In Nigeria, the transition to civil rule programme has usually followed a predictable pattern. And the basic components of the transition programmes usually include the following:
Announcement of Transitional Programme
Setting up of Constitution Drafting Committee
Establishment of the Constituent Assembly
Promulgation of the Constitution Elections
Swearing-in of Elected Officials and Hand-over of Power
#1 – Announcement of Transitional Programme
The military government usually announced a transition programme, which was billed to terminate on a given date. All Nigerian military governments, except the Aguiyi Ironsi and Muhammadu Buhari regimes, had a transition programme and a terminal date.
But the Babangidatransition programme was shifted four times from the original terminal date of October 1990 to January 1992, to January 1993 and to August 27, 1993 and so on.
#2 – Setting up of Constitution Drafting Committee
The second stage of the transition programme was usually the establishment of a Constitution Drafting Committee. The composition and methods of election or appointment of members of the committee were determined by the government. The committee was usually given about one year to prepare the draft constitution.
#3 – Establishment of the Constituent Assembly
The Constituent Assembly was partly nominated and partly elected. The body would normally debate the draft constitution and make recommendation to the government.
#4 – Promulgation of the Constitution
The highest decision-making body of the military government (SMC or AFRC or PRC) considered the draft constitution and the recommendations of the Constituent Assembly. It could make adjustment or amendment where deemed fit. The constitution was then promulgated.
#5 – Elections
The local government, State Houses of Assembly, National Assembly, gubernatorial and presidential elections were usually held on dates fixed by the government. The order of election varied from government to government.
In the 1979 elections that ushered in the Second Republic, the lower level elections were held before the presidential elections but the Shagari government started with the presidential election in 1983. The Babangida Administration and the Abdusalam Government followed the order of the 1979 elections.
#6 – Swearing-in of Elected Officials and Hand-over of Power
The last stage in the transition process was usually the swearing-in of the ejected political leaders and the formal handover of power to the new government.
Unfortunately, these processes were seldom followed in the transition process. The Gowon government announced a tansition-to-civil-rule programme in 1970 but in 1974 it declared that the terminal date of 1976 was no longer realistic.
The government was booted out of office in a military coup one year later. Its successor, the Murtala / Obasanjo military government announced a four year-transition programme in October 1975 and implemented it faithfully despite the assassination of GeneralMurtala Mohammed in the Dimka coup of February 13, 1976.
The government handed over power to the civilian government on 1st October, 1979.
As said before, the shortlived Muhammad Buharimilitary government which overthrew the civilian government of Alhaji ShehuShagari on 31st December, 1983 did not have the time to announce a transition programme before it was overthrown in a palace coup led by the then Chief of Army Staff, GeneralIbrahim Babangida.
GeneralIbrahim Badamosi Babangida who took over in a palace coup On 27th August, 1985 capitalized on the situation and quickly announced a transition propamme in 1986.
Originally, power was to return to civilian, in 1990 but the terminal date was shifted several times before the General was fumed to resign on 27th August, 1993 without achieving the objectives of the programme.
Three months after General IbrahimBabangida resigned as Head of State and handed power over to an Interim National Government – Chief “Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan“, another military coup led by GeneralSani Abacha sacked the InterimNational Government hurriedly put in place by the Babangida regime.
The transition of GeneralSanni Abacha was designed to produce an Abacha civilian government although the government never admitted this.
The government of General Abdusalam Abubakar which replaced the Abacha regime on 9th June, 1998 was therefore a child of circumstance. It announced a rather short transition programme which led to the inauguration of the government of President OlusegunObasanjo on 29th May, 1999.