History Of Nigeria Military Rule

The military history of Nigeria since the colonial rule began precisely on the 1st October 1966. The country was at its infantile stage and was still trying to adapt to its new state of independence.

However, this process was shortlived by the military folks and less than 6 years after independence, Sir Ahmadu Bello; the post-independence leader of the country was overthrown. This happened on the 15th of January 1966 and that marked the beginning of military rule in the country.

The first ever coup was quite bloody and 11 senior Nigerian politicians and 2 soldiers were murders. Also, 3 soldiers were kidnapped in the course of the coup. The coup plotters attacked Ibadan, Lagos and Kaduna within a period of 2 days. However, these plotters were eventually subdued.

It was Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu that officially announced the successful coup on Radio Nigeria in Kaduna.

The 1993 coup resulted from the pressure on General Ibrahim Babangida to shift towards a democratic government. Babangida resigned and appointed Ernest Shonekan as interim president on 26 August 1993. Shonekan’s transitional administration only lasted three months, as a result of a palace coup led by General Sani Abacha. On September 1994, General Sani Abacha issued a decree that placed his government above the jurisdiction of the courts, effectively giving him absolute power

Also Read: History of Nigerian Constitutional Development (1914 – 1960)


Tribal loyalty
Regional differences
Politicisation of the army
Dispute over census result
Unacceptable election results
Low level of economic development


Infrastructural development: Such as construction of roads, airports, bridges, establishment of institutions, etc.
Breaking into units: The military prevented the country from breaking into units, e.g., civil war.
States creation: The military succeeded in the creation of states and local government councils.
Nigerian foreign policy: The military brought about a positive change in the Nigerian foreign policy.
Local government reforms: This was done in 1976 and 1990 making it a one-tier local government structure.
Promotion of national integration:The NYSC, federal government schools, etc were established to promote national integration.
Mass oriented programmes: Programmes like DEFRI, NDE, OFN, werev massively initiated.
Education: Education took a giant stride during the military rule. Many federal and state universities and polytechnics were set up.

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