Politics and Economic Development in Nigeria

By Tom Forrest | Go to book overview

5
The Return of the Military: The Buhari Regime

Order and Discipline

The military elite that took power, and their allies in the Kaduna mafia, were supporters of the National Party of Nigeria for most of its life. The stated aims of the regime were identical with those of the second Shagari administration. 1 The quarrel with the politicians was not with their policies but with their failure to control the economy and the absence of public accountability.

The coup itself was poorly organised and coordinated, but as it had general support within the army and populace at large, this did not affect the outcome. One feature of the coup was the inability of the new regime to detain top party officials and ministers of the NPN, even though they were wanted persons. Among those who left the country were Umaru Dikko, Richard Akinjide ( attorney general), Chief A.M.A. Akinloye ( NPN chairman), Joseph Wayas ( Senate president), Uba Ahmed (NPN national secretary), Isiyaku Ibrahim (NPN patron), and several ministers. The nonarrest of these politicians, who were able to scatter to various Western capitals, raised the suspicion that the regime was content to see them go. Yet it may be more accurate to say that the slack organisation of the coup was responsible for their not being arrested.

The prime aim of the regime was to improve the economy and win the confidence of trading partners, so that international credit could be restored. Until that time, political discussion and debate would have to wait, and the emphasis would be on domestic austerity and bringing order and discipline to Nigerian society. Structurally, the leadership adhered to the institutional setup of the Obasanjo period with a Supreme Military Council, a National Council of States, a Federal Executive Council and a chief of staff, Supreme Headquarters. The head of state, Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, a Katsinawa, had been director of supply and transport in the 1970s. He was appointed military governor of North Eastern state to supervise its division into three separate states and was then re-

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