Military rule commenced in Nigeria on January 15, 1966 when a military coup d'e-tat led by an army Major, Chukwuma Nzeogwu, overthrew the government of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa. It stretched through the short-lived regime of Major-General J. T. U. Aguiyi-lronsi (1966), the regime of Lt. Colonel (later General) Yakubu Gowon (1966 - 1975) which also witnessed the Nigerian Civil War (1966 - 1970) and the regimes of Brigadier (later General) Murtala Mohammed (1975 -1976) and Lt. General Olusegun Obasanjo (later General) (1976 - 1979).
The civilian administration that followed under President Shehu Shagari (1979 - 1983) was overthrown by a military coup on December 31, 1983.
Thereafter, the successive military regimes were headed by Major-General Mohammadu Buhari (1983 - 1985), Major-General (later General) lbrahim Badamasi Babangida (1985 - 1993), General Sani Abacha (1993 - 1998), and General Abdulsalami Abubakar (1998 - 1999). In between the Babangida and Abacha regimes, there was a brief civilian Interim National Government (ING) installed by Babangida and headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan (August - November, 1993). Since May 29, 1999, when President Olusegun Obasanjo, succeeded Abubakar, Nigeria has been ruled by a civilian regime. Thus, from Nigeria's Independence to December 1999, civilians ruled from 1960 - 1966, 1979 - 1983, August to November 1993, and since May 1999, making a total of approximately ten years. In contrast, by May 1999, the military had ruled Nigeria for approximately thirty years.
This Module discusses the military era in Nigeria, highlighting the major political, economic, social and cultural developments that occurred during military rule, the cause, problems, means and degree of these developments and of Nigeria's integration as a sovereign nation; Nigeria's achievements and failures under the military; the nature and impact of military rule on the Nigerian polity; and Nigeria's prospects as a virile, prosperous and united nation in the 21st Century.