The Army Hasn’t Returned to the Barracks

The Army Hasn't Returned to the Barracks - elsieisy blog

By Wale Giwa

We can recall that our great Nation, Nigeria, gained political independence on the 1st of October, 1960. I only mentioned “political independence” here, for a particular reason. Well, that’s a topic for another discussion.

Nigeria became independent due to the incessant efforts and struggle of its finest intellectuals. They include; Funmi Ransome kuti, Jaja Wachukwu, Adedoyin, just to mention a few. They were on a mission to rescue Nigeria from the claws of European colonialism. They even addressed the British Delegates in full “Agbada” and other native attires. Eventually, their effort paid off. Nigeria became an independent Country in 1960.

In 1960, Nigeria had its first Republic, having the British Parliamentary style as its form of Government. At that time, things looked so good, but the table was turned around when a fight between Awolowo and Akintola, erupted in the Western Region. A special commissioner, Coker, was assigned to investigate the issue. He (Coker) discovered the corrupt practices of Awolowo, money looting and an attempt to overthrow the Balewa Government. He (Awolowo) was immediately charged with treason which led to his imprisonment. It was time for election, but unfortunately, it was massively rigged. Young soldiers watched in disgust, how ballot boxes were being stuffed and elections were being rigged by our so called intellectual politicians. All these, swept the Army into power, which brought about the first Coup in Nigeria.

Military rule in Nigeria lasted from 1966 to 1998. During this period, Nigerians were under the dictatorial leadership of several Heads of states, chronologically including: Generals Aguiyi Ironsi, Yakubu Gowon, Murtala Mohammed, Olusegun Obasanjo, Mohammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Sani Abacha, and Abdulsalam Abubakar, who later completed the political transition to civilian rule, a transition that had been done earlier, resulting to the second and third Republic.

The Army Hasn't Returned to the Barracks

At the beginning, Nigerians were so welcoming of the military, whose aim was to “clean up the Country”. Eventually, the military proved to be just as bad and corrupt as the politicians were. As a result of this, Nigerians began to mount pressure on the military, to restore power back to the civilians again. Eventually, power was restored back the politicians in 1999, under the leadership of General Abdulsalam Abubakar, which ushered in the fourth and present Republic. At this stage, we can safely say the Army have returned to the barracks. But the challenging questions are; have they really returned to the barracks? Is Nigeria still under the leadership of military officers (who are meant to protect the state) or of civilians?

It is quite unfortunate that the subsequent leaders of the fourth Republic, were the former Heads of state, who ruled Nigeria during the military era. In fact, I would argue that these so called leaders in the fourth republic, were responsible for bringing corruption into Nigeria, which has continued to dig the Country till date. The dubious, corrupt and dictatorial practices of these retired military officers and Generals (who ought to be training younger military officers), brought Nigeria into the political turmoil that we are all experiencing today.

No wonder the great Musical Icon, Fela Anikulapo Kuti said, “the same old politicians wey spoil Nigeria before, na dem dey there now”. Infact, it is more surprising that these retired military Generals who became Presidents in the fourth republic, promised again to clean up corruption and indiscipline in the Country. A promise which they all made, and eventually failed. If they had fulfilled their promises, Nigerians wouldn’t have been so eager to return to civilian rule. Yet, Nigerians still believe in the promises of these retired military Generals.

My panacea to this Nigerian illness, is the full implementation of Plato’s Ideal State, where Philosopher kings are to rule, Auxiliary soldiers (retired and serving military Generals) are to  protect the State, and the Artisans (civil servants) are to effectively carry out their societal duties. I’ll also propose that a well-structured leadership Academy, should be established (if it hasn’t been established before, or taken seriously). This leadership Academy, will admit only Presidential, Governorship and Senatorial Aspirants. They will be trained in leadership skills by foreign and local Tutors, and when it is time for elections, only students (Presidential, Governorship and Senatorial Aspirants) who graduated from this leadership Academy, will be allowed to contest for certain leadership roles in Nigeria. Of course, the current age limit for these leadership Aspirants, which is 30years, also apply to this leadership Academy, as regards its admission.

Hence, with these little and drastic reforms, Nigeria can eventually eradicate corruption from Its pouch, by sending the Army back to the Barracks, making sure that they remain there and discharge their protective duties effectively.


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  1. I believe the apathy of those who are intellectuals and have the technical know how to rule this nation is one of the reasons for our backwardness. Transition to civilian rule after each military coup has always been championed by former military men who have the wherewithal to play the ‘power game’ with their erstwhile colleagues. This has put us in a peonage system where we have to move around in circles with the same set of ”leaders”who have entrenched themselves into the system and have fine tuned it to favour them year after yearGiwa’s assertion is right to an extent.

  2. *clapping* The soldiers never returned to the barracks. I can’t believe I haven’t seen the ‘soldiers’ part before now. You raised a fine point here.

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