7 September 2004

Nigeria: The Military in Nigeria's Administrative Development


Lagos — THIS discourse will be commenced by first acknowledging that both the military and the politicians have all contributed in one way or the other to develop Nigeria since the end of the nation's colonial experience. This is to redress the hiccups in the country's development and administration. However, the scope of this political discourse is not to dwell on the conceptual definition of "development" or "administration." It is pertinent to note here, however, that to mark a nation's development, there must be conspicuous advancement in the areas of social, economic and political spheres without any parochial and selfish distortion that will make shallow this realism.

Without digressing much from the scope of this discourse, it is important for us to know what the term "development administration" is all about. According to Weidner (a western scholar), "development administration is the molding of administrative organisastions to effect change in social, economic, political and administrative spheres." This is simply, effort aimed at empowering government bureaucratic organisations and agencies or boards to help bring the desired developmental needs of the people. The question one may ask is: how can you assess the performance of government parastatals and agencies or commissions like NEPA, NITEL, Water Board, NDDC (Niger Delta Developmental Commission), Federal Inland Revenue Authority, Federal Character Commission, Ministry of Works, the INEC, et cetera, in bringing the developmental needs of Nigerians in the areas of politics and socio-economic spheres of the nation? This is because government policies and programmes are implemented by them and their likes, but the manner for the implementation of these policies and programmes is outrageous due to unmitigated corruption among officials of government, inexperience, act of nepotism exhibited in some of the governments' appointments or the over-influence exercised by some selfish politicians or military officials over these government parastatals, commissions or boards and so forth.

If we take a look at the Military's achievements in Nigeria's administrative development,' we will recall that since independence in 1960, both the military and civilian administrations have been battling on how to make necessary adaptations to the conventional administrative model of the former colonialists so as to develop Nigeria. This is because the philosophy of the colonial conventional administration in Nigeria was mainly aimed at the emasculation of Nigeria's wealth and not to develop the country. This is the case since basic institutions and infrastructures which could necessitate conspicuous development in Nigeria were seriously lacking under our colonial administration. However, the goals of any state are realized through the instrumentality of state bureaucacies or agencies. This is the charge of a well disciplined, oriented, trained and motivated public administration with a well procured personnel.

This discourse will lack the salt without looking at the contributions or achievements of the military to development administration in Nigeria critically.

The military has contributed in so many ways to bring development in the administration of Nigeria.

This is necessitated through some policies, strategies and programmes. For instance, during the regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo (1976-79), the programme, OFN (Operation Feed the Nation) was put in place to ensure sufficiency in food production so as to feed Nigeria's population and solve her basic food need. The UPE (Universal Primary Education) programme was also put in place to attend to the people's desire for education. Industries like the Aluminium Smelting Company, Ikot-Abasi, Akwa Ibom, Peugeot Automobile in Kaduna, Volkswagen product in Lagos, Ajaokuta Power Steel etc. were built by the military to attain the industrial need of the people. According to the former Head of State, General Mohammadu Buhari, "If you examine the progress made by both parastatals from 1976 to 1979, that was when the two refineries, Warri and Kaduna were built. That was when over 3,200 land pipes were laid. That was when 20 depots were built; when the blue print of the petrochemical company was adopted. These took place within three and half years. That was unprecedented. And if you go through NEPA records too, you would be amazed. Even successive governments could not maintain the infrastructure up till today. I think then, people were allowed to work," The News vol. 21, No 24, 15 December, 2003, p. 19). Cottage industries were also set up to process some agricultural raw materials for the people as an economic strategy. FESTAC (Festival of Arts and Culture) was also organised in 1977 by Obasanjo's military regime to showcase Africa's rich culture. The policy of indigenisation was also introduced to give Nigerians hand in managing their firms and economy themselves instead of the colonialists. This is to bring the economy under the control of the whites to the Nigerian people. Under the military regime of Buhari/Idiagbon, WAI (War Against Indiscipline) was set to ensure good sanitation of Nigeria's environment socially and effort was intensified to fight indiscipline and corruption sincerely with greater determination among the officials of government then. Under IBB (Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida)-led military regime which came up in August 1985, SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme) was introduced as a political mechanism for the diversification of the economy, restructuring and building self-reliant economy. With SAP, Nigerians developed maintenance culture.

Programmes like the NDE (National Directorate of Employment) was put in place to empower the unemployed youths economically and to fight the risk of unemployment. MAMSER (Mass Mobilisation for Social and Economic Self-Recovery), DFRRI (Directorate for Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructure) etc. were some of the strategic instruments of SAP adopted to fight for economic self-sustenance and rural development. The Federal Character Commission was also objectively established among other things to ensure that Nigerians, no matter where they come from, have sense of belonging in the running of government due to much cries of marginalisation. Under some military regimes in Nigeria, more states and local governments were created to enhance the political articipation of the people and also facilitate development. Security strategy was also beefed-up. Heavy communication gadgets like the IBB Eastern Gateway were also built to enhance communication flow. Many roads were constructed or rehabilitated to ease transportation difficulties. PTF (Petroleum Trust Fund) was also established and charged with its special responsibility so as to facilitate development and rehabilitation of basic infrastructures. To mention, but a few of the achievements or contributions of the military in Nigeria's administrative development. The question my readers will answer is; has the civilian administrations in Nigeria taken the people to path of notable development in both areas of politics and socio-economic spheres to make the military well insulated from politics and for the peace, unity and stability of Nigeria? As we read on, we will be better educated on some of the things that cause the military to intervene in the politics of civil administration in Nigeria.

However, many schools of thought such as the 'Institutional School' (apolitical), Systemic-structural or the Diarchic schools of thought have either questioned the legitimacy of military involvement in the political life of the civil society or lend support for the assignment of special role to the military to play in politics since they, unlike the civilians are part of the political process structurally and a product of the dominant political culture. This is the opinion of the scholars of the structural-systemic school of thought. In the Diarchy school, people like Zik, S. G. Ikoku, Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo and his 'Cimilicy Theory', a Kenyan-born Mazrui or the late Oyi of Oyi, Dr. Chuba Okadigbo and his theory of 'militarise the civilians the civilianise the military, gave their own options of diarchy which allows for the combination of both the military and civilians, to participate in governance so that none of the two camps will feel injured. This is because, the politicians cannot play the political game with maturity, and according to the rule.

The question the reader may ask here, is; which of the opposing camps has demonstrated greater commitment, sincerity and genuine transparency in governance so as to take Nigeria to path of conspicuous national development in politics, social and economic spheres to the envy of the rest of the world? However, scholars of the institutional or apolitical school believe that the traditional and constitutional role of the military is 'security-tending' or the protection of lives and properties, territorial integrity and sovereignty of the nation. Thus, they see military rule as an aberration (unbecoming) and catastrophic hence their call for military insulation from politics. This catastrophic link with which the military is assessed fall under what I call 'the evils of military incursion' in Nigeria's development and administration as this discourse progresses.

The following could be identified as some of the reasons for military incursion in politics in Nigeria:

Corruption and insincerity of the politicians, lack of commitment by the politicians to pursue the fundamental objectives and directive principles of our nation's state policy, military's politicisation by the politicians, electoral malpractices like riggings, fake balloting etc., professionalization and knowledge of civilian literature in administration, egoism, infrastructure decay in the nation, poor standard of living, mass unemployment, civil-military insult, civil unrest like strikes, massive protests and demonstrations, due to bad policies, political alienation, ideological differences and ethnic bias leading to cliquism within the military formation etc.

- To be continued tomorrow

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