Military Rule and Political Transition in Nigeria: An Appraisal of Abacha Regime (1993-1998)
This study analyzes military rule and the political transition to democracy in Nigeria. It enquires into how military intervenes in the Nigerian politics in the recent time. The study also examines how corruption induces military intervention in Nigerian politics due to the embezzlement of public funds by our political leaders as well as mismanagement of government properties. This study looks at the major challenges in Nigeria‟s transition to democratic rule so as to establish the gap in the existing literature by examining the roles played by ethno-political organizations in the country and also the activities of some ethnic militias like OPC in the West, Arewa in the North and Youth organizations in the south.
Chapter One: Introduction
1.1 Background of the Study
In this study, I examined the relationship between ethno political organisations and the transition from military rule to civilian rule (democracy) in Nigeria between 1993 and 1998. I also inquire into both how ethno political organizations affected the process of democratisation and how the process, in turn, influenced their roles in politics generally, and in exacerbating or ameliorating political conflicts.
Ethno political organizations are pan ethnic formations serving or out porting to serve the political interest of their members, their co-ethnics and ethnic homelands. They could be seen as specific movement organisations pursuing more diffuse and generalized ethnic interests. The political role of ethnic organisations has been well documented by observers of Nigerian politics.
In fact, by the 1920s southern Nigeria was awash with such organizations with immediate and remote political aims, taking their names from respective communities and clans of their members. Recognising their incipient political aspiration, a 1935 colonial report described them as young men’s club of semi political nature.
By the middle years of colonialism in Nigeria, these young men‟s club were speedily turned into pan- ethnic organisations. Ethno- political organisations such as the Igbo aged grades or unions, the Hausa Fulani Jamiuyar Mutanen (Arewa) and Yoruba Egba Omo Oduduwa, were the main ethno political organisations ravaging our country Nigeria, before the attainment of our independence on October, 1960. These pan ethnic organisations were to become important actors in the democratic struggle of Nigerian people against colonial rule, which culminated in independence in 1960. The salutary roles they played in the first were of democratization in Nigeria, including the dynamics of their relations with the colonialist and another has been articulated by some studies.
Nevertheless, the precipitate decline of Nigeria into authoritarian rule a few years after independence, characterised by nearly three decades of military rule, has also been blamed on the political intervention of these ethnic organisations.
Consequently, when the military seized power and banned all political parties in 1966, at least 26 tribal and cultural associations were also banned.
Still, ethno political organisations remained central in Nigerian politics generally, and in the recent process of ending authoritarian rule in particular. Some of the organisation that emerged in this process include the Egbe Afenifere, literally meaning persons wishing to protect their interest in association with others and Egba Ilosiwaju Yoruba (Association of Yoruba progressive) claiming to represent Yoruba interest, the Mkpoko Igbo (union of Igbo‟s) for the Igbo, the movement for the survival of Ogoni people (MASSOP) for the minority Ogonis and the northern Elders Forum representing or perceived to represent Hausa Fulani interests. Some of them have coalesced into larger inter ethnic and regional ensembles like the southern Mandata Group with purports to represent all ethnic interest in the south of the country.
The primary objective of this study is to explain the roles of ethno political organisations, in the transition to democracy in Nigeria which began in 1986, when the then military government of General Babangida announced its transition programme. That attempts was botched, perhaps temporarily, with the annulment of presidential election on June 12th, 1993. Three months later, the military led by General Sani Abacha, a prominent member of the Babangida administration, seized power and promised to return the country to a democratic government which he never did until he died in 1998.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Various studies have examined transitions to democracy in Africa, often situating them within the context of the so called third wave of democracy, which refers to the recent experience of eastern European, Latin America and African countries.
Although there are still many dissenting voices calling for more rigorous examination of the concept of democracy the dominant attitude is that the democracy on offer is settled, namely liberal/multi-party democracy/this attitude, in most cases, is both reflection and a result of the renaissance and resurgence of Tocqueville and Schumpeterian notions of democracy as institutional political arrangement and practices of west, and democratization as the spread of those institutions with them.
This process is also seen as ineluctable, contrary to this position, however the originality of Africa‟s transitions are undeniable. Surely, extra African influences have impacted on Africa‟s transition, but to be spread by proselytizing others. To be sure, the reversals already being experienced in democratic transitions in some African countries and recline into authoritarian rule in others, suggest to us the need for a re-examination of the democratic content of African transitions. One factor that many will agree is central to such re-examination is ethnicity. The interface between ethnicity and democracy has been prominent theme in extant literatures. Studies have focused on the reciprocal impact of ethnicity and multiparty democracy. While some argue a negative impact of ethnicity on democracy, others argue positive (or potentially positive) link. What is still lacking however, are in debt studies of the concrete experience of multi ethnic African societies in the light of transitions to democracy. That is the major concern of this study. In doing this, we must realize that the political interventions of ethnic groups in politics are not spontaneous.
Ethnic groups act in politics through their organizations. In fact, we know that ethnic organisations sometimes help to invent identities in the first place. Such organisations as they functioned in Nigeria‟s effort to transition to democratic rule between 1993 and 1998 constitute the focus of our study.
In a view to accomplishing this research work effectively, I therefore pose the following research questions:
1. Does corruption account for military intervention in Nigerian politics?
2. Does ethno political organizations induce military intervention?
3. What are the challenges in Nigeria‟s transition to democratic rule in Nigeria?
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The general objectives or purpose of this study is to examine the problems and prospects encountered by military rule in Nigeria with special references to political transition in Nigeria 1993 – 1998.
The specific objectives are:
1. To examine how corruption accounts for military intervention in Nigerian politics.
2. To determine the roles played by ethno-political organizations in military intervention.
3. To find out the major challenges in Nigerian‟s transition to democratic rule.
1.4 Significance of the Study
The most important significance of this study is that even in the context of the liberal democratic project, what remains largely lacking in existing studies is analysis of the specificity of ethnicity in on-going democratic transitions in Africa. There is need to analyse the impact of ethnicity not only the process of transition, but also its different phases.
This study is therefore significance because it helps research students or scholars, as well as those who wish to specialise in this area of study, to understand and be in position to analyse the major influence or causes of military interventions in Nigerian politics, again the main roles being played by ethno political organisations in Nigeria whether positive or negative, and finally, to understand the prospects and challenges being faced by the military and ethno political organisations in Nigeria‟s transition to civil rule.
1.5 Literature Review
Literature review of this work is based on different comments and findings of different scholars on their views and prospects about military in politics.
Ruth First, (1970) explained military intervention in relation think tank theories. One of such the ones was that expounded by Finer. The Finer explains intervention primarily in terms of social environment in which the military functions. According to levels of political cultures, which were determined by the strength or weakness attached to civilian institutions.
Janowitz School (1964) on the other hand, draws attention to the properties of military itself to its hierarchical organisation and its distinctive patterns of recruitment and training, control and discipline.
Huntington, (1964:194) sees military intervention as being political in nature. To him, in societies where social institutions and social forces are highly politicized, such as political universities, political bureaucracies, and political clergy and of cause political armed forces, military intervention is inevitable.
According to Alex Thomson (2000:131) he sees coup d etat as sudden illegal displacement of government in which members of the security forces play a prominent role. He says coup can be reactionary or revolutionary, bloody or bloodless. They must however be sudden, lasting a matter of hours or days rather than weeks.
For Steve Egbo, (2001:8) he sees military coup as a situation where the military may decide to overthrow the existing government and assume total control of the apparatus of the state and civil government at its highest level which is commonly known as coup d etat, it is often achieved through excessive violence and bloodshed.
In view of Emezi and Ndo, (1987:37) military rule is generally regarded as an aberration. A generally accepted political system in such a system that is governed directed and controlled by civilian political class which has been recruited by popular choice to the decision making structures of the state.
Ndo further argued that military rule is not a viable substitute to a properly and popularly elected government. A. K. Ocran observed that the competence of the military in the area of political leadership is unconstitutional. He argued that the soldiers should leave politics alone when they try to run a country. This is regardless of the fact that the military when compared with their civilian counterparts have shown to be more worthy of political leadership.
Isawa Elangwu, (1988:120) in his, Gowon: the Biography of a soldier_ statement takes a look at the political biography of Gowon. He observed that while Gowon demonstrated beyond doubt that he was an effective binder, his energies were soon too taxed by a number of dilemma in Nigerian political system. This dilemma he argues was later responsible for his dismiss in 1975. They include the inability to implement satisfactorily his nine point political programme. Announced in 1970, Black and African Festival of Arts and culture (FESTAC), Udoji salary awards and inflationary frails, labour strikes and a change for Gowon of his lieutenants who had been in office since 1967.
There was also industrial unrest, abandoned property issue, “Dodam Barracks Politics,” corruption of in high places especially among the lieutenants. The corruption of this lieutenants attracted public outcry that they should be removed. Yet Gowon remained adamant. He would see no need to primitive measures to check the excesses of his lieutenants.
As regards being more of political leadership as observed by Ocran, one wonders on how an ill-trained person would effectively lead without being eluded. It was against this backdrop that Oyediran stressed that it was only in the areas which are related to the normal functioning of the military as an institution that success has been much achieved. However, Ocran advocated that before political power can be handed over to the military and democratically elected civilian government there should be a transition to civil rule programme which would be lengthy so as to make room for the drafting of a new constitution, established of political institutions and the election of civilians into representative‟s political positions. He further asserts that there should be a reorientation of the masses Vis –a- Vis their social political psychological and economic consciousness. For Ocran, a complete demilitarization of the political system entails such a comprehensive programme of military transition to civil rule. He however, cautioned that any lastly transfer of political power would simply encourage the re-emergence of the military.
As laudable as this preposition might seem, it had so far served to perpetuate military rule due to the extensive process of military disengagement which such political programmes requires. To this extent, many military transitions to civil rule programmes tend to prolong military rule, on this issue of political education through state agencies, there tend to be a contradiction because of power can truly educate the masses on the principles of democracy.
A number of writers have their conceptions about the reason why corruption is prevalent in the military and other developing countries. Verda Eker, (1981:25- 70) in his article published in the journal of modern African studies sees corruption as a widespread phenomenon in the developing worlds. The term he argued is usually reserved for the practice of using power of office for making private gain in branch of the laws and regulations normally in force or as more simply defined by M. C. Milan, a public official is corrupt if he accepts money for doing something that he is under duty to do any way, that he is under duty to do or exercise a legitimate discretion, for improper reasons. He says that corruption flourish in Nigerian military because the necessary and sufficient conditions for its existence are prevalent in Nigeria. Among the necessary conditions are the existences of surplus national wealth, the concentration of political and economic decisions making power in official Dom and the high growth rate of national wealth? The necessary conditions are what he referred to as normal code and authority structure.
In order words, Verda is talking about the concentration of political and economic power and accelerated pace of economic development as fertile grounds for corruption. We shall however disagree with Verda because his assertions are highly deficient as an explanation tool for explaining corruption in Nigerian military. In the first place, his assertion that corruption is peculiar to developing countries such as Nigeria is false. Corruption also obtains in the advances western countries. The different is only in terms of degree and scope. And also, the accelerated pace of economic development are not fertile grounds for corruption. Rather it is the objective basis in the process and the character for which it creates that is responsible for corruption.
Also David H. Barbley (1966:732) in an article contained in western political Quarterly asserted that corruption in developing countries is not necessary antipathetic to the development of modern economic and social system. He argues that corruption has beneficial effects on developing countries, taking into consideration the economic and social cultural values of the area in question. Among the check list of his beneficial effect of corruption are increased in allocation of resources away from consumption into investment, increase in the quality of life of public servant, that corruption and nepotism could be emulated and adopted as norms.
In fact, there is a fundamental flaw and impairment in Barley‟s argument. His assertion that corruption is beneficial to developing countries and not to developed countries is deficient and fraught with fundamental bias. His works is an attempt to justify corruption in developing countries which has its origin in the colonial and post-colonial socio economic formations.
Another writer Collins Lacy (1965:1230-230) in his article n the journal of modern African studies sees the state as an arena with a great deal of behaviour are not geared towards the support of a single concept of national interest. He asserts that there are three reasons for this attitude. He says that idea of a national interest is weak because the idea of a nation is new and that the leaders are not aware of the official purpose requires of them. Another reason he argued was the new state because people are generally not aware of what the official roles requires.
Collins analysis is deficient because in the first instance, leaders, in developing countries are not unaware of the official role, required of them. It is also true that people are not aware of what is required of the officials. Many people in developing countries are aware of what the official should do while in office even though these officials and engaged in corrupt practices.
Another writer, Chinua Achebe, (1983:37) in his book: The Trouble with Nigeria, Sees corruption in Nigeria as an issue which has an objective basis on the Nigeria leaders. He asserts that corruption is rampant among Nigeria leaders. He goes further to argue that Nigeria in not different from any other country in the world, and that they are corrupt because the system in which they lived is corrupt and that ones the system is changed, corruption can be ameliorated. He identified seven deadly ills or maladies of Nigerian political leaders and society which includes the following: tribalism, self-conceit and flamboyance, lack of intellectual rigour, lack of patriotism, indiscipline and corruption.
Achebe‟s work is deficient because it fails to situate corruption and other ills of society within the capitalist economic system as well as the colonial and neo- colonial character of the Nigerian society. Also, it fails to put corruption within a conceptual framework.
Ankie M. M. Hoogrelt, (1992: 127-137) in his book: The Sociology of the Developed societies sees corruption as the evil companion vehicle for negotiation between badly integrated structures of social order.
According to him, corrupt practices in contemporary developing societies are much more pervasive, much more of and everybody pattern of life, and that they disrupt economic life to a fair greater than is the case in the advanced countries. Ankie failed to realize that corrupt practices are also pervasive in the advanced countries. Notable examples are the United State Watergate scandal and the British poulson affair.
Omotunde asserts that corruption exist if there is a division of government revenue of national income flow in order to argue the current government members private wealth, when the latter are not legally entitled to do so, we may have to note that the abuse of state power extends beyond the enrichment of the government officials themselves. It sometimes involves giving undue favours to other people with whom government officials have relationship.
Claude Ake, (1981:2) in his book political economy of Africa: sees corruption as an issue that has an obligation basis in the production process. He sees corruption as a phenomenon which created and is dependent on a particular socio- economic condition. He argued that corruption exist in capitalist and class societies which the capitalist state generates.
Okwudiba Nnoli, (1983:9) in his book, Introduction to politics: sees corruption as also having objectives in the production process. He argued that crop of leaders has been producing tends to be corrupt because they play what he called mental and psychological discipline which come to an individual as he uses labour in the production of value. He went further to argue that colonialism created this class of leaders who are a position of dominance in the post- colonial capitalist state like Nigeria. That this class leaders not only become corrupt demonstration but also collude with the international bourgeoisie class in perpetuating corruption in Nigeria.
Jemibewon (1978) in his book, A combatant in government observed that under Gowon‟s regime corruption had reached such a pitch that top public functionaries wallowing in it did not bother to take trouble to concerned he acts of corruption from public gaze. Onigu Otite (1982: 10) has also made some important attempt in explaining the effect of corruption on the basis of the coat benefits approach. In his constitution, he states that those who accept the positive side of corruption argue that:
A. widespread corruption would provoke resentment and promote the clause of a revolution beneficial to society in the long run.
B. corruption can challenge to excel others in competitive bidding and payment of high product efficiency in commodity production.
C. corruption provides a chance for groups other than political parties to articulate their political process.
The various point often referred to as the benefits of corruption are merely various ways by which those who control state power accumulate wealth for them. On the other hands, scandals associated with corruption could be beneficial to society in the sense of promoting political awareness. However, this has not been the case in Nigeria. The regular experience is that any government – civilian and military alike- that is involved in corruption faces the threat of military coup.
The incidence of corruption which the military had often justified for coming into government is what we have set out to re-examine.
1.6 Theoretical Framework
Theory is an explanatory thought, used in describing different political phenomenon. There are many theories that could explain political events, therefore the suitable theory for this work, military rule and political transition in Nigeria is the Power theory. This approach was derived from the ideas of some traditional thinkers such as: Machiavelli (1469 – 9527) Hobbes (1588-1679), and Nietzsche (1844 -1900) as well as modern writers like Max Weber, Catlin, Merriam, Lasswell, Kaplan, Watkins, Treitschke and Morgenthau. The emphasis of this approach is on the development of formidable military power and the making of wars as according to them the essence of the state power. According to Allen Ball (Modern Politics and Government, 1988), the concept of political power is a key concept in the study of politics. Because if politics is the resolution of conflict, the distribution of power within a political community determines how the conflict is to be resolved and whether the resolution is to be effectively observed by all parties.
The research formulates the following hypotheses based on the statement of the problems of thus:
1. Corruption accounts for military intervention in Nigerian politics such as the embezzlement of public funds.
2. Ethno-political organizations played some roles in military intervention of Nigerian politics through the activities of some political and religious groups in the country.
3. There are challenges in Nigeria‟s transition to civil rule in terms of the malpractices during elections and the failure of leadership quality by our leaders
1.8 Method of Data Collection and Data Analysis
The method of data collection adopted in carrying out this research work is the secondary data collection.
The secondary data collection refers to already collected data, stored or published. Source of secondary data include Books, Journals, Newspapers, Magazines, Gazettes in related areas.
According to Akindele (1989)
Finding the relevant facts on research
Projects in variably entails and involves
Acquiring the capacity to use the library
Proficiently and effectively.
I therefore consulted the library. The library constitutes the literature review of other scholars.
1.9 Limitation of the Study
Financial constraint of relevant and previous works in the aspect as they were few textbooks on management in the school library as well as journals. Again, the nature of the topic new event involved in the cause of completing this research work.
1.10 Definition of Terms
Democracy – A system of government, in which all the people of a country can vote, to elect their representatives.
Ethnicity – The fact of belonging to a particular race.
Transition – The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
Independence –The freedom from political control by other countries, the time when a country become politically independence.
Apolitical – Not interested in politics, not thinking politics are important.
MASSOP – Movement for the survival of Ogoni People.
Politics – According to Max-Weber, it is a means of striving to share power or suiting to influence the distribution of power either among state or among a group within the state.
Roles – It is the position that someone has in a situation/organization or society to perform.