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By May 29, 1999 Nigeria had been through series of successful, as well as unsuccessful coups, which had installed 7 military regimes (Ejiofor, 2002). The civilian administration, which Nigerians have for long aspired for, can be said to have, at last arrived and consolidated with fourteen (14) years of uninterrupted democratic governance. However, according to some scholars, it is generally recognized that the involvement of Nigerian military in governance has done more harm than good despite their current stay in the barracks. Decades of their autocratic rule have created so many negative legacies to our current democratic experiment that if it should be tackled individually; each of these legacies can sap the energies of any serious administration. This paper is therefore, an attempt to assess the impacts of military rule on democratic governance in Nigeria. In an attempt to set a conceptual basis for the argument, a review of the phenomenon of military, democratisation and governance are advanced. This is followed by an analysis of the brief Nigerian military experience in governance as well as its legacies on the current democratic experience through its various manifestations. The paper also suggests what needs to be done to address the predicament, restore good governance and pursue genuine democratic practices that can lead Nigeria to a stable and prosperous democracy in the league of developed nations.
Key words: Military, Democracy, Governance, Good Governance
1.1 Background of the Study
By May 29, 1999, Nigeria had been through series of successful, as well as unsuccessful coups, which had installed 7 military regimes. The duration of each regime control of power and governance ranges from six months (Aguiyi Ironsi’s) to nine years (Gowon’s) (Ejiofor, 2002). However, collectively, the military had governed Nigeria for a total of 28 years. Before the January 1966 coup, it was assumed that Nigerian military trained in the British tradition, subscribed to the doctrine of civil supremacy over the armed forces (Odetola, 1982). The 1966 coup coupled with the long duration of military governance entrenched a myth among the people of Nigeria that the armed forces were Nigeria’s political messiahs. Agbese (2005:6) pointed out that, “not only did the incursion of the military in governance increase the politicization of the military and militarization of the politics; it also changed the nature of civil- military relation in Nigeria’’. Moreover, despite their retreat to the barracks and the subsequent handover to the civilian administrators, Omotola (2009:199) posits: The democratisation process in Nigeria, as in most parts of Africa, exhibits some peculiar features. The most notable of these relate to the high level of instability that characterises the short history of the country as an independent political entity. Prior to the inauguration of the nascent democracy on 29 May 1999, there had been 11 changes of government since independence in 1960, including the Ernest Shonekan Interim National Government (ING). This high level of instability, a product of coups and counter-coups, may not be unconnected to the garrisoned nature of electoral processes and their negative implications for democratisation. According to Jega (2007), democratic regimes, which have replaced authoritarian ones, have constantly been faced with the threat and possibility of authoritarian reversals. This is essential because the role that the military regimes have played in governance since the attainment of independence in the 1960s which have given rise to so many complex and interrelated processes, most of which have significant negative consequences especially on governance have been entrenched and deeply rooted.
Democracy after all, is a form of government in which sovereign power is vested in the people collectively and is administered for them by persons elected or appointed to represent them. It is also worth noting that, a central theme in democratization is the extent to which political actors can develop democratic norms and values to regulate conflicts emanating from the governance structure and its political society. However, the current democratic processes in Nigeria are bedeviled with the problems of military left over (such as the democratisation of the use of authoritarian values of intolerance, insensitivity as well as lack of genuine dialogue in our democratic space) in the management of our democratic structures and institutions by the current crop of politicians.
The military foundation of most societies would be difficult to dispute. History books are often filled with people illustration of invasions and conquest of weak communities by powerful forces. The military as an institution existed even in pre-colonial times especially in those ancient kingdom of all such as the Benin Empire, the Oyo Kingdom, Dahomey Kingdom, Borno Empire, etc.
At this time, the military was primarily assigned the responsibility of defending the territorial integrity of these sates. Although, they were regularly consulted even on political matters, they had no direct control over the affairs of state. Essentially, they remained subordinated to the political authorities.
Even in ancient Rome, the military was not known to directly involve in governance until the point in time when the Roman Army "went beyond. Its brief to takeover power from the Roman senate and henceforth chose who the Emperor was going to be. This abbreviation became known as PRAETORIANISM i.e. the direct intervention of the military in politics. Consequently, the military that was initially regarded as the protector of the Emperor or the praetorian guards suddenly took over power. From this moment onward military praetorians became associated with the overthrow of legitimate 'and elected government. Although, the military institution is an important institution in the society that could assist in the maintenance of stability through protection of the territorial integrity of the state concerned. The unusual happens when this institution chooses to abandon its traditional responsibility and then decides to embrace the option of taking over the state power. The issue therefore, is how do we keep the military permanently in the barracks in order for it to perform its traditional role as well as disengage them from politics.
The military retirement system is arguably the best retirement deal around. Unlike most retirement plans, the Armed Forces offer a pension, with benefits, that starts the day you retire, no matter how old you are. That means you could start collecting a regular retirement pension as early as 37 years old.
The military in Nigeria, in one way helps to account for the evident crisis of governance. The peculiar legacy of prolonged military rule has accounted for most of the crisis and is still one of the biggest challenges to democratisation process. Therefore, the purpose of this study is the role of rietre military personnel’s in the political development of Nigeria.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Nigeria experienced military intervention first in 1966, when the elected government of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa was overthrown in 1966 by a group of young military officers. But the coup plotters were not the beneficiaries of it, they were swept aside by the senior officer and the rein of power fell to General Aguiyi-lronsi.
Since this experience with military intervention in politics, Nigeria has been plaque with a problem that once the politicians failed, the military is confronted with one issue, how long is it to remain in power. Once it comes up with a programme or time — table of transition from military to civilian rule, the other competitors for power as well as the international community expect it to adhere to this whatever its duration, it is not expected to have no end.
1.3 Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study is to examine the role of retire military personnel’s in the political development of Nigeria 1999 – 2016.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The military institution is an important institution in the society that could assist in the maintenance of stability through protection of the territorial integrity of the state concerned. The unusual happens when this institution chooses to abandon its traditional responsibility and then decides to embrace the option of taking over the state power. The issue therefore, is how do we keep the military permanently in the barracks in order for it to perform its traditional role as well as disengage them from politics.
1.5 Research Questions
1. What are the role of retire military personnel’s in the Political development in Nigeria?
2. What are the effects of military personnel’s in the political development in Nigeria?
3. What are the relationship between military and democracy development in Nigeria?
1.6 Definition of Term