The Military Junta and Civilian Politics in Nigeria

By Livinus Nnebedum

Across the over 200 countries in the world including 55 countries in Africa Nigeria inclusive, there had been struggle in the past for independence. Many countries in Africa had witnessed Military Regimes; interventions in politics. Call it military junta or coups.  Egypt experienced the first military coup in 1952 when Colonel Abdel Nasser took over power.

Togo was the first West African State to experience major coup which brought in General Eyadema to power in 1963 after removing President Olympio. In 1966 Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana was removed from power. In Nigeria on 15th January 1966, the first Military coup sacked the Civilian Government from Power.     This can be called battle for leadership. That is, Military Versus Civilians. At this juncture, let us have a brief over-view of some independence dates of African countries;

The earliest was Liberia in West Africa that got her independence in July 1847

South Africa in May 1910; Egypt in Feb 1922; Ghana on 6th March 1957; Nigeria Oct 1, 1960 Eritrea 24th May 1993; South Sudan July 2011 etc

Coming down to our dear country Nigeria, since after independence, in 1960, there had been 29 years of Military Junta. The historical analysis of Military and Civilian Regimes in Nigeria can throw more light on this.

Military Regimes in Nigeria Jan 15 to July 29, 1966; Major-General Aguiyi Ironsi was the Military Head of States (HOS) for 6 months

July 29, 1966 to July 29, 1975, General Yakubu Gowon was the Military HOS for 9 years

July 29, 1975 to Feb 13, 1976; General Murtala Mohammed was the Military HOS for 7 months

Feb13, 1976 to Sept 30, 1979 General Olusegun Obasanjo was the Military HOS for 3 years

Civilian Regime

October 1, 1979 to Dec 31, 1983, Alhaji Shehu Shagari was the Civilian HOS/President for 4 years

Another Military Regime

Dec 31, 1983 to August 27, 1985; General Muhammadu Buhari was the Military HOS for 2 years

August 27, 1985 to August 1993 General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida (IBB) was the Military HOS for 8 years

Interim National Government

August 1993 to Nov. 1993 Chief Ernest Shonekan was the Head of Interim National Government for 3 months

Military Regimes Continued

Nov. 1993 to June 1998 General Sani Abacha was the Military HOS for 5 years

June 1998 to May 29, 1999. Appointed Military HOS in the person of General Abdulsalami Abubakar for one year

Civilian Regimes in Nigeria Continues from May1999 to Date:

May 29, 1999 to May 2003; Chief Obasanjo was the Civilian HOS/President (1st tenure for 4 years)

May 2003 to May 2007; Chief Obasanjo was the civilian HOS/President for 2nd tenure (4 years)

May 2007 to May 2010; Alhaji Musa Yar’adua was the Civilian HOS/President for 3 years

May 6, 2010 to May 2011; Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was the Acting President of Nigeria after the death of Musa Yar’adua  for one year

May 2011 to May 2015; Dr. Goodluck Jonathan was the Civilian HOS/President for 4 years

May 2015 to Date; General Muhammadu Buhari is now the current Civilian HOS/President of Nigeria for 7 to 8 years

Coups and Counter-Coups and Military Intervention in Nigeria Politics

The first military coup was on Jan 15, 1966. Other ones follows;

On 29th July 1966

On 29th  July 1975

On 13th Feb 1976

On 31st Dec 1983

On 27th August 1985

In 1986

On April 22nd , 1990

On  Nov. 1993

On 1995

On  Dec 1997

From Daily Times Publications Special Edition 2003, Nigeria had recorded at least 11coups in the country. From my Analysis and records Nigeria had over 29 years of Military Regimes call it Military Junta or Military Politics. It is on records that Nigeria had only over 27 years of Civilian Regimes with Military guidance and 3 months of National Interim Government.

All the levels of Government in Nigeria with the Arms or Estates/Realms of Government should work as a team for progressive Nigeria. The levels of Government in Nigeria are: Federal State Local Government, now extended to; Town Union Government and Ward Levels.

It is worthy to extend it to other levels in no distant time, such levels to include:

Village Levels

Clans or Quarters

Kindred Levels

Family Levels

At present, Nigeria has four Arms or Estates/Realms of Government namely:





The Press is the 4th Estate or Realm of the Government, the Media that relay information which is power from the seat of Government to the door step of the Governed and Vice-Versa.

Livinus Nnebedum, Author & Public Affairs Analyst is a Visiting Lecturer at Federal College of Education (Technical), Umunze, Anambra State.