Nigeria At 58, The Journey From 1960

Nigeria At 58, The Journey From 1960

Nigeria was coming into a period of rapid social and economic change by the she gained independence in 1960. But just fifteen years later, her progress was shunted by political chaos, and then a military coup d’état, followed by a thirty-month civil war. Let us take a look at how the country was wielded from inception.

The federal government at independence comprised of three parties: the majorly northern NPC led by Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, who was also the first Federal Prime Minister; the majorly Eastern NCNC, led by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe; and the majorly Western AG, led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

The First Republic ended in January 1966 after a coup that eliminated key Nigerian heads, including the First Prime Minister.

Until early January 1966, the Nigerian military behaved according to tradition. Their basic concern was the defence and security of Nigeria. On the night of January 15, 1966, five middle level officers led groups of army men to overthrow the government of Nigeria. Through this the prime minister, Sir. Tafawa Balewa and his finance minister, Chief Okotie Eboh were murdered together with the premiers of the Northern and western regions the heads of the military major general Aguiyi Ironsi became the commander in chief of the Nigerian armed forces and Head of State. This was the beginning of a long stay of the military in Nigerian politics. Consequently, the first republic constitution was suspended and replaced with military decrees. During this regime the four regions of the country was divided into provinces.   A military coup was effected leading to the assassination of Ironsi in July, 1966.

Following the assassination of General Ironsi in July 1966, a northern Lt. Col. (latter general) Yakubu Gowon became the head of the state and commander in chief of the Armed Forces. Gowon’s choice as head of the state was due to the fact he was the most senior northern officer left in the army, the others having been killed in the bloody coup of January 15, 1966. Hence, more senior officers from the south were not acceptable to the northern young military officers in the forefront of leading the coup. The first major task that Gowon faced was that of keeping Nigeria as one country, a civil war which lasted thirty months was fought between the federal troops and troops of a newly declared republic of Biafra., though Nigeria fought the war without borrowing from other countries, in all respects it was in an expensive war, both in term of loss of life and money. The civil war ended in January, 1970 and a period of reconciliation, reconstruction and rehabilitation began in earnest. In the nine-point transition programme announced, he promised to disengage the military from politics by October 1, 1974, he announced that the 1976 disengagement date was unrealistic. This later led to his ouster by Brigadier (later General) Murtala Mohammed on July 29, 1975.

On the evening of July 29, 1975, Brigadier Muritala Mohammed, Director of Army Signals and Gowon’s commissioners for communication, announced the formation of a new government. He sacked all the service chief under Gowon, his commissioners, as well as his Governors. All the sacked officers were later subjected to probe exonerated only two Brigadiers Oluwole Rotimi (west) and Mobolaji Johnson (Lagos) over charges of corrupt practices. These found guilty were dismissed from the armed forces.
General Mohammed soon announced a four-year political transition designed to terminate on 1st October 1979. He also embarked on his reformist approach to sanitizing the nation. Hence, the pace of action of the Mohammed regime was. He set up panels to look into various aspects of the Nigerian life, including the need for a new federal capital and the creation of more states. The regime also injected a sense of direction. Workers got to work promptly and did not stay away from work without good reasons. But the economy suffered for his mass importation syndrome.
On February 3, 1976, Murtala Mohammed announced the creation of seven more states, thus raising, the number of states in Nigeria to nineteen. Military Governors were appointed, and as was the tradition then, all changes took ‘‘immediate effect’’. The panel that worked on the new state creation was headed by Justice Ayo Irikefe, who later became the nation’s Chief Justice.
The committee that worked on the need or otherwise for a new national capital was headed by Justice Akinola Aguda. The committee concluded that Lagos had become too small and congested to continue as the nations capital that the colonial masters limited the federal capital to Lagos Island, and did not extend it beyond the cater bridge to the mainland and Apapa was responsible for the congestion of Lagos. A green land located around the centre of the country was named as the Federal capital Territory, and a section of it called Abuja was earmarked for development in the near future. One of the reasons given for moving the capital was to give all Nigerians ‘’Sense of belonging’’ in the federal capital, which Lagos no longer capable of providing. General Murtala Mohammed was gunned down on February 13, 1976 on his way to work from his residence at Ikoyi.

It is widely believed that the tenure of Mohammed and Obasanjo should be tied together. The unsuccessful coup and the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed on February 13, 1976, brought General Olusegun Obasanjo to power. And despite the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed, General Obasanjo saw to it that the promise to return Nigeria to a democratically elected, government was maintained and then proceeded with the execution of the transition to civil rule programme. The constitution drafting committee, which had earlier been set up by General Murtala Mohammed was to produce an enduring and workable constitution for the country. Following the submission of the drafter constitution by the constitution drafting committee a constituent assembly was set up by General Obasanjo in August 1977 to deliberate on it.
On October 1, 1979, General Obasanjo and his junta handed over to Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari who took the title of the Executive President of Nigeria.

Nigeria’s second republic, was a presidential system of government operated on the American mode. It was unlike the first republic which operated on the British parliamentary model. The presidential system was preferred to the parliamentary one because it provided a single individual as executive who could decide and act promptly when necessary. An election was held between five political parties but Alhaji Shehu Shagari of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) won the 1979 election. The other political parties were Unity party of Nigeria (UPN) led by chief Obafemi Awolowo, the Nigerian Peoples party (NPP) led by Alhaji Waziri Ibrahim, and the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) led by Alhaji Aminu Kano. The NPN obtained the largest share of the votes in the elections, with the UPN coming second, the NPP and PRP fourth, and fifth respectively.

The civilian government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari was overthrown by the army on 31 December, 1983 – to the great relief of many Nigerians and a military government headed by major – General Muhammed Buhari was instituted in its place.

Following the collapse of the second republic and id-of military rule in Nigeria, there was no action initially to move nation towards a constitutional government. The Buhari regime that took over power, concentrated attention on the resuscitation battered economy and had no time for any political programme. General Muhammad Buhari made it abundantly clear that the issue of political programme had to wait until the economy had improved drastically. The government however became authoritarian repressive and high-handed it its governing style. Various draconian decrees were promulgated. As a result of these developments many politician were arrested and jailed, a thing no one thought was possible before then.
For the first time in the history of Nigeria, the citizenry was hubued with a sense of discipline. Lawlessness seemed to be on his way out of the land, while civil and cultured behaviours began to a regular feature of the nation’s daily life, especially in the cities.
General, Buhari military regime was a determined military government that tried to cure the several ills of the nation, but it was however a politically naïve government. On august 27, 1985, the Buhari a palace coup staged by General Ibrahim Babangida.

On assumption of power, Babangida’s first task was to abrogate some of the draconian decrees and set the victims free. He also pledged to respect human rights and disengage the military from governance. He then set the machinery in motion to produce new constitution from the Third republic. Three fundamental were set up by the Babangida administration. They are Political Bureau, the Constitution Review Committee and the Constituent Assembly. The political Bureau, which commenced its task on January 13, 1986, organised national debate, collated and synthesized the views of Nigerians on the types of political system to be evolved in the country. Following the omission of its report, the constitutional review committee was setup on September 7, 1987 to review the first and second republic constitutions in line with the accepted recommendation of the political bureau the report of the constitution review committee assembly on May 11, 1988. After about one year of deliberate on the draft constitution it was submitted to the armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) which effected some modifications and later promulgated the constitution in 1989.
After many postponements, the presidential election which was held on June12, 1993 was however annulled by Babangida regime on June 23, 1993. Eventually, Babangida regime was compelled to ‘’step aside’’ after installing Interim National Government on August 26, 1993.

Based on the mounting opposition against the Interim National Government (ING) and its declaration as an illegal regime by a Federal High Court in Lagos, General Sani Abacha who was the ING’s secretary of defence, moved swiftly to topple the government and installed himself as the new Head of State on November 17, 1993. To consolidate his power, General Abacha embarked upon a gradual process of total elimination of all opposition to his new regime.
Although the 1989 constitution was not allowed to operate, the military government of General Sanni Abacha decided to produce a new constitution that would usher in the fourth republic in Nigeria. This represents the sixth phase of the constitution making in the country. It was preceded by the establishment in January 2994 of a constitutional Conference. Although, the conference was a diversely criticized because of the unrepresentative nature of the membership, it made far-reaching recommendations in the draft constitution, which formed the bedrock of the Abacha regimes political transition programme. A fundamental recommendation made by the constitutional conference was the division of the country into six geographical zones for the purpose of power sharing at the federal level, notably, the rotation of the office of the president, vice president, prime-minister, deputy prime-minister, senate president and speaker of the house of representative. The conference also recommend the establishment of a federal character commission as well as the composition of the federal cabinet in proportion to the votes won by each political party at the polls.
On October 1, 1995, Abacha announced a transition timetable for the restoration of democratic civilian rule in October 1998. This was a repetition of the Babangida’s abortion transition programme prescribing eletion into local council, state assemblies, state governorship, national assembly and the presidency. General Abacha died on June 8, 1998.

General Abdusalam Abubakar immediately succeeded Abacha as the new head of state on June 9, 1998. Since general political atmosphere had improved as the self-succession saga was terminated Until June, 1998, Nigeria had been a pariah state by the international community owing to human right abuses by government and the inordinate ambition of Abacha to succeed himself. The first step taken by Abubakar government, which received international applause, was the release of political detainees, including general Olusegun Obasanjo, former Head of state, who was serving a 15 year jail term for his alleged complicity in the 1995 coup plot, Beko Ransome Kuti, human activities, Chris Anyanwu, publisher of the I magazine, Ibrahim Dasuki, the deposed Sultan of Sokoto unionist, Chief Frank Kokori.
However, the first major crisis arose in connection with Chief Moshood Abiola, the acclaimed winner of the annulled June election, who died in detention on July 7, his death, especially in the southwest of Nigeria, paralysed economic for some days.
General Abdusalam Abubakar conducted general election and handed over power to the president elect, General Olusegun Obasanjo, at the Eagle square, Abuja on May 29, 1999 for the restoration of democratic rule in Nigeria.

Olusegun Obasanjo the former military head of state was elect as the democratic leader in 1999. During his regime as the executive president some development emerged in the country, salary of staff was increased, Nigerian experience increment in the price of fuel subsequently. In order to prevent corruption in the country Obasanjo introduce Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and Independent Corrupt Practice (ICPC) in order to see to corrupt practise in the country and to curb corruption. He was re-elected into power in 2003 and ended his second tenure in May 29, 2007. He conducted election in 2007 and Shehu Musa Yar’adua won the presidential sit through Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)

Alhaji Yar’adua won the 2007 election and became the succeeding president after Obasanjo. During his regime Nigeria experience peace and he also concentrate most on rule of law he is of the notion that every humans are equally and should be treated equally. Nigeria could have experience great development in his regime if not that president Yar’adua was a sickler. He died in year 2010 due to his frequent sickness.

Vice President Goodluck Jonathan became the president in 2010 after the death of the president, Musa Yar’adua, and he conducted election in 2011 which he won and became the president. During his tenure Nigeria experience100 percentincrement of fuel prices due to his subsidised programme with the promise that he will use the money to build refineries across the country (the promise which he has not fulfil till the publication of this work). Nigeria experienced mass killing by Boko Haram group, a group which is considered to be a muslim organisation. This group of people push the country into danger by bombing here and there thousands of Nigerians lose their live daily by Boko Haram. Boko Kara is one of the major problems of President Jonathan’s administration (a problem which he has hot solved till the publication of this work).

Former military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari became Nigera’s president in 2015. After the year 2015, free and fair election. During his tenure, He reduced fuel price from 87 naira to 85 naira and also promised that he will build refineries across the country. He set target that by December 2015 mass killing by Boko Haram group will stop. He organised presidential chat in which he gave masses opportunity to communicate freely with him for the first time since his inauguration.
But the economy has not really felt the boost he promised upon coming to office, and this is making Nigerians displeased and agitated, and unsure about whether they want to have him remain in power for a second term.

About The Author

Kingsley Alaribe is a Digital Marketer with 1stNews, and writes the weekly column, Strangers and Lovers. He is also a Data Scientist. Email: [email protected]

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