Political Science Project Topics

Politicization of the Military and It Implication on Democracy Using Imo State as Case Study




Background of the study

The military’s extrication from political involvement is a necessary component of what is referred to as the “liberal tradition” of civil–military relations. However, in order for this to be a reality, there must be a tacit agreement among the state’s political elites that the military is an organ of the state that has continued legitimacy and relevance.Military occupation is not the road to democracy.Democracy is as much a social phenomenon as a political one. It is not surprising that military occupation is not the royal road to democracy and the rule of law. A politicized military exercises loyalty to a single political party and/or consistently advocates for and defends partisan political positions and fortunes. Knowing that partisan intentions do not inform professional military advice also allows elected officials to trust the expertise and advice provided by senior officers. In other words, the democratically elected representatives of the people would not be able to count on the faithful execution of national security policy if the military expressly favored the other party. Such conditions would break down the public’s confidence in either the disfavored party or in the military itself and damage the functioning of the government.

As an example, Andreas Schedler (1998) cited in E. E. Obioha (2016) posits that many ex-authoritarian polities that had military regimes are in danger of democratic collapse because of a threshold problem. This occurs when civilian governments are continually observed and monitored by the military. If civilian governments have a performance-legitimacy problem, the military will develop a tendency to reassert itself either through the threat of intervention or through an outright coup. Such tendencies generate political uncertainty and may erode the democratic gains a transitional state achieves. In other cases, the military may intervene and reverse the course of democratic reforms by assisting civilian leaders in assuming power in autogolpes (as occurred in Peru under Fujimori) or by completely rigging election results and openly supporting civilian leaders with whom the military has an ideological connection (as occurred in Paraguay and Madagascar).In certain cases, endless coup plots against the state are foiled by loyalist segments of the military, which makes civilian governments chronically unstable, compelling the state to temporarily or permanently curtail basic freedoms and rights of citizens to neutralize the factional military threat. In other countries, the historical institutionalization of the military as a vanguard institution of reform and change gives it the justification to impose a revolving-door policy of intermittent intervention in politics.

However, the political and ruling elite in Nigeria have politicized the military, forgetting the implication of the military to the democratic consolidation. Government by unelected foreigners who have seized power through force is the polar opposite of democratic.The use of force to impose order, involving detention without trial and other abnormal, though often necessary, measures is the reverse of the rule of law. The most benevolent occupier therefore finds that they are obliged to operate on the principle of “Do as I say and not as I do”, which is usually the least convincing way to convert people. The enormous role the military holds in public life here has consequences beyond the positions officers hold, and is affecting both how the law is applied and how Nigerians view their own democracy.

Therefore it is upon this premise this study examine  Politicization of the Military and it implication on Democracy.


Statement of the problem

In 48 of the 58 years since Nigeria won independence from Britain, it has been led either by a general or by someone with a link to the military. The exceptions were in the first five and half years of Nigeria’s modern existence, and then during the leadership of Goodluck Jonathan. Jonathan, who made history in 2015 as the only incumbent in Nigeria to lose an election, only rose to the presidency when his boss, Umaru Yar’Adua (the younger brother of, you guessed it, a general), died of an illness. Surprisingly, when these military men transcribed to democratic leaders, the evidence never ceases to show in their approach to leadership.

Nigeria’s political structure has thrust too much authority into the hands of the president, and few updates have been made to the country’s constitution, which is little changed from when the military handed over power. “Nigeria’s constitution … has managed to over-concentrate power at the center, à la military command, rendering other operating units weak and ineffective. As president, Obasanjo routinely instigated impeachments of state governors who refused to do his bidding, and attempted, unsuccessfully, to extend his tenure beyond the two terms presidents here are limited to (a former chairman of Nigeria’s human-rights watchdog has claimed that Obasanjo tried to bribe lawmakers to do so). Buhari, whose deputy is a law professor, has shown a spectacular disdain for the courts. Under his watch, secret police arrested judges in a midnight raid and detained journalists. In January 2019, the president suspended the chief justice, an unconstitutional move. And last summer, he told a room full of lawyers, including the now-suspended judge, that the “rule of law must be subject to the supremacy of the nation’s security and national interest.”(Eromo E. 2019). The apex of it is when these democratically elected leaders now use the military to torture those who elected them, as in the case of deploying troops to local villages under the guise of one operation with funny captions (such as crocodile smile, python dance, and many others) aimed at eliminating a specific ethnic group rather than fighting terrorism, it becomes imperative that we are losing our way.Thus, if democracy must be consolidated, the military must restrain itself in the political arena in order for democracy to survive. And also, democratic elected leaders must refrain from using the military as a political tool to achieve their power interest. Therefore, it is against the backdrop that this study is set to examine the politicization of the military and its implications on democracy.

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Objective of the study

The main objective of this study is to examine politicization of the military and its implication on democracy. Specifically it will investigate if the military involvement in the politics of democratic regime is still evidenced. It will investigate if  military being used by politicians to promote their power interest has been detrimental to the masses and undermine the true value of democracy.

Research Hypothesis

The research is guided by the following hypothesis

H01: Military involvement in politics has not undermine the principles of true democracy in Nigeria

H02: Politicization of the military by the ruling class has no implication on consolidation of democracy.

Significance of the study

The study will be relevant to political actors, the ruling elites and the military body. To political actors and ruling , the study will enlighten the on the need to refrain from engaging the military excessively in the affairs of this country except when it involves internal insurrection as this can lead the military to hunger for power at such compromise by taking over power.

To the military body, the study will enable to understand the scope of their job, and not yield to statesmen who desire to use them as a tool to fight innocent electorates to promote their power interest. The study will enlighten them on the need to be more disciplined and strategic in knowing thier priority which is on quelling external aggression rather than misplaced priority of involving with civilians.

Finally, the study will add to the body of literature on this subject; it will serve as a reference material for other researchers and give opportunity for further research in this area.

 Scope  of the study

The scope of this study borders on  politicization of the military and its implication on democracy.The study is limited to Imo State, Nigeria

Limitation of the study

The study encountered various militating factors which posed as a limitation such as:

Financial constraint– Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint– The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

Definition of terms

Military: A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with its members identifiable by their distinct military uniform.

Democracy: Democracy refers to two forms of government: The most common form in which the people have the authority to choose their governing legislators and the original form in which the people have the authority to decide on legislation.

Politicization: Politicization is the action of causing an activity or event to become political in character or giving it a political tone.



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