market.
- Creating of the strict administrative system. The military rule provided the idea of creating a strict subordinate system between states and established unquestionable control over the population of the states through authorities.
Disadvantages of Military Rule in Nigeria
- Violation of Human rights. During military coups in Nigeria, hundreds of people were captured and stayed in prisons for many years. A lot of people were tortured and killed.
- Corruption. The rise of prices in the 1970s led to the increase in revenues for Nigeria. Still, it also led to the corruption of the government as military leaders stole these revenues. Hundreds of millions of dollars of General Sane Abacha were discovered in 1999.
- No free media. Propaganda worked well during the reign of military rule in Nigeria. Therefore, correspondents who tried to show the truth of life in Nigeria – were killed, imprisoned or forced to leave the country.
Impact of Military rule in Nigeria
Advantages of the Military rule in Nigeria can be seen even today. Nigeria has been a civilian country for almost eighteen years. Democratization processes continue to live within Nigeria. Even so, Nigeria survived as a country and it was an achievement of the military rule, but Nigerian citizens lived through horrors within Juntas Regimes.
Ethnic violence between Nigerians was not established, it was only suppressed. Even now, ethnic groups fight for the control over oil industry in the country. It helped to create various military groups in the country, which terrorize citizens. Few noticeable terrorist groups in Nigeria are Boko Haram and Niger Delta Avengers.
Another big problem for Nigeria is corruption, which also appeared in Nigeria due to Military rule. Millions of dollars were stolen from Nigeria during the rule of Military Juntas. Calculating the amount of money lost due to corruption is impossible.
People suffered a lot during the history of the military rule in Nigeria. Still, the military rule provided challenges to harden citizens of Nigeria in their desire for democratic society.