Political Science Project Topics

The Military and Nigeria Politics: an Assessment of the Domination of the Military of the Nigeria Political Space 1999 to 2015



This study was carried out to examine the military and nigeria politics: an assessment of the domination of the military of the nigeria political space 1999 to 2015. Specifically, the study examine the historical antecedent in Nigeria from 1966 to 1976. the study also investigate The role of military rule in transition to democracy from 1976. lastly, the study evaluate the domination of the military of the Nigeria political space 1999 to 2015. the study was carried out using the historical research analysis. The findings revealed that The domination of the military is still felt in all facets of governance in the country as the military elite accumulated a lot of wealth during their long stay in government. In 1999, when the country returned to civil rule, all the senior officers and Generals retired by President Olusegun Obasanjo were young millionaires. At the time President Obasanjo retired the military officers who held political offices or served during the military era, most of the retired officers were in their forties and fifties. They could not sit down and watch the polity doing nothing. They had interests to protect and it would be difficult to achieve that outside politics. While some went into business, others saw politics as an avenue to further exert their influence. They joined politics, contested, sponsored candidates and bankrolled elections. The military was largely responsible for the emergence of General Olusegun Obasanjo as President in 1999. From 1999 till date, retired military officers have been actively involved in Nigeria’s politics. The military has produced Governors (Prince Olagusoye Oyinlola, Osun State; Jonah Jang, Plateau State), Senators (Senator David Mark, a two term Senate President), Ministers, amongst others. They are playing major roles in business, politics, nation building and peace in the country. The retired military officers have also held sway for 14 years out of the current 21 years in the Fourth Republic.. The study thereby recommend that the political class and elites should not allow a repeat of the country’s experience between 1979 and 1983 that led to the second coming of the military in politics. Also, the socio-economic challenges confronting the country should be objectively addressed with emphasis on the alarming rate of insecurity and unemployment in the country.



Background of the study

The name “Nigeria” was coined by Flora Shaw, who later became the wife of Lord Lugard, the British colonial administrator, on 8 January 1897, which she used as the title of an article in The Times (Meek, 1960), to describe the vast land around the River Niger and its basin. It was then called Niger-area, but after a long usage it was shortened to Nigeria. Mungo Park was exploring the River Niger when he stumbled into this vast area along the River. Nigeria presently has a population of about 150 million people; this made th e country the most populous nation in Sub-Saharan Africa. The country has a population density of 145 inhabitants per km2 (Nigerian National Population Commission: Abuja, Nigeria, 2001).

The country is located on the extreme inner corner of the Gulf of Guinea on the West African coast and there are over 250 nationalities in Nigeria. The three most populous nationalities are: The Yorubas in the South West, Ibos in the South East and the Hausa- Fulanis in the North; these three main nationalities constitute 65% of the population while the remaining 35% are made of minorities (Butts & Metz, 1996). About 250 languages are spoken in Nigeria (Agbaje, 1990), although some studies allude to 400 languages.

The military took over the governance of the country through a very bloody coup led by Major Nzeogwu in January 1966 (Osoba, 1996). This coup was claimed to end the misrule, ineptness and corruption of the preceding five years of the civil rule (Olutayo, 1999). The coup lasted for just a couple of days; it could not be said to be a total failure as “it set(s) the agenda of military rule in Nigeria as a ‘corrective’ form of governance against corruption and indiscipline and in favour of restoration of democracy and justice” (Olutayo, 1999). Nigeria has been governed for a longer period by the military junta than by civilian rule after her independence in 1960. Starting from January 1966 to October 1979 and December 1983 to May 1999, the military has ruled the country for about 30 years. The six year mistakes of the First Republic politicians invited the military to interfere in governance after more than a total of six decades of colonial misrule (Roberts, 2005; Babawale, 1993; Gambari, 1995). Since then, military rule has been a recurring phenomenon in Nigeria. Political change came about far more frequently through military intervention in politics than through open, competitive elections. The military in the country falsely appeared in self-assumed messiah-style to save the polity. The military sometimes portrayed as an island of unalloyed patriotism amidst the chaos of the turbulent decade of the 1960s as Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu is said to have remarked, “It is only in the Nigerian army that you find Nigerians” (Suberu, 1997) an assertion that proved otherwise after decades of misrule.


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Military intervention is basically an attempt by military officers to get involved in the political process to improve upon what they assumed to be the major problem associated with it. This explains why every time a group of military officers take over power, the major justification they give in order to legitimize their intervention are problems such as instability, official corruption, violent political crisis associated with elections and partisan politics (Amujo, 2011).

When the military came to power in Nigeria on January 15, 1966, they became deeply involved in the political process. In fact, the got involved in a process which is incompatible with their professional training and orientation. They attempted, for example, to restructure the polity, through series of policy statement backed by military decrees (Olutayo, 1999). It is in this context that they created states and local governments and it is also in these contexts that they introduced administrative reform affecting the bureaucracy and the civil service in their attempt to restructure the civil service (Amowo, 1995). Some of these may be legitimate while in most cases they were undertaken to satisfy parochial interests which invariably gave rise to additional problems which the military seems incapable of addressing. After decades of military misadventure in politics Nigerians came to realize that military intervention which they were so ecstatic about and welcomed, was an aberration and a huge retrogression for the country (Elaigwu, 1986). Military rule is not open and inclusive, but rather it is restrictive, exclusive and quite often outright authoritarian. In its attempt to rule, the military mobilized ethnic, regional, religious and communal identities. The more the political process is heightened, the more the political process is threatened with instability and therefore the easier it becomes for the military to legitimize its stay in power on the ground that it wants to prevent the dismemberment of the country life named Nigeria in 1900.

Statement of the problem

The political space of Nigeria has always revolved round the past leaders , whom according to history has held one or two political position in the country’s previous republic or has currently held power in the 4th republic (Gambari,1995). Judging from political history, since 1999, Nigeria have had 4 presidents till date. All these presidents were once in the military during the military regime of Nigeria from 1966 to 1979, then democracy in 1999 except for Goodluck Jonathan (Etebom,2014). Example Obasanjo was the military head of State from 1976-1979, later became democratic president in 1999. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was formerly in the military from 1964-1975, later became democratic president in 2007 after Obasanjo tenure. After Jonathan’s tenure, Buhari who was a former head of state during the military regime from 1983 – 1985, later became the democratic president in 2015. it is against this background that the military and Nigeria politics: an assessment of the domination of the military of the Nigeria political space 1999 to 2015

Objective of the study

The general objective of the study is the military and Nigeria politics: an assessment of the domination of the military of the Nigeria political space 1999 to 2015.

  1. To examine the military historical antecedent in Nigeria
  2. To investigate the role of military rule in transition to democracy
  3. To evaluate the domination of the military in the Nigeria political space 1999 to 2015

Research hypotheses

The following hypothesis have been formulated for the study

H0: There is no domination of the military in the Nigeria political space between 1999 to 2015.

HA; There is a domination of the military in the Nigeria political space between 1999 to 2015.

Significance of the study

This study will examine the military and Nigeria politics: an assessment of the domination of the military of the Nigeria political space 1999 to 2015. Hence the study will be significant in the following ways.

Nigeria populace: this study is significant to the Nigeria populace as it will expose the dominance of the military in the countrys political space , thereby making the citizens see if it is has been profitable to the growth of the country.

Academia: this study is significant to the academic family as it will contribute to the existing literature on the domination of Nigerias political space by the military.

Scope of the study

This study will examine the military historical antecedent in Nigeria from. The study will also investigate the role of military rule in transition to democracy. lastly the study will evaluate the domination of the military of the Nigeria political space 1999 to 2015.

Limitation of the study

In the course of carrying out this study, the researcher experienced some constraints, which included time constraints, financial constraints, language barriers, and the attitude of the respondents.

In addition, there was the element of researcher bias. Here, the researcher possessed some biases that may have been reflected in the way the data was collected, the type of people interviewed or sampled, and how the data gathered was interpreted thereafter. The potential for all this to influence the findings and conclusions could not be downplayed.



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