The military has a structure which distinguishes it from other groups in the political system and this distinctiveness of the military may lead one to expect that the military can intervene more frequently in government than it does.
The structural characteristics of the military raise the question of what prevents direct military intervention, rather than the question of why it happens at all.
The characteristics of the military may be summarized as follows:
The military has a hierarchical and centralized structure. Orders flow from the top down and, as such, the military institution places much emphasis on rapid communication. In short, the military has a command structure.
The military places a high premium on discipline and obedience. Officers and men of the armed forces have to obey and carry out the orders and instructions of higher commands even where they disagree with the orders. Discretion does not come in here. It is important to note here that obedience is to the rank and not to the individual who holds that rank. In this sense, the military is similar to Weber’s ideal bureaucracy.
To a large extent, the military tends to separate itself from the wider society. As such, military officers live in separate barracks, wear distinctive uniforms and new recruits are indoctrinated about the history and traditions of the force. This leads to a pride in that tradition and a distinct espirit de corps. For example, most of the first military barracks in Nigeria were originally situated outside the towns and cities, though the rapid expansion of these towns has changed the situation.
Professionalism is another distinctive structural characteristic of the military. Thus, right from the beginning, new recruits are exposed to a different type of education and training. As a result military officers acquire values which tend to distinguish them from the rest of society in a way that is not true of other comparable groups such as the police or boy’ a scout.
5. The military monopolizes and controls the chief instruments of violence, in the political system.
These inherent characteristics of the military may tend to portray the institution as a conservative one but this view may not be correct, as there are several examples of military interventions either to support the existing order or to introduce radical reforms.
The military coup that brought Flight Lieutenant John Jerry Rawlings, self-professed socialist, to power in Ghana on June 4, 1979, for example, has radically transformed the Ghanaian society. For example corrupt pratices may still exist but public affairs realise that the law will take its course.
On the other hand, most of the military coups in Nigeria have tended to support or justify the existing social order.
The significance of these characteristics of the military lies in the fact that “they may lead to the assumption that in some way the military is above the sectional vested interest conflicts in the political process, and that the military is the embodiment of the national interest, albeit an authoritarian, disciplined conception of the national interest”.
The Structure of Military Government In Nigeria
Since the military is a hierarchical organization, a military government too is hierarchical and centralized in nature.
The question is: how does this organisational structure of the military affect its government? The answers are not far-fetched. The structure of the military affects the power relations between the center and the states and the administration of the states by military governors.
The main organs of military governments in Nigeria included the following:
Supreme Military Council (SMC)
The first constitutional amendments made by the first military government in 1966 vested the Federal Military Government with power to make laws for Nigeria with respect to any matter.
Indeed, Decree No. 1 of 1966even abolished the federal arrangement and introduced a unitary system which conformed to the centralized command structure of the military Although the decree was later abrogated by the Yakubu Gowon government yet the military government undoubtedly remained unitary.
The Supreme Military Council was vested with power to make laws for the country.
The Head of State and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces headed the Supreme Military Council (SMC). The Head of State was usually the most senior military officer. If he was not the most senior officer at the time of the coup, he would be quickly promoted to a rank that would correspond to his position in government.
This was the basis for the promotion of Yakubu Gowon from Lieutenant Colonel to Major General after the July 1966military coup and the elevation of Murtala Muhammed from Brigadier to General after his seizure of power in July 1975.
There is usually a high turnover in the military when senior officers are superceded or supplanted by their former subordinates.
The Supreme Militaly Council, later re-designated by the Ibrahim Babangida Administration as the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) and, by SaniAbacharegime, as the ProvisionalRuling Council (PRC) was the supreme law-making body in the country.
The Supreme Military Council was responsible for the appointment of state military governors who operated under the authority of he Head of State.
Thus, the Supreme Military Council (or AFRC or PRC) was the highest decision-making organ in the country. The membership of this body usually included the Head of State(Chairman), the Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters (later redesignated as Chief of General Staff) who was the equivalent of the Vice-president, the Service Chiefs (i.e. the heads of the Army, Navy and Air Force), the Inspector General of Police, Divisional Commanders (or equivalent) in the Army, Navy and Air Force) and a few other top military officers.
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice and the Secretary to the Government were also members of the Supreme Military Council.
Composition of Supreme Miliaty Council In 1977
The Supreme Military Council in 1977 comprised the following:
Lt. General Olusegun Obasanjo, Head of State and Commander-in Chief of the Armed Forces;
Brigadier Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters;
Lt. General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, Chief of Army Staff;
Rear Admiral Michael Ayinde Adelanwa, Chief of Naval Staff;
Air Commodore John Yisa Doko, Chief of Air Staff;
Alhaji Maigari D. Yusufu, Inspector-General of Police;
Major General Julius Alani Akinrinade, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 1st Division, Nigerian Army;
Major General Martin Adamu, G.O.C. 2nd Division, Nigerian Army;
Major General Mohammed Inua Wushishi, G.O.C. 4th Division, Nigerian Army;
Major General James J. Oluleye, Commissioner for Establishments;
Brigadier Joseph Nanven Garba, Commissioner for External Affairs;
Colonel Muhammed Buhari, Commissioner for Petroleum and Energy;
Colonel Ibrahim Babangida, Nigerian Army;
Wing Commander Muktar Muhammed, Commissioner for Housing, Urban Development and Environment;
Bridadier A. Mohammed, Nigerian Army;
Wing Commander I. Alfa, Nigerian Air Force;
Malam Adamu Suleman, Deputy Inspector-General of Police;
Colonel Olaseinde Aduloju, Inspector of Signals (Army);
Mr. Buba Fika, Nigeria Police;
Major-General G. S. Jallo, Commandant of the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna.
Commodore V.L. Oduwaiye, Nigerian Navy;
Lt. Commander O.E. Ukiwe, Nigerian Navy (Nigeria Year Book, 1977-78).
Appointment to the Supreme Military Council was presumably based on merit and seniority. Colonel Ibrahim Babangida, for example, was made a member of the SMC largely because of his role in dislodging Colonel Dimka and other coup plotters from the premises of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) during the February 13, 1976 coup.
Another member of the SMC, Major General-JosephGarba, was the Commander to the Brigade of Guards in the last days of Gowon’s regime and he announced the July 29, 1975 coup.
National Executive Council (NEC)
The National Executive Council comprised ministers who included a few top military officers and some civilian. It was the policymaking and implementationorgan of government. The ministers in the National Executive Council assisted in the implementation of government policies in their respective ministries. They also assisted in policy formulation.
The Head of State was the chairman of the council. The civilian members of the Council usually included the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and the Secretary to the Federal Government. The National Executive Council was inferior to the Supreme Military Council.
The Council of States
Another important organ of military administration was the National Council of States. The Council was established by Government in 1975. The body comprised the Head of State(Chairman), Chief of Staff Supreme Headquarters and State military governors.
The council was a coordinating institution and it advised the Federal Military Government on matters affecting the country. It was an advisory body.