What are the Achievements of Military rule in Nigeria? In a general view, it could be argued that the military contributed little or nothing to the growth of Nigeria but that is a fallacy. A critical analysis of military and civil rule in Nigeria has shown that majority of the notable developments which Nigeria has achieved today was initiated by the military. This those not however override the fact that military rule was dictatorial in Nigeria because the rights of many Nigerians were deprived from their fundamental human rights.
Haven said that, it is also worthwhile to note that military rule in Nigeria was not totally a failure. In this article, we will be looking critically at some of the achievements of the military in Nigeria. It enjoin you to read carefully as i highlight them.
Before we move to the crux of thid article, it is important to note that not all the military regimes contributed positively to the growth of Nigeria. Apparently, some of them was be characterized with intense economic downfall and underdevelopment. Only few had good achievements.
1. Maintains of peace and unity: Undoubtedly, the military did a great job in bringing peace and unity to Nigeria. After the independence of Nigeria, there was so much crisis in the country. All the regions were against themselves, but with the intervention of the military, the country saw light.
Military rule also saved Nigerians from the religious disputes caused by Nigerian politicians. The country was forced to be in peace for the first time because of the tyrannical type of leadership introduced by the military.
2. State creation: You will agree with me that majority of the states in Nigeria was created during military regime. On the 27th of May, 1967, 12 states were created. After that, 19 more states were created under Gowons regime. This continued until the 36 states of Nigeria were created.
If you understand the structure of a good government very well, you will see that this creation of state brought the government nearer to the people. It also aided faster development in the country.
3. Introduction of new currency: It will surprise you to know that during military regime in Nigeria, there was an introduction of new currency in the country. This contributed to the image of the country internationally. The old currency of pound, shilling and pence was changed to niara and kobo.
Research shows that this single act increased the value of Nigerian currency considerably. In fact, Nigerian currency at that time was better than that of many top countries in the world today.
4. Introduction of NYSC: The administration of General Gowon (which was a military rule) introduced the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) program in Nigeria. This was with the aim of encouraging mobility of labour and national unity. NYSC has apparently helped most of the newly graduated youths of Nigeria. It also promoted patriotism amongst Nigerians.
Even till today, the current government of Nigeria still support this program. This shows that the military achieved a lot just with the introduction of NYSC.
5. Provision of a new constitution: Obasanjo was another military head of state that achieved a alot before leaving office. One of his achievements was the introduction of a new constitution. By tracing the history of the constitution of Nigeria, you will see that the changing of constitutions immediately after military regime always bring about development in the newer constitution.
When the new constitution is drafted, the military usually made sure that some of the loopholes or lacunas in the previous constitution were filled. By so doing the military introduced constitutions that was difficult for civilians to manipulate.
6. Formation of ECOWAS: Have you asked yourself when ECOWAS was created? Well, it is also one of the achievements of military rule in Nigeria. Gowon was one of the military head who pioneered this achievement. Today, ECOWAS is seen as one of the strongest unions in Africa and this impacted positively to the image of Nigeria.
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7. Introduction of operation feed the nation: Operation Feed the Nation (Also known as OFN) was introduced during military rule in Nigeria. It was one of the programs that pushed Nigeria higher in the field of Agriculture. When it was introduced in 1976, Nigeria saw abundance of food. In fact, the country started exporting some foods to other countries of the world.
Though that regime can be condemned for being undemocratic. It should also be noted that there has not be anything like OFN in Nigeria since the end of military rule in the country.
8. Infrastructural development: There was also some high level of infrastructural development during military regime. At that time, there was good road, good airports, bridges etc. Lagos which was the capital of Nigeria also saw huge developments. It was one of the notable cities in Africa because of the wonderful leadership of the military.
9. Local government reform: Before the intervention of the military, the local government administration in Nigeria was directly controlled by the federal and state governments. Well, this stopped after the local government reform of 1976 which was done during military rule.
To a very large extent, the military was able to strengthen the local government by making it a one-tier government system. This reform also gave local governments higher autonomy as opposed to how it was before.
10. Introduction of new capital territory: Military rule in Nigeria also introduced a new capital territory in the nation. It was relocated from Lagos to Abuja because Abuja was argued to be the center of Nigeria. This may not be seen directly as an achievement, but it shows, at least, that the military was active in their leadership to have considered that.
11. Introduction of the Universal Primary Education (UPE): From the history of Nigeria, military regime can be said to have contributed more to education than civilian rule. During military regime, the military introduced a program called the Universal Primary Education (UPE). This program was aimed at making education totally free of charge in Nigeria. I mean, students where asked not to pay even 5 Naira to go to school.
This great achievement has not been recorded in Nigeria since then. Even in government owned schools today, students are asked to pay indirectly and that is why many Nigerians are still uneducated.
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This is where I am going to end for today’s article. With the points I have discussed so far, i don’t think you should still doubt whether or not military rule contributed to the country. Of course, the answer is yes. Nonetheless, it should also be noted that military rule was not democratic in nature.