Nigeria Table of Contents
Gowon's influence depended upon his position as chairman of the Supreme Military Council, which had come into existence in March 1967. The council included top-ranking staff officers, service and police heads, state military governors, and the civilian administrator of the East Central State. Gowon also chaired the Federal Executive Council, the cabinet of ministers composed of military officers and civilian technocrats. The regime ruled by decree, although the concurrence of state military governors was sought before decrees were issued.
In October 1970, Gowon announced his intention to stay in power until 1976, which was set as the target year for completion of the military's political program and the return to an elected civilian government. Gowon outlined a nine-point program that would enable the military to relinquish control. Included in the package were reorganization of the armed forces; implementation of a national economic development plan, including reconstruction of war damaged areas, eradication of corruption; establishment of more states; adoption of a new constitution; introduction of a formula for allocating revenue; completion of a national census; organization of national political parties; and elections at federal and state levels. Criticism of the six-year plan was widespread because the agenda was so broad. Many Nigerians feared that the military planned to retain power indefinitely. The reaction of civilian politicians was particularly negative. Muslim traditionalists also expressed concerns that military rule, with its modernizing tendencies, would erode the authority of the emirates.
Data as of June 1991