The January 15th coup in 1966 prompted the July 29th 1966 coup or what was tagged as the return match. The coup plotters in the July 29th scenario had viewed the January 15th coup as a sectional one; the Supreme Commander in the person of Aguiyi Ironsi was seen as not been decisive on prosecuting the January 15th boys. Likewise, the Unitary Decree was another pointer to the July coup, as it was wrongly perceived as an attempt to entrench Igbo domination. The coup was also to see to the secession of the Northern Region from Nigeria as even its beneficiary and Chief conspirator, Yakubu Gowon was to state in the speech announcing his emergence “that there was no basis for Nigerian unity. “
The Nigerian Civil war marked another epoch in our nation’s bloody history, the war which was fought by two sides wanting two entirely different things lasted for three years costing the Nigerian nation heavily in terms of lives and properties. The war had its scars as seen in the numerous massacres in Benin and Asaba as well as the unconventional strafing of civilian areas and buildings by Egyptian flown MIG’s. Measures such as the starvation policy of the Federal Government still leaves a sour taste in the mouths of people who witnessed and survived such a gory era, not to mention the twenty pounds policy that followed the surrender of the new republic. It is important to note that the three year Republic did not go down without a good fight, much embarrassing the Federal Government as well as its two super power sponsors in Great Britain and the then Soviet Union. Biafra for the period of time it existed defied all known military logic, trudging on until it made no sense to carry on the struggle. Till today, there are many who still seek its revival, a situation much helped by the lack of fairness and perceived marginalization towards NdiIgbo.
Reverting back to our long history of coups, the July 29th 1975 coup which ended Yakubu Gowan’s long occupancy of Dodan Barracks was to begin the process of national reinvigoration. The Gowon administration had by that point in time become complacent and had lost direction. It had misplaced the
much needed hopes of restoring the country back to democracy’s fold and had become massively corrupt and inefficient and just had to go.
Again, the coup of 1983 much distorted our romance with democracy, even though the Shagari Government which was the victim of the coup was largely the chief culprit for Its own overthrow. The Civilians of Second Republic it seemed had taken no lessons from the fall of the First Republic. Corruption was the order the day, indiscipline was rife and the economy fell from its towering heights into a recession. Even the election of 1983 which returned Shagari to power for a second term will rank as one of the most flawed elections in our history, all these justified the Buhari/ Idiagbon coup.
The 1985 coup that toppled Buhari remains also a key event that much shaped Nigeria. Buhari and his military sidekick Tunde Idiagbon had sought to salvage Nigeria, and had come down hard on the Nigerian people in a manner never witnessed before. It detained several Nigerians and executed a number of Nigerians involved in the drug business. It began the war on indiscipline, seeking to redeem the nation in the eyes of the world. The coup plotters majorly accused Buhari/ Idiagbon of betraying and discarding the aims of the 1983 coup.
The 1990 coup was another high current point in our nation’s history. The coup which is also known as the minorities coup because it was plotted, financed and carried out by officers who hailed from the minority areas of Nigeria attempted to shake the very foundation upon which this nation was raised upon. It sought for the excising of the then five core Northern states until it met conditions for its re-admission. Though the coup failed, it can be said that it much began the exposure of the numerous faultlines upon which our country has operated upon. It placed calls on the elite ruling class that things had to change, snowballing further into the raised consciousness of the minorities most especially the people of the Niger Delta.
Lastly on coups, the November 16 coup by Sani Abacha much ended the forward and backward dance that the nation had been engaged in following the emergence of the Interim National Government headed by Alex Shonekan. The ING which was a contraption cleverly installed by Ibrahim Babaginda following his infamous annulment of the June 12th 1993 presidential elections and his decision to step aside, failed to chart any course for the nation. repeatedly booed by Nigerians who insisted on Abiola’s mandate and lacking in legitimacy, it merely groped for a place to stand before it was toppled.
Away from coups, electioneering events in Nigeria have also influenced the course our nation has taken. This is quite simple since our nation’s democracy encourages a winner takes all approach. Likewise, the lack of democratic institutions as well as its spirit and culture has also done much harm.
Igboeli Arinze Napoleon is the Managing Director of Hawkeye Communications and Editor in Chief of realpoliticsnigeria.ng