The military in African politics and government were seen as a corrective regime against the derail of the then nationalist; to which Nigerian military was never an exception in overthrowing the then incompetent civil class. With the military fully in control of the State power and expected to be corrective, the coupists strategized to enjoy the spoil of the state as they now valued politics more than the military career, thereby relegating the civil class to the background while abandoning their constitutional role, which need further investigation as their involvement in politics had entailed several implications on the polity.

The study adopt secondary sources of data collection, which includes the use of material from the archival library method, CD -ROM, internet browsing, and materials from textbooks, journals and articles. Materials from magazines, newspapers and unpublished works were also consulted. The utilized historical and documentary approaches. Although analytical concepts was employed toward arriving at the expected goals of the study.

The study noted that the essence of military involvement in Nigerian politics was dashed when in 1966 the reprisal coup was natured with ethnic bigotry. The work revealed that the crops officers then were illiterates and could not move the nation forward instead what was witness was coups and power mongers. The study found out that most of the military leaders from the north were wealth crazy and thus, enthroned corruption, which is today a household name in Nigeria politics and government.

The military are not good administrators even when it is clear that they were not trained in that aspect of leadership, hence, for the society to have spent so much and endured these many years such ills-governance, means also many years of setbacks and failures as witnessed today in the Nigeria politics and government.

KEY WORDS: Military, Politics, Coup d’état, Primitive Accumulation, Ethnicity, and Spoils of State





Background of the Study



Statements of the Problems



The Objectives of the Study



Significance of the Study



Research Methodology



Scope of the study



Limitation of the Study



Operational Definition of Terms







2.0       Introduction

2.1       Global Perspective

2.2       African Discourse

2.3       Nigeria Perspective




3.0       Introduction  

3.1       Characteristics of Military Involvement in Nigeria Politics

3.2       Reasons for Military Intervention in Nigeria Politics  

3.3       The Evaluation of Military Government in Nigeria  




4.1       The Arising Problem and Implication  

4.2       Achievement of the Military





5.1       Summary

5.2       Conclusion

5.3       Recommendations





Military involvement in politics, particularly in the Nigerian context could be argued to what military scientist had come to term with as either due to rebellion, war, insurgence and or outright coup d’état (Okechukwu, 2009:1). However, in a layman view point, military coup or military involvement in politics is when a group of soldiers, either of the officers cadre or other ranks (non-commissioned officers) organized themselves with the perceived agenda to enthrone them in state governance (Okechukwu, 2009).

According to LuttwaIk (1980), it is the infiltration of a small but critical segment of the state apparatus which is then used to displace the government from its control of the remainder. While to Wikipedia (1998) notes that it usually involves the control of some active portion of the military while neutralizing the remainder of the country's armed services. This means that coup is never a universal agreement of the whole armed forces but an action carried out by few or disgruntled one while seeking for power.

In a more elaborate context, Mala parte (1931) argued that it is a situation that the active ones or group capture or expels a leader, seizes physical control of important government offices, communicate instruments, the physical infrastructure, power plants, and viable institutions amongst others while trying to establish their agenda or consolidate power and positions.

Going by this analogue, the history of military involvement in politics in Africa, especially, dates back to 1952 when the Egyptian soldiers overthrow the government. The coup of Gen. Gamal Abdul Nasser in Egypt also triggered-off all other coup in Africa, this was followed by the coup in Sudan under Gen Ibrahim Abboud. With the record of coups spreading in Africa, coupled with what Okoye (1992) noted as power psychology influence amongst the soldiers in training from their different military academies, it is obvious that the Southern Sahel in the sub-Saharan Africa, especially the students of the British Royal Academy will not be left behind as the first military coup in Nigeria, led by a major was bloody.

The 1966 January 15th coup d'etat carried out by the five (5) major was however the turning point in Nigeria political history. The coup led by major Kaduna Nzeogwu did not only expose many rots in governance, but, also enthrone a deep seated ethnicity in government, which seldom stilted into civil war and human annihilations in the anal of any West African state political history. The coupist saw those in government, especially the politicians as:

Our enemies are political profiteers, the swindlers, the men in high and low place that seek bribe and demand ten percent, those that seek to keep the country divided permanently so that they can remain in office as ministers are VIPs at least. The tribalists, the nepotisms, those that have corrupted our society and put the Nigerian political calendar back by their work and deed (Okechukwu, 2009:21).

This means that there are a great rot in governance coupled to the Western House of Assembly political quagmire, the census chimera and the political instability in the country. The military intention though looked like a corrective regime but since there are no human rights in the army and no freedom in the compound of the barrel, the new situation was seen as ethnical while some sees it as genuinely hatched and to some it was political. The inability of the general society to separate this young officer's overture however degenerated into another national catastrophe. But by and large, it was the main opener of the Nigerian military into political terrain either to seek power or to correct certain ills of the society.

Premised on this, this work will further inquire why military involvement in politics was possible. Why political intrigues and scheming was used to shortchange the role of the military? And how the military antecedence had affected development and social civility in the country?



The major things that this inquiry tends to portray is that military involvement in Nigeria politics initially was seen as a corrective regime taken cognizance that the military background were never meant to govern, but no sooner than later the act of corrective regime was seen as a stake where all who belong to the military elites must be rich or enriched and seem to believe that they are taken a cue in the administration and possible looting of the national treasury. Thus, the idea of corrective was dash to the wind and replace with the idea of wait for your turn to explore the political terrain syndrome that looks promising and enticizing with the goodies of the spoil of the state linked to oil money. In. the process and for those who are opportune to be there, the initial military accusation of the civil politician turned back to be their way of living, interacting and wealth accumulations. Hence, for every military man to shake­ off poverty or hunger the political terrain becomes the best bet, thereby leading to many military men wanting to involves self in politics. The accuser turned accused become the big problem and at the same time inviting many who cannot conjecture between the political class and the military elite of who are more corrupt, in order to accept the observation of William (2007) who called the system a primitive accumulation of wealth racket by the military brass who ought to toe the line of corrective measure of sanitizing the decayed society instead of the otherwise.

In the process the following questions are raised:

i.             What actually are the main reasons adduce by the military class in adventuring into politics?

ii     Can the military be separated for corrupt tendencies which seem to be one of the reasons for the former involvement in politics?

iii    Do the military actually have something to offer in administering the state?

iv.   Why is military involvement in politics a celebrated concept?

v.    Can the military in anyway promote social civility?

vi.   Is military regime accountable to the society whose tax payers' money is spent unchecked?



The followings are the research objectives:

1.               To investigate the major reason that informed military involvement in politics.

2.               To identify the basis of argument with evidences that the military are corrupt which advanced the reasons to be involved in politics.

3.               To examine where possible that the military can encourage development while in power.

4.               To examine the reason why some individual and people celebrate military rule.

5.               To determine whether there is human rights promotion and social civility by military in assuming power.

6.               To explicate why military regime is not accountable to the mass public.



This study is significance in several ways.

Firstly, military incursion was initially meant to act as a corrective regime that would have help to eradicate corruption and inefficiency in governance, but unfortunately otherwise later became the case.

Secondly, the military in their drive to assume power, acquire wealth and enthroned the cultured of impurity in the system, which ought not to be a corrective regime.

Thirdly, the military was never meant to involve self in politics, thence the otherwise of the destruction on national psyche and social stability. Although, the point of argument is that the civil class actually introduce the military into the sharp practices.

Fourthly, the study averred that greed and fear of the unknown might have combined to influence the military into power acquisition and then followed the concept of ineptitude in utilizing power to achieve a goals.

Fifthly, the study exposes the military mediocrity and advance reasons of what might informed their participation in politics as located in poverty.

Sixthly, the work tends to close the gap in knowledge, especially on those that celebrate military rule by informed them that the regime is absurdity and aberration no matter the initiatives employed in the process. This is because the worst civilian administration is better than the best military regime.

Seventhly, the work adds to the numerous literatures by extending the frontier of knowledge. It adds value to the numerous literatures on military rule while exposing the level of rot in the service.

Finally, the study is of the view that military rule need further research with the ills properly exposed to avoid future adventures or would be coupist to know that there is general society disenchantment on military incursion.



The study will adopt secondary sources of data collection considering the fact that the research is connected to historical analysis of military involvement in Nigeria politics and government.

In view of this, a great deal of secondary materials like archival library method, CD Rom, journals and articles, magazines and newspapers were sources and serves as the main pool of data collection. The study also employed the use of internet and World Wide Web's (www) browsing to augment the sourced materials.

In the process of inquiry, the work utilizes analytical approach and documentary in analyzing the course discourse. While historical approach is also adopted in the analysis, the study uses descriptive analysis in arriving at its content desire.



The study, military involvement in Nigeria politics and the aspect of development covers the period 1966 to 1999. It studied militarization of the larger society owing to the long years of military rule and the decadence in the administration of the state, which accounts for several implications.



The study in the course of inquiry is limited in several ways which are inevitable. These include the problem of getting the required and relevant text from the library; logistic problem of transporting one from place to place. The researcher not allowed or attended to by library attendants also form a limitation to the study. Financial constraints are one of the factors forming a limitation to the study.

However, despite all the noted limitation the work was able to meet the required goal of the study.



The following are the research possible definition of terms:

MILITARY: These are men designated in protecting the territory of a country. The military defend the country sovereignty.

COUP D'ETAT: This is the act of seizing power by a group from the incumbent forceful with the intention of perpetuating their own agenda.

INVOLVEMENT: This is the act of one participating in carrying out certain function or duty as may be directed or interested to the part of the act.

REBELLION: It is the act of intent of going against a constituted authority. This might be against a certain policy of the government or way of doing things.

ARMED FORCES: This is the combination of all are meant to protect and maintain security in the country.



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