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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.
Table of Contents
Title Page – – – – – – – – – i
Approval Page – – – – – – – – ii
Dedication – – – – – – – – – iii
Acknowledgement – – – – – – – iv
Abstract – – – – – – – – – viii
Table of contents – – – – – – – – ix
Chapter One: General Introduction
1.1 Background of the Study – – – – – 1
1.2 Statement of the Problem – – – – – 4
1.3 Objectives of the Study – – – – – – 7
1.4 Significance of the Study – – – – – 7
1.5 Literature Review – – – – – – 8
1.6 Theoretical Framework – – – – – – 21
1.7 Hypotheses – – – – – – – – 21
1.8 Method of Data Collection – – – – – 23
1.9 Limitation of the Study – – – – – – 23
1.10 Definition of Terms – – – – – – 24
Chapter Two: Military Intervention in Nigerian Politics
2.1 The major causes of military intervention in Nigerian
Politics – – – – – – – – 25
2.2 The Establishment of the Nigeria Military – – – 35
2.3 The Military and Political Transition – – – 36
Chapter Three: Ethno-Political Organizations formed in Different
Parts of the Country
3.1 Roles played by Ethno-Political Organization formed in
different parts of the Country – – – – – 43
3.2 Ethno-Political Organization in Nigeria: An Ethno-Regional
Profile – – – – – – – – 52
3.3 Ethno-Political Organizations and Phases of Transition – 55
Chapter Four: Nigeria’s Transition to Democratic Rule
4.1 The Prospects and Challenges in Nigerian‟s Transition to
Democratic Rule in Nigeria – – – – – 65
4.2 A Structuralist History of Transitions to Democracy in
Nigeria – – – – – – – – 73
4.3 Ethnic Politics in Nigeria – – – – – 86
Chapter Five: Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations
5.1 Summary – – – – – – – – 93
5.2 Conclusion – – – – – – – – 97
5.3 Recommendation – – – – – – – 99
Bibliography – – – – – – – – 102
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 Tocquevillean and Schumpetarian
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 reexamination 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
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
2. Does ethno political organizations induce military intervention?
3. What are the challenges in Nigeria‟s transition to democratic rule in
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.


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