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Nigeria Table of Contents


Attitudes Toward the Military

Attitudes toward the military in Nigeria were ambivalent. On the one hand, it was well regarded. Despite repeated interventions, the military as an institution has remained intact and not succumbed to radicalization; it has ruled firmly and, with a few notable exceptions, humanely; and it has made the restoration of stable civilian rule a high priority. The repeated turnovers among the generals occasioned by coups and intraregime power realignments accelerated upward mobility for capable officers and attracted high-quality volunteers. In addition, the political and managerial experience acquired by senior officers in government posts during long periods of military rule offered exceptional and lucrative postservice business opportunities. These "up or out" conditions created what critics dubbed a "baby general" boom.

On the other hand, Nigeria's highly charged and pluralistic political culture afforded ample latitude to criticize the military, although with some inhibitions during periods of military rule. Nigerian scholar Ikenna Nzimiro decried the "military psychosis" that beset Nigeria and the class nature of the military as part of a privileged ruling class. In his view, this military oligarchy rewarded itself with sharply increased but socially unproductive military spending. Other human rights advocacy groups and prominent individuals often protested the military regime's incompetence and misuse of power (see Human Rights , this ch.). A July 1990 poll conducted by the Ministry of Information found widespread public dislike of coups and military regimes.

Data as of June 1991