Nigeria was too young as a sovereign nation when, in 1966, the military truncated her first attempt at democracy. The military leadership was in the saddle for a period of thirteen years before it voluntarily returned power to the civilians on October 1, 1979. The circumstances that brought out the military from the barracks to governance cannot be blamed on the military, rather, it had lent belief to the notion that the military could serve as a balancing force in the power equation in the country.
Each time there was a military coup against a civilian government, the claim was usually that the military have come to correct the excesses, Maladministration, corrupt tendencies and abuse of office by the politicians. However, political analysts have come to wonder whether the military itself could be said to be immune against these allegation that could merit its corrective posture, given the fact that there were coups against fellow military governments.
It is a saying that the worst of a civilian administration is better than the best of a military regime no matter how benevolent. This is against the background that soldiers rule by force while an elected civilian government rules by the mandate of the people. The first step taken by the military after a coup is to suspend the country’s constitution, promulgate decrees (military laws) abrogating the rights and liberties of the citiznes. Since they were not elected, they do not owe any allegiance to the people to the people nor do they feel obliged by peoples yearnings.
Notwithstanding, the story of the military rule in Nigeria could be likened to a baby that could not be thrown away with bath water. It would be a miscarriage of justice to ignore the military’s legacies in Nigeria that have contributed to the growth and development of the Nigerian nation.
The Nigerian military deserves a pat on the back for successfully quelling a 30-month civil war to keep the nation united. Although, many may blame the Nigerian civil war on the personality clash between two military officers Lt. Cols. Yakubu Gowon and Odumegwu Ojukwu. That belief may be wrongly goven that the genesis of the national crises has been traced to a number of factors, both remote and immediate. However, the men and officers of the Nigerian Armed Forces laid down their lives to defend the unity of the country otherwise Nigeria would have disintegrated like many failed republics in the world. Today everybody is proud that, all things being equal, Nigeria has everything it takes to become a world power and also a big player in the global politics.
Clamouring for the exercise since the colonial period. Further, in order to alleviate the fears of the minority ethnic nationalities in the country, another state creation exercise took place in 1975 which brought the total number of the Nigerian component units to nineteen. Also in the same year, Local Government Areas were created by the military in order to bring government nearer to people at the grassroot.
4 Major Achievements Of The Military In Nigeria
1. Military In The Provision Of Social Infrastructure
The military after the end of the war, embarked on construction of network of roads to enhance the movement of people and goods which has improved the social and Because of the ease with which the military took decisions, it established many industries in the mining, oil, marine, aviation and automobile sectors of the economy as a means of creating job opportunities for Nigerians, to prevent the emergence of a monopoly and also to invest in less profitable ventures which may not attract the interest of private entrepreneurs. The construction of oil refineries in Warri, Port Harcourt and Kaduna was to the credit of the military. It was aimed at making the country depend less on imported fuel for domestic consumption. In the same vein, many River Basins were established to promote productivity in the agricultural sector.
2. Improvement In Education
By 1966 when the military made incursion into Nigerian politics, there were only four universitites in the country: Universities of Ibadan, Ife, Zaria and Nsukka. Apart from the University (College) of Ibadan which was established by the colonial government in 1948, the other three were established by the Regional Premiers in the First Republic but by 1999 when the military dissengaged, the number of Universities established by the federal or state military government have increased tremendously. The military government established many specialized Universities for Agriculture, Science and Technology as-well-as many polytechnics across the country.
On May 22, 1973 the military regime under General Gowon established the National Youth Service Corps scheme. Some of its objectives include:
1. To develop common tie among the youths and promote national unity.
2. To Inculcate discipline in the youths by instilling in them a tradition of industry and patriotism and loyal service to the nation.
3. To raise the moral level of youths by giving them the opportunity to learn about higher ideals of national achievement and social and cultural improvement.
No doubt the scheme has come a long way in ensuring national integration and cohesion of the diverse people of Nigeria.
3. War Against Indiscipline (WAI)
In 1984 the Buhari/Idiagbon military regime made a conscious effort at revitalizing the diminishing social ethics in the Nigerian society by waging war against indiscipline which included: queuing culture, work ethics, and environmental sanitation. The military also waged war against drug trafficking, illegal foreign exchange business, examination malpractices and other social vices that had eaten deep into the social fabrics of the Nigerian society and which have cast negative aspersions on every citizen of the country in the international community.
4. Creation Of States And Local Governments In Nigeria
Since the independence of Nigeria in 1960 it is only the military that have had the opportunity to create states and local governments. The political class has not enjoyed this privilege.
Yakubu Gowon during his administration splitted the regions into 12 states on May 27, 1967. Murtala Muhammed’s remige on February 3, 1976 created seven (7) additional states making Nigeria a federation of nineteen (19) states.
General Babangida’s regime divided Nigeria further into a 21 and subsequently 30 states structure on September 23, 1987 and August 27, 1991 respectively.
General Abacha’s regime created six (6) more states on October 1, 1996 and brought it to 36 states.
Today the Federal Republic of Nigeria is made up of thiry six (36) states, even hundred and seventy-four (774) Local Government Areas and a Federal Capital Territory (FCT). A feat that no civilian government has been able to accomplish successfully.