Politics and Economic Development in Nigeria

By Tom Forrest | Go to book overview

6
The Babangida Regime

The Exercise of Power

General Ibrahim Babangida had considerable knowledge and experience of Nigerian government and a strong following within the army. 1 He was a member of the Supreme Military Council under the Mohammed- Obasanjo and Buhari governments. During the Second Republic, he had been responsible for Operations and Military Planning. He had been involved in the 1975 and 1984 military coups and had personally confronted Lt-Colonel Bukar Dimka after the assassination of Murtala Mohammed. At that time, he was commander of the new Armoured Corps Division and was involved in the modernisation and equipping of the army.


Consultation and Debate

In order to increase the representation of various organisations in the army and include relatively junior officers who had participated in the coup, the size of the SMC was increased from eighteen to twenty-eight members, and it was renamed the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC). In reaction to the concentration of power wielded by the former chief of staff, Supreme Headquarters, the functions of this post were split in two, with the military role transferred to Minister of Defence Lt-General Domkat Bali, who became chairman of the newly created Joint Chiefs of Staff. He remained in this post until the end of 1989, when the president took over the defence portfolio in a controversial reshuffle. A chief of general staff was appointed whose functions were restricted to the political administration of the country. To broaden participation of the military in national affairs an Armed Services Consultative Assembly was set up in 1989.

None of the three major ethno-linguistic groups in the country could claim any kind of dominance in the makeup of the AFRC. The composition of the council shifted power away from the Hausa-Fulani (two members) towards the northern minorities. When account is taken of all three ruling bodies ( AFRC, National Council of Ministers, and National Council

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