Nigeria gained independence from Britain on October 1/1960 and was declared a republic on first (1st) October 1963, and inherited the constitution and west parliamentary system of government from the British colonialist, with ceremonial president in the person of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, (from the NCNC) and Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was made the prime minister from the NPC political party from October 1, 1963 to January 16th 1966. During the first republic Nigeria was split into three geopolitical regions, which are the western region, eastern region, and Northern region, the political parties operated on the identities of each region, and the NPC party was the Northern people’s party which represented the interest of Hausa/Fulani who were predominantly in the Northern region. This brought about the ethnic and religious tensions over economic and educational development between the western and the northern regions. The AG was maneuvered out of control of the Western Region by the Federal Government and a new pro-government Yoruba party, the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP), took over. And letter imprisoned the opposition leader of AG chief Obafemi Awolowo.( Nnoli 1996).
According to Ezenwa (1987) one of the political events of the first republic was the military intervention, takeover into political affairs and civil war in the country within the period of 1966 and 1979. National rivalries and ethnic sentiments reflected in the national politics led to a military intervention in January 1966. Tafawa Balewa’s government was overthrown by junior army officers notably Igbo’s. Mostly the northern and western prominent personnel’s such as Sir Ahmadu Bello who was the Prime Minister of the Northern Region, Chief Akintola, the Prime Minister of the Western Region and Chief Festus Okotie-Eboh, the federal finance minister were killed in the coup d’état. And this prompted the massacres of the Igbo’s living in the Northern Nigeria. This paper tends to explain what military is, what military intervention is all about and how Nigeria as a political entity can prevents future military interventions in her political system.
WHAT IS MILITARY
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually includes use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats against the state. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g. communism during cold war era, supporting or promoting economic expansion through imperialism, and as a form of internal social control.
WHAT MILITARY INTERVENTION IS ALL ABOUT
Before the infamous military incursion into governance in Nigerian politics, life was good and expectation for a better and greater nation was high. The military intervention into Nigerian politics is an invention introduced by the military coup of 1966. There are many inventions that were originally created by the military but are now used by civilians. Military intervention has two categories at which it occurs, which are internal and external, The internal causes of military interventions are corruption in the army, political patronage in promotions, low pay; and poor medical/health services. There are also external factors that cause military interventions in politics. They are; corruption of civilian government, incompetent leaders in the administration, failure of the administration to deliver basic services, widespread poverty, and electoral fraud by ambitious politicians.
Military intervention is an act made by active members of the military heads, outside the conventions of the military institution with the aim of disrupting the political status quo, in the pursuit of their political interest. There are two schools of thought on why the military intervene in politics; they are S.E Finer and Samuel P. Huntington who argues that coup de’ta is likely to occur in a state lacking institutional political culture and which surfer economic hardship and social division. The second school of thought concentrates on the organization and character of nation. Huntington and Finer argue that the military need right social political in disorder to seize power. Some of these factors could be said to have lead military intervention in Nigeria politics.
HOW NIGERIA AS A POLITICAL ENTITY CAN STOP MILITARY POLITICS IN HER POLITICAL SYSTEM
Many reasons have been adduced to justify military intervention in the politics of third world countries it is the opinion of some scholars that this is due to external factor. That is, the societal and structural weaknesses, institutional fragility, systematic flaws and low level of political culture which act as a sort of magnet to pull the armed forces into the power and legitimacy vacuum. The reasons for military interventions in Nigeria politics are as varied as they are in complexity. They range from personal grievances of civilian regimes to the political and economic sabotage of civilian government. Many scholars have presented various suggestions and arguments on ways of keeping the arm force out of politics including overcoming coups in Nigeria politics. However, the futility of such legislation cannot be overemphasized. Here, are some ways by which the military may be kept out of politics.
For this country to fully eradicate military involvement in her policy, the civilian leaders should fashion a good political structure for good governance. On the other hands some scholars perceive military rule as a corrective regime that stimulates changes for national unity and development, opposing perspective see the military officers as greed and selfish persons seeking to grab political power for the purpose to amass wealth through intimidation and oppressive rule. To this group of people, the military has no business in governance and cannot facilitate national development and good governance.
Corruption is a basic problem every civilian government has to fight in order to keep the soldiers out of politics. We can observe that corruption among politician is one of the factors that has lead various coup we have witness in Nigeria politics. Take for instance the 1985 coup of Babangida, duo it occur in a military regime of buhari. General B. Babangida accused buhari lead administration of failing to revamp the nation economy that has declined during the civilian lead administration of president Shehu Shagari 1979-1983. Babangida also complained of massive fraud in the issuance of import licenses and counter trade agreements. Corruption also came up as a major reason of 1983 Buhari coup (ohwofasa: 2007) which the immediate causes was the high level of corruption among public officers. The decision to try the corrupt politicians was quite popular. The resultant imprisonment of many because they did not steal but that duo process was not followed in dealing with their cases. Just as the nation return to democratic rule in 1999, with president Obasanjo who was a military head of state during Murtala Mohammed regime. His government took some strides that left Nigeria anti-corruption crusade unsurpassed. For one thing nobody expected obasanjo to muster the courage to cast the first stone at corruption.
Shortly into new administration report started floating about some billions of naira that was withdrawn from the central bank and was not accounted for. We have had numerous cases. This is just to mention but a fill, because every military intervention in a civilian government in this country has an element of corruption. We have had numerous issue of economic sabotage
In this current republic, the case of Ibori, Alamesya, Bankole etc. which anti-corruption agency could not conduct a thorough investigation on. And the resent corruption probe rocking the NNPC and the house of representative ($620,000 bribery of Farouk Lanwam).
The civilian government need to tackle the issue of corruption seriously with all the various agency established such as the independent corrupt practice commission (ICPC) and Economic and Financial crime commission (EFCC). The agencies should be well equipped and trained and be given free hand to carry out their functions diligently without any interference. Not what is obtain now in the country, take a look at the case of Ibori. Ibori was sentence to jail by a London court for same charges which he was tried and sent free in this country. These goes a long way to show how corrupt a civilian rule is in Nigeria. They should be well funded to prevent them being venerable to bribery and corruption.
CITIZENS AND GLOBAL CONDMENATION
Outright condemnation of military rule by all individuals/citizens, national bodies and international organization will a long way in crabbing military takeover of government from civilian rule. The international as the united nation (UN), African union (AU), Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) etc. should promulgate a law that will prohibit military government and declare them nail-avoid. Also national bodies and individuals should adjudicate for a democratic system of government and protest against military rule especially in coup process. Take a look at what is happening in Libya and Egypt were the interim military government try delaying the conduct election but the actions interest nationals and citizen has lead to them adopting a faster transition program.
ENGAGING THE MILITARY IN OTHER PRODUCTIVE VENTURES
Some writer has come to criticize the un-engagement of the military personal on productive venture and cap it as one of the reason why the site and plot coup. Cyril Ndoh (1997) argued that if Gowon’s regime could last for nine years because of the pre-occupation of the military in the execution of the war and reconstruction immediately after the war, this shows that if the military is engaged in other activities during peace time, they will not have the time to arrange a coup. Nigeria should try to engage its soldiers in a productive activities such as agriculture, technological development, education etc. this could help in reduction activities of coup plotters our political system.
TRANSPARENCY AND ACCOUNTABILITY
The issue of transparency and accountability is another measure of keeping the military out of national political system. If we study the previous military coup in the country we will know that lack of transparent and accountable government contribute to the factor by which those coups occur. The present civilian government especially it agencies such as civil and public servant has the duty to operate a transparent administration and be accountable to its citizen. The mass need to know what goes on within system of power.
Political education is one of the key factors towards eradicating military intervention in the country’s democratic process. It is necessary educate the officers and men of the Nigerian military force on the issues and conduct of political affairs in the country, because it can be sufficient desideration to eradicate coups in our political system.
BALANCED FIRE POWER OF POLICE WITH THE MILITARY
Balance fire power of police with the military has been suggested as one way of reducing military coup the country. However, in the estimation of many scholars, this consideration fall low down in the hierarchy of reasons that inspire military intervention at any given time, and that military coup will become a phenomenon of the past if and when the fire-power of the police and military, which under present disposition weighs enormously in favour of the Nigeria military is balanced.
ENHANCEMENT OF REMUNERATION PACKAGE FOR MILITARY PERSONAL
The palpable futility of outlawing coups has generated a number of suggestions towards keeping the military within their barracks. It is suggested that one way a civilian government can prevent intervention of the soldier is to increase allocation of resource to the arm force for better pay and improved conditions of service for the rank and file of the military, particularity those at the upper cadre. The junior officers should not be neglected because they can also man over their superiors and plot a coup de’ta.
DE MILITARIZATION OF THE COUNTRY
A rather extremist position along this viewpoint calls for the outright demilitarization of the country that is, the Nigerian military should be disbanded particularly as Nigeria is relatively free from belligerent neighbours. Switzerland, for example, has no standing army and yet it is stable. This proposition, to all intent and purposes, is worse than useless. Firstly, de-militarization in the twenty-first century is grotesque. If done, the neighbouring countries with standing militaries would take their turn to dismember the Nigerian nation. The activities of the Cameroonian gendarmes, in the disputed bakasi area give fillip to this point. Nigeria is bound to face formidable threat from rival countries like South Africa, Libya etc. within the Africa sub-region. Nigerian need to embark on nuclear capability among others to contend such imminent external aggressions rather than proscribing its armed forces.
The two schools of thought on why the military intervene in politics; that is the S.E Finer and Samuel P. Huntington have given us a lip on the reason military intervention in politics which they argues that “coup de’ta is likely to occur in a state lacking institutional political culture and which surfer economic hardship and social division”. Nigeria should try to tackle various political problems such as; corruption, low level of economic development, ethnic sentiment, electoral fraud, and extreme politicization of the military, internal crisis etc. facing her political system and provide its citizen an avenue for the practice of true democracy. Government should show good governance, accountability and transparent in carrying out their functions. There should be the principle of rule of law and citizen on their own part engage themselves in a meaningful venture that will benefit them and the society at large.
v Akpeninor J. O (2007), Democracy and Issues of Governance in African Politics (The Nigeria perspective), Ibadan: Bookwright Nigeria publishers.
v Solomon O. A & Remi A. Nigeria government and politics/ Element of politics (2010) Remi Anifowse & Francis Enemuo (eds), Lagos: Sam Iroanusi publication.
v Olunleye J.J (1985) military leadership in Nigeria 1966-1979, Ibadan: university press.Johnson A. Ugorji (1994) military interve