Military Rule In Nigeria


  1. Characteristics of Military Rule
  2. Reasons for Military Intervention In Nigeria
  3. The Structure of Military Rule in  Nigeria
  4. Achievements of Military Rule in Nigeria
  5. The Weakness or Failure of Military Regime in Nigeria


Nigeria’s first military junta began following the 1966 Nigerian coup d’état which overthrew Prime Minister Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi was made the Head of the Federal Military Government of Nigeria, but was soon overthrown and murdered in a coup in July of the same year.

A. Characteristics of Military Rule

  1. The Military is hierarchical and centralised
  2. It does not tolerate opposition
  3. The form of Government is dictatorial
  4. Suspension of constitution
  5. Absence of rule of law
  6. It monopolises the instruments of violence
  7. Laws are made through issuing of decrees
  8. There is fusion of the executive and legislative arms of the Government
  9. Involvement of civilians in the administration
  10. Discipline and obedience to higher commands

B. Reasons for Military Intervention in Nigeria

  1. Politicisation of the military
  2. Tribal loyalties
  3. Regional based political parties
  4. Disputes over 1962 and 1963 census results
  5. General election crisis of 1964
  6. The Action Group crisis of 1962
  7. Western Nigeria Election crisis of 1965
  8. Allegation of corruption, nepotism etc among politicians
  9. Mismanagement of public funds
  10. Low level of honest and reliable leadership
  11. Low level of economic development

C. The Structure of Military Rule in Nigeria

  1. The Head of State/President
  2. The Supreme Military Council (SMC); the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC)
  3. The National Council States
  4. The Council of Ministers
  5. The Judiciary
  6. The Civil Service

D. Achievements of the Military Rule in Nigeria

  1. Infrastructural developments e.g. roads, airports, railways etc
  2. Creation of States and Local Governments
  3. Encouragement of regional cooperation e.g. ECOWAS
  4. Keeping the unity of the country
  5. Local Government Reforms
  6. Promotion of National Integration e.g.NYSC
  7. Mass-oriented programme e.g. DEFRI, NDE
  8. The new Federal Capital Territory
  9. Introduction of new currency
  10. Change of driving pattern from Left to Right
  11. Growth in Education Sector
  12. Introduction of new constitution

E. The Weakness or Failures of the Military Regime in Nigeria

The Military Regime:

  1. Was based on dictatorship
  2. Didn’t tolerate criticism
  3. Was responsible for the Nigeria Civil war
  4. Was corrupt
  5. There was absence of independence of the Judiciary
  6. Mismanagement and wastage of public funds
  7. Violation of rights of man
  8. Increases in crime rate
  9. Was undemocratic
  10. Had no press freedom
  11. Had no respect for the rule of law
  12. Laws were made by decrees
  13. Inability to conduct reliable and acceptable census