The politics of stable civil-military relations

Pita Ogaba Agbese

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DECADES of military rule in Nigeria have created a legacy of corruption, lawlessness, ethnic animosities, mass poverty and communal violence. Tackled individually, each of these legacies can sap the energies of any serious administration. In combination, they constitute monumental challenges.

From the very inception of the new civilian administration in May 1999, it became apparent that the it considered the re-establishment of stable civil-military relations as its highest priority. Thus, virtually only a few hours after he was sworn-in as president of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo appointed new military service chiefs and announced the retirement of 93 senior military and police officers. In addition, he app-ointed Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, a well-respected retired general, as minister of defence. These actions by the president underscored the belief that political stability in Nigeria was possible only through a fundamental reform of the country’s armed forces. As Atiku Abubakar, the vice president, noted, the military constitutes a ‘big problem [that] the present government plans to sanitize.’1

We argue in this paper that the quick response of President Obasanjo to the military issue reflects his administration’s belief that the success of the democratic transition exercise depends on devising strategies that would ensure the military’s permanent subordination to civil authority. Our argument is anchored on the premise that Obasanjo’s election as president in February 1999 has opened new vistas for civil-military relations in Nigeria. The argument will also be made against the back-drop that reforming the Nigerian military is a major challenge for the new administration.

The article has a two-fold objective: First, it reviews the state of civil military relations in contemporary Nigeria, more specifically the pernicious effect of military rule on civil military relations. Second, it analyzes the strategies adopted by the new administration to address the military question, in particular the various steps taken so far by the administration to reduce the military’s economic and political power.

Nigeria’s forceful condemnation of the recent military coup in Pakistan and its decision to suspend military relations with that country demonstrate the degree of fear and apprehension which the coup gene-rated among the country’s new civilian leadership.2 Nigeria was alarmed at the Pakistani coup because of a feeling that it might embolden elements of the nation’s military to attempt to unseat the Obasanjo-led government. The fear generated among Nigerian leaders by the coup also demonstrates the state of unease between the military and the new administration. Even though President Obasanjo’s first actions on coming to power were directed at addressing the military question, the change of government in Pakistan vividly revealed to the Nigerian leadership the imperative of resolving the military question as urgently as possible.



Despite the formal withdrawal of the armed forces from politics, the state of civil-military relations in Nigeria remains abysmal. Decades of military rule with the associated high-level corruption, gross mismanagement, non-accountability, human rights abuses and outright criminality have discredited the military as an institution. Sheer intimidation, willful attacks on civilians, the use of soldiers to settle personal scores, the participation of soldiers in criminal activities, including armed robbery and the setting up of illegal toll-roads to extort money from motorists, and military officers’ blatant private expropriation of public resources have contributed to the low reputation which the armed forces currently enjoy. In particular, high-level corruption that typified the last two military governments has totally discredited the military in the eyes of many Nigerians.

Despite the open disdain for the armed forces, decades of military rule in Nigeria have made the military and military officers (including retired officers) formidable political players. For instance, in the transition programme that brought Obasanjo to power, several retired officers including Obasanjo himself were elected to various political posts. The continued importance of the military in Nigeria’s political equation can also be gauged by the fact that the Ministry of Defence received the largest budgetary allocation of 17.9 billion naira in the supplementary budget for the second half of the 1999 fiscal year.3



The level of corruption and brazen criminality of the armed forces has a twist of irony because when junior officers of the Nigerian Army under the leadership of Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu toppled the Abu-bakar Tafawa Balewa-led federal government in January 1966, they announced that their objective in coming to power was to end corruption, indiscipline, political violence, disunity and maladministration.4 Nzeogwu also promised that military rule would be brief. He claimed that he was not interested in governing Nigeria. Instead, that as disciplined and patriotic officers, he and his co-conspirators intended to handpick ‘civilians of proven honesty and efficiency’ to govern the country. Nzeogwu assured Nigerians that once the right politicians had been selected, military officers would merely stand guard with their ‘fingers on the trigger’ to ensure that the new crop of rulers did not engage in the same nefarious activities that had allegedly led to the overthrow of the Balewa government.

Nzeogwu and other subsequent coup plotters in Nigeria believed that the military was more disciplined and less prone to corruption than the civilian politicians. Indeed, the nefarious activities of civilian politicians led some Nigerians to crave military intervention. As West Africa has aptly observed:


Military rule used to be popular in Nigeria. Indeed, it is common knowledge that the military only ever intervened after pleas from disgruntled sections of the civilian population. These days, however, military rule has lost its appeal not only in Nigeria but beyond. After the transition in 1998, it can only be in the interest of Nigeria if its military establishment bears this in mind always; so that, in the unlikely event of civilians coming back to plead for intervention, the former will be mentally prepared to refuse. After all the mishaps of the recent and distant past, this is the only safe route for the Nigerian ship of state.5



To be sure, the military’s first incursion into politics was helped by factors such as the weaknesses of civil society, lack of elite compacts on politics and the political process, the gross failures of civilian governance, distortions of the political economy, weak societal institutions, and the intense struggles for political power by civilian political elites.6 Thus, like Nzeogwu, other Nigerian coup plotters too argued that their mission in seizing power was to restore the economy, clean the Aegean stable of corruption and abuse of power, democratize Nigeria and then retreat to the barracks. Yet, 30 years and seven different military regimes after Nzeogwu’s coup, corruption is still a major feature of Nigerian public and private life.



Moreover, military rule was not brief. On the contrary, from 1966 to 1979, Nigeria was ruled by various military regimes. After a four year hiatus, the military returned to power in 1983. Thus, rather than merely handpicking civilian rulers to govern the country as Nzeogwu had promised, the military directly ruled Nigeria and for decades dominated state and society. Not only did military officers rule Nigeria for 28 out of the last 33 years, the country was subjected to a spate of coups and counter-coups since the first one.

As Julius Ihonvbere has correctly noted, ‘Military coups have been part of Nigeria’s political equation since the first (coup) in January 1966.’7 Similarly, Attahiru Jega notes that, ‘Nigeria’s political history over the last three decades has become essentially that of prolonged military rule.’8 Jega also argues that the frequent intervention of the military in the political process in Nigeria has entrenched and nurtured a ‘coup making culture.’9

The failure of military rulers to wipe out corruption, indiscipline and misgovernance as they had frequently promised is a serious indictment of military rule. The military’s numerous broken promises to Nigerians constituted a betrayal of military honour and duty. Military intervention in politics itself manifests a high degree of lawlessness that has corroded the soul of Nigeria for the past three decades.



A second imperative for instituting measures to permanently bar the military from political intervention stems from the recognition that military rule poses a serious threat to the armed forces as an institution. The naked quest for political power among military officers has decimated the ranks of the military. Coups, coup attempts and even ‘rumours’ of coups have led to many military officers being executed. In addition, coups have destroyed the hierarchical chain of command in the Nigerian armed forces. Junior officers who succeeded in staging coups automatically promoted themselves over and above their erstwhile superior officers. This practice not only damaged the chain of command, it created a climate of mutual suspicion and recrimination detrimental to professionalism and military discipline.

Military rule was also detrimental to the corporate existence of the military because it created two sets of military personnel: Officers who held political appointments and used their political positions as a route to enrich themselves, and others who continued to perform purely military duties. Without access to state power, this latter category did not get much opportunity to enrich themselves. This too bred deep resentment with dire consequences for military discipline. Thus, military rule created wide polarization and deep factionalization in the Nigerian armed forces. Senior officers constantly dread junior officers for fear that the latter may one day carry out their long-expected bloody coup. On their part, junior officers live in constant fear of their senior officers. They are apprehensive that they could become victims of witch-hunts designed to wipe out potential coup plotters.



Several years ago, General Ibrahim Babangida, the then head of state, raised an alarm over this state of affairs in the armed forces. He reminded his fellow officers of the ‘good old days’ when officers ‘really cared for their men... the days of dedicated and committed senior officers who saw their primary duty as one of producing honorable, disciplined, healthy and loyal officers and men.’10 Babangida lamented that the ‘good old days’ had disappeared from military barracks. He noted that instead of commonalities of interests between senior and junior officers, a wide ‘communication gap’ had developed between the two sets of officers. Babangida also pointed out that:


There seems to be a lack of commitment on the part of some of our officers and NCOs to the military profession... Many of us as senior officers hardly relate to our juniors. Often the gap between senior and junior officers has widened, thus making dangerously manifest generational cleavages. I expect that the military involvement in politics has had a hand in this. Also I think that the threat of witch-hunting under the guise of plotting to overthrow government is responsible for this.11


Brigadier General David Mark has described the military as a ‘group of disorganized cowboys.’12 Similarly, Julius Ihonvbere observed that the advent of military rule in Nigeria has created a situation in which military officers are more or less organized into a variety of factions around the power and authority of retired and serving generals. Such generals as Yar’Adua, Babangida, Akinrinade, Obasanjo, Ukiwe, Bali, Idiagbon, Gowon, Buhari, Danjuma, Dogon-yaro, though retired, continue to have their ‘boys’ within the army who protect their interests and take directions from them.



To be sure, these cliques are not permanent and when an officer’s expectations are not met he can easily switch allegiance to another retired or serving general. Of course, serving generals like Sani Abacha and Oladipo Diya also have their ‘boys’ who look after them, ‘watch their backs’, spy on other officers and listen to the rank and file. What this means is that the organization of interests and loyalty around military generals complicates the existing problems of ethnic, regional and religious factionalization and suspicion which already exist within the army.13

An editorial in The Post Express echoes the same concern about the invidious nature of factionalism in the armed forces:


It was not only civil society that had suffered in the hands of our military. The military institution itself [even before the death of Abacha] had reached the very depths of loss of esteem... Even more devastating is the effect of prolonged political involvement on the institutional integrity of the military itself. Esprit de corps, that indivisible bond of respect for each other and for professional hierarchy that binds modern warriors (serving and retired) to each other and to the profession had long vanished. Political factions emerged in the barracks with their own adherents and detractors alike. Mutual suspicion among factions, crude materialism and corruption among the officer corps and rank and file alike have become the bane of our military.14


The failure of high-ranking officers to look after their men seemed to have compelled some soldiers to take up armed robbery. Allegations abound about military personnel selling their guns to hoodlums and armed robbers. Other soldiers are hired by landlords to collect rent from recalcitrant tenants. In yet other cases, soldiers set up illegal toll-booths on highways to extort money and other valuable goods from motorists. Illegal activities such as these further discredit the military in the eyes of many Nigerians. Consequently, many soldiers get demoralized and lose confidence in the military as a profession.



One of the most pernicious legacies of military rule in Nigeria is the culture of violence that it has created. Military rule placed a premium on force and violence. Dialogue, bargaining, compromise, all essential elements of effective governing style were de-emphasized by military officers. Instead, Nigerians were compelled to submit to senseless military commands. Even speech patterns in Nigeria seem to have been militarized. Rude, violent and foul language now characterize the mode of public discourse in the country. Military rule also exacerbated inter-ethnic and intra-ethnic conflicts in many parts of the country.

In addition, it created a criminalized economy. Virtually all segments of the national economy were rendered comatose by corruption, shady deals and gross fraudulent practices. Fraud and corruption escalated as a direct result of state policy and lack of accountability. Military rule legitimized the notion that the essence of political power lies in its use as an instrument for the private plunder of public resou-rces.15 General Abacha alone has been accused of stealing billions of dollars during the five years when he ruled the country.



The ceaseless use of state power for private capital accumulation by military officers and their civilian supporters has generated deep political apathy and a cynical attitude to public affairs by the vast majority of Nigerians. As Obaro Ikime, an astute chronicler of Nigerian history, has observed:


Nearly thirty years of rule by the military have turned the Nigerian Army into something of an ogre. Successive military regimes have displayed increasing autocracy and mindless acquisition of wealth at the expense of the national treasury. Not even the army would now dare to suggest that military rule is corrective. Our experience is that military rule has been extremely corrosive. And it has corroded the very soul and substance of the nation.16



In a book written on the eve of the 1979 transition from military rule, a Nigerian political scientist, Oyeleye Oyediran, asked how long the succeeding civilian rule would last. Four years later, his question was unequivocally answered when the military overthrew the then civilian government headed by President Shehu Shagari. Similarly, Claude E. Welch Jr., in a recent article on the propensity for military intervention in Nigerian politics noted that, ‘Military profession of neutrality notwithstanding, the idea that the Nigerian armed forces will assume a non-interventionist role for the foreseeable future flies in the face of the facts of the situation.’17 Oyediran and Welch’s pessimism ref-lects a widely-held belief that Nigeria has not yet seen the last of military governance. This widespread belief derives from the knowledge that the long duration of military rule in Nigeria has fundamentally transformed the nature of civil-military relations.



Before the January 1966 coup, it was assumed that the Nigerian military, trained in the British tradition, subscribed to the doctrine of civilian supremacy over the armed forces. The colonial military from which the Nigerian military emerged was the repressive arm of the colonial state. As such, it was fully beholden to the colonial state and had no separate agenda of its own. Thus, under colonial rule, the tradition of civilian supremacy over the military was maintained.

The 1966 coup, however, shattered the illusion that the postcolonial military, like the colonial army, would accept the doctrine of civilian supremacy. This coup and subsequent coups coupled with the long duration of military governance entrenched a myth among military officers that the armed forces were Nigeria’s political messiahs. Thus, not only did the incursion of the military into the political process increase the politicization of the military and the militarization of politics, it also changed the nature of civil-military relations in Nigeria.



Military rule shifted the balance of power in favour of the military as it abrogated the doctrine of civilian supremacy, helping entrench a strong belief among military officers that they were supreme. After all, virtually every major political decision in Nigeria over the past 30 years was made by the military or those closely associated with the institution. More-over, even the successor civilian regimes (the Shehu Shagari government in 1979 and the Obasanjo administration in 1999) were creatures of the military.

Control of political power led the military to take it upon itself to determine the form, nature and contents of political participation. It arrogated the power to determine not only who might rule Nigeria but the terms and circumstances of such governance. Military rule not only facilitated military supremacy over state and society in Nigeria, it also allowed the military to arrogate an ever widening array of roles and responsibilities to itself – often with disastrous consequences. It created an overbearing military marked by a mentality that the nation’s resources were spoils of war that could be used and abused by soldiers.

The recognition that the military has failed woefully in its self-assigned role as the moral guardian of Nigeria, coupled with the danger that continued military rule poses, have intensified the search for viable solutions to the military question. In a speech shortly after his inauguration as president, Obasanjo noted that the incursion of the military into government has been a disaster for our country and for the military over the last 30 years. The esprit-de-corps among military personnel has been destroyed; professionalism has been lost. Youth enroll into the military not to pursue a noble career but with the sole intention of taking part in coups and to be appointed as military administrators and chairmen of task forces.18

Reiterating that as a former military officer his ‘heart bleeds to see the degradation in the proficiency of the military,’ he promised that his administration would ensure that the military regains its ‘pride, professionalism and traditions.’19 Obasanjo also noted that, ‘A great deal of reorientation has to be undertaken and a redefinition of roles, retraining and re-education will have to be done to ensure that the military submits to civil authority.’20 He views military professionalism as the key to civilian control of the armed forces. In Obasanjo’s thinking, through professionalism and re-education, the norm of the supremacy of civil authorities will be inculcated into the military. As Muyiwa Akintude has aptly observed, the aim of the government is to ‘professionalize the military and ensure its permanent subordination to civil authority.’21



Several measures have been taken by the Obasanjo government in an attempt to achieve the twin objectives of re-imposing civilian supremacy over the military and re-establishing the military’s professionalism. The first of these measures involved military appointments made by the president. As noted earlier, Danjuma was appointed the minister of defence. Danjuma is well-respected both in and out of the military and has a wide reputation as a no-nonsense man. He served as chief of army staff during Obasanjo’s tenure as a military head of state (1975-1979). Danjuma, like Obasanjo, seems committed to revamping the armed forces. It seems that Obasanjo has made a very good appointment in Danjuma as minister of defence. Danjuma seems to have the desire to re-professionalize the military. He recently told senior military officers that the behaviour of military personnel ‘have so tarnished our image that many of us are ashamed to walk the streets in uniform. These are the real challenges we have as professionals and it is my duty to reverse this trend.’ The only disquieting thing about his appointment is his reported serious illness.22



Obasanjo also carefully selected military officers who have no apparent political ambitions as service chiefs. General Victor Malu, Air Vice Marshall Isaac Alfa, Admiral Victor Mbu and Admiral Ibrahim Ogohi were appointed chief of army staff, chief of air staff, chief of naval staff and chief of defence staff respectively. Another interesting aspect of their appointment is in terms of their eth- nic and geo-political background. They are all from minority ethnic groups and the first three are from the middle-belt region of Nigeria. By ignoring officers from the major ethnic groups in the appointment of service chiefs, Obasanjo was clearly sending a signal to the armed forces that it was no longer going to be business-as-usual.23 Some of these appointments were not without controversy, however. For instance, Victor Malu was the chairman of the tribunal that tried Lt. General Oladipo Diya and other military officers who were accused of attempting to overthrow the Abacha regime in 1997.



The second measure taken by the administration to professionalize the armed forces and ensure its preparedness for its traditional political role was the retirement of 93 ‘political’ officers. All military and police officers who held political appointments between 1985 and 1999 were summarily retired. According to Doyin Okupe, a presidential spokesman, Obasanjo effected the retirement to ‘achieve a clean break from years of military incursion into politics which have been an unmitigated disaster for the nation.’ Okupe reiterated that the retirement was in ‘keeping with the pledge made by the president in his inaugural address to the nation to initiate far-reaching measures that will ensure that... the Nigerian armed forces regain their pride and professionalism.’

Obasanjo’s summary retirement of the ‘political’ officers made sense on various grounds. First, most of these men had become fabulously wealthy from the various political appointments that they had held. Their continued presence in the armed forces would have created disciplinary problems. The younger officers of the rank of majors and lieutenant colonels who had served as military governors were rich and powerful. Most of them would not have countenanced receiving orders from their superior officers who, although senior to them in rank, had not enjoyed any opportunity to amass riches of their own.

Second, many of these ‘political’ officers were politically ambitious and would have been tempted to stage coups. Third, the ‘political’ officers had lost touch with military professionalism and were more interested in using their military ranks for private aggrandizement of wealth. Finally, it is generally known that soldiers who held political appointments were extremely corrupt. The Obasanjo government could not afford to be waging war against corruption and leaving in place some of the most egregiously corrupt military officers.



A third plank in the project to professionalize the military was the disbandment of military units accused of gross violations of human rights under the Abacha regime. Major Hamza El Mustapha, Abacha’s chief security officer and several others who ran these outfits, were formally charged for killing three Nigerian politicians, Kudirat Abiola, General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua and Alfred Rewane. In addition to disbanding the terror outfits, the Obasanjo government seems convinced that it was important to publicly wash the dirty linen of the Abacha regime as a strategy of discrediting military rule.

In this connection, the government has summarily seized money, houses and other properties illegally acquired by Abacha and his acolytes. Real estate acquired at give-away prices by other military officers in choice locations in Lagos and other places was also seized. In addition, all the contracts and licenses, including oil leases issued by the predecessor regime, have been revoked or suspended. Several panels of inquiry have been set up to probe past military governments.

Demobilization is also another major plank in the Obasanjo government’s efforts to reduce the political prerogatives of the armed forces. It announced that the armed forces would be reduced from 80,000 to 50,000. Although Danjuma, in announcing this figure gave the impression that the demobilization would start immediately, the unease which this announcement generated among the military forced the government to backtrack a bit. In an address to officers and men of the 3 Armored Division of the army, Jos, in November 1999, Danjuma said:


The actual force structure will evolve from discussions with you. The impression that there will be a general demobilization exercise is not correct. Rather, only relevant provisions in the Nigerian Army Career Review programme will be implemented. Consequently, there is no need for fear and panic as I have been made to understand exist now.



Troop demobilization is scheduled to be done through a gradual process. According to Danjuma, all those who have reached the ‘maximum 35 years of service or have attained the mandatory retirement age will be eased out. Then, personnel with poor disciplinary records or those who are unproductive will be disengaged. To make this exercise less painful, all personnel to be disengaged will be given attractive packages to enable them gain useful employment, with emphasis on self-employment.’24

Danjuma also announced that the thrust of his tenure as minister of defence would be to create a compact, highly mobile, well-trained, well-equipped, well-maintained and highly motivated armed forces. The general idea is to replace sheer number with fire power and technology. ‘A reduced strength of armed forces will allow me to plan and equip them within the budget approved by the National Assembly. The strength will be organized around the existing structures but with emphasis on high mobility.’25



Danjuma’s desire to create a ‘compact, highly mobile, well-trained, well-equipped, well-maintained and highly motivated armed forces’ is informed by several beliefs. First, it is generally recognized that the military as currently composed, is far too large for Nigeria’s resources. Many Nigerians would agree that Nigeria must be the only country that retains such a large number of soldiers. Instead of a very large army, what is needed is to improve the quality of the army. Also to ensure that the person who joins the army really wants to be a soldier, not because he wants employment. Most people who joined the force in recent times want to be soldiers because they want employment.26

The administration also believes that a large military, particularly in its present configuration, presents problems in terms of civilian control. Among other things, the large size of the military is one of the reasons for its poor maintenance. Danjuma also believes that civil-military relations would be improved through improved living conditions in the barracks and by confining soldiers to the barracks. He has initiated a programme of rehabilitating the barracks.

Training, including holding joint military exercises with other militaries, is equally part of Danjuma’s programme of re-professionalizing the armed forces.27 In August 1999, Bruce Moore, a retired US army general, led an eight-man team of the Military Professional Resource Incorporated, to Nigeria to hold talks with military officials on how the Americans could train Nigerian military officers ‘so as to strengthen them in coping with the challenges of a democratic government.’ Moore announced that the training programme for the Nigerian military would ‘enhance professionalism and ensure that the military subordinate themselves to civil authority.’



Another effort being made to discourage military intervention in politics is active political re-education of officers and men. Danjuma and the service chiefs have visited major military establishments to speak to military personnel on the role of the military under the new political system. In a widely quoted speech, Danjuma explicitly ordered military commanders to dismiss ‘politically-inclined officers’.28 General Malu has warned that any soldier found to be ‘politically inclined’ would not only be dismissed but would be courtmartialled as well. Malu has also ordered that ‘any officer who announces a coup d’etat on radio should simply be approached immediately after and shot.’29

A big challenge for the military is how to reorient itself to its customary and constitutional role of defending Nigeria’s territorial integrity and subordinating the military to civil authority. General Abubakar has urged that the military should revert to its constitutional role, divest itself of involvement in politics, and subordinate itself to civil authority. On his part, General Babangida in an address to senior military officers said:


We should all ask ourselves whether or not it will be in our own corporate and even personal interest to continue to intervene in the political process of this great country at the level at which we have done so during the past twenty years...How can we ...put in place structures, institutions, processes, and values that will make military intervention in the governance of the country irrelevant and passe?30



In order to reassert supremacy of civil authority over the armed forces, it is imperative to supplement what the Obasanjo administration is doing with additional steps. First, there is a need for serious dialogue between the military and civilian politicians. The dialogue will open opportunities for exploring how best to restructure the military. The dialogue will also help to educate the military on civilian expectations of the armed forces.

Second, it is important to organize seminars and workshops on the political re-education of the military to emphasize that the military has no duty to intervene in the political process. Though Afolabi’s claim that ‘There can’t be anything like coup in this country for now; if any soldier messes up, even Nigeria’s grass will rise up against such coup,’31 is an obvious hyperbole, it does capture a general sentiment in the country that Nigeria no longer has any tolerance for military intervention in politics. Danjuma appears to be aware of this. As he has pointed out:


We must resist the temptation to be cajoled into illegal activities like coups. The era of coups is gone worldwide, so we must learn to subordinate ourselves to civil authority. For those who may feel inclined to such illegal acts, now is the best time to leave, as the armed forces have no place for political officers. Your commanders have been directed to search and flush out such officers to save our nascent democracy and indeed the future of this great country.32


Danjuma reminded military officers that the enthronement of democracy in Nigeria has given the armed forces ‘a new lease of life. It is our duty to use this lease to rediscover our good old ways and re-introduce true professionalism. The perks we used to arrogate to ourselves must be checked. All our actions will be examined critically by the public and the National Assembly. Civil-military relationships must be cordial at all times.’33



Third, it is not enough to disband the security agencies created for the sole purpose of terrorizing Nigerians. All soldiers who engaged in human rights violations must be prosecuted. Fourth, the international community can help the Nigerian government by providing funds for demobilization and resettlement of military personnel.




1. Vanguard, Wednesday, 29 September 1999.

2. In addition to official statements against the coup, the Senate passed a resolution condemning it.

3. See Vanguard, Friday, 3 September 1999.

4. See The Nigerian Tribune, 2 July 1967.

5. ‘Democracy Beckons in Nigeria’, West Africa, 29 July-4 August 1996, p. 1168.

6. For a scholarly analyses of military coups in Nigeria, see Toyin Falola and Julius Ihonvbere, The Rise and Fall of Nigeria’s Second Republic, 1979-84, Zed Books, London, 1985. For the soldiers’ own rationale for coups in Nigeria, see Ben Gbulie, Nigeria’s Five Majors: Coup d’etat of 15th January 1966 First Inside Account, Africana Educational Publishers, Onitsha, 1981; Adewale Ademoyega, Why We Struck: The Story of the First Nigerian Coup, Evans Brothers, Ibadan, 1981; David Akpode Ejoor, Reminiscences, Malthouse Press, Lagos, 1989; Joe Garba, Revolution in Nigeria: Another View, Africa Books Ltd, London, 1982.

7. Julius O. Ihonvbere, ‘Are Things Falling Apart? The Military and the Crisis of Democratization in Nigeria’, The Journal of Modern African Studies 34 (2), 1996, p. 193.

8. Attahiru M. Jega, The Military and Democratization in Nigeria. Paper presented at the conference on Dilemmas of Democratization in Nigeria, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 10-12 November 1995, p. 1.

9. Attahiru Jega, ibid., p. 9.

10. Ibrahim Babangida, For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today: Selected Speeches of IBB, Volume II, Safari Books, Ibadan, 1991, p. 186.

11. Ibid.

12. ‘Hope Betrayed’, Interview with Brigadier David Mark, Newswatch, 11 April 1994.

13. Julius O. Ihonvbere, ‘The Military and Nigerian Society: The Abacha Coup and the Crisis of Democratization in Nigeria’, in Eboe Hutchful and Abdoulaye Bathily (eds), The Military and Militarism in Africa, CODESRIA, Dakar, 1998, p. 508.

14. See ‘Last Chance for our Military,’ The Post Express, 22 June 1998.

15. For a detailed analysis of maladministration by state military governors, see the cover story, ‘Farewell to Failure’, Tell, September 1996, pp. 10-16. While many of the state governors failed to pay the salaries of civil servants, they awarded multimillion naira contracts for dubious projects.

16. Obaro Ikime, ‘Professionalize the Army’, The Post Express, 22 June 1998.

17. Claude E, Welch, Jr, ‘Civil-Military Agonies in Nigeria: Pains of an Unaccomplished Transition,’ Armed Forces and Society 21(4) Summer 1995, p. 610.

18. Text of an address by President Olusegun Obasanjo, Abuja, 29 May 1999.

19. Ibid.

20. Ibid.

21. See Muyiwa Akintude, ‘The General takes Lessons in Democracy’, Africa Today, September 1999, p. 9.

22. On Danjuma’s illness, see Henry Ugbolue, ‘High Game of Chess’, TheNews, 12 July 1999, pp. 14-17.

23. It should be noted, however, that Obasanjo did appoint three people from the dominant ethnic groups, General Aliu Mohammed, General Abdullahi Mohammed and Musiliu Smith as national security adviser, chief of staff (state house) and inspector general of police respectively.

24. Text of a speech, ‘The Armed Forces Shall Rise Again’, by General T. Yakubu Danjuma, to officers and men of the Mechanized Division, Nigerian Army, Kaduna, 11 October 1999.

25. Ibid.

26. Colonel Yohanna Madaki, Sunday Punch, 26 September 1999, p. 27.

27. For instance, a joint military exercise will be held with the British military in the early part of 2000. See The Guardian, Wednesday, 3 November 1999.

28. The Guardian, Tuesday, 12 October 1999.

29. See Nigeria News Network, 8 October 1999.

30. Ibrahim Babangida, For Their Tomorrow We Gave Our Today: Selected Speeches of IBB, Safari Books, Ibadan, 1991, p. 168.

31. Afolabi is the Internal Affairs Minister in the Obasanjo government. See The Guardian, 18 October 1999.

32. See The Guardian, 12 October 1999.

33. Ibid.