APPRAISES THE ROLE OF THE MILITARY IN THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT OF NIGERIA
Nigeria chequered history is characterized by prolonged years of military regimes as opposed to democratic government. Out of the country’s 54 years of independence, 29 have been spent under military regimes as against 25 years under civilian governments (Eminue; 2006). It should however be noted that the country over the years, has had to grapple with the daunting task of development. Unfortunately various human development indexes still rank Nigeria among the poorest countries of the world in terms of socio-economic development (Eshikena; 2012). Nonetheless, Eminue (2003) and Adesina (1999), observed that one major justification for past military intervention in governance is the mismanagement of the country’s resources by civilian governments which in turn has led to poor socio-economic development of the citizenry, while the military described themselves as “Corrective regimes” (Eshikena, 2012). This is done as a way of legitimizing their stay in power.
A critical look at the programmes and policies of successive military regimes in Nigeria shows that they have made varying impact on the nation’s socio-economic development. It is therefore pertinent to assess the impact of the military in the socio-economic development of Nigeria, hence, this appraisal.
We shall define the following concept as they relate to this study.
The Military: The military is generally and popularly conceived as the “totality of the armed forces found the world over, which include the army, navy, air force and to some extent the police” (Oyediran, 1996).
Military Regime: Eshikena (2012), defines military regime as a government led by military leaders. But it is generally regarded as an aberration of governance and a negation of political development.
Eminue (2006), sees military regime as governance dominated by military leaders. This is in line with Joseph (1991) view, that it is when the military expand their barracks’ boundaries to the governance boundaries. Elaigwu (2000), on the other hand argues that the military has become a political power contestant in Nigeria’s power equation,that must be “de-politicized”. This is to say that the military is a politicized institution, indulging more in governance than their conventional role in Nigeria.
Ekele (2011) defines socio-economic development as an inter face of social and economic development of people, with emphasis on human capital development, poverty alleviation, employment generation and general economic development.
WiseGeek (2014) conceptualizes socio-economic development as a process that seeks to highlight the social and economic needs of the people, in more practical and utilitarian terms, as well as on a long run. WiseGeek argues further that the general idea of socio-economic development is on improved standard of living, healthy economy capable of sustaining the population.
Socio-economic Development Hypothesis: Samuel Finer’s (1981) socio-economic Development hypothesis posits that “the propensity for military intervention is likely to increase with increased social mobilization, with grave implication on socio economic development. In his contribution, Karl Deutsch (1961) argues, the social mobilization entails “old social, economic and psychological commitments which are eroded or broken and people available for new patterns of socialization and behaviour”.
The social mobilization is said to generate pressures which cannot be sustained and the needs that can barely be met, as the “revolution of rising expectation” results to revolution of increasing frustrations and unfulfilled expectations. This offers a measure of explanation to some reasons given by the military for intervening in politics. In contradiction, the failure to handle the social mobilization properly by the military also led to agitations for their exit from power (Eminue, 2006).
The challenge of socio-economic development of the country has been seriously undermined by successive military regimes as against the high hopes of Nigerians at the dawn of independence. The drawbacks in an attempt to meet the high expectations, in terms of socio-economic development of the country has often led to reoccurring social mobilization for the military to exit power.