1.1 Background to the Study

The coming into power of Major General Mohammed Buhari in 1983 marked the end of second republic civilian regime and the beginning of the march towards the third republic. The new head of administration enunciated a ten point agenda programme (Buhari, 1984), which unfortunately did not include the question of return to civil rule. He believed that the major problem that Nigeria had was how to revive the economy of the country, ensure discipline at home and respect abroad (Sunday Times, 1984: 11). This created an impression that the transition to democracy was not a priority issue to Buhari administration. This led to lack of popular support for the Buhari administration and consequent condemnation of the head of state who was overthrown in August 1985 (Olagunju et. al 1993).

The August 27, 1985 coup which was premised on economic and political reforms brought Major Gen. Ibrahim Babangida to power. There was from the beginning, a disguised commitment to military disengagement and to the required economic, political and socio-cultural reforms which are vital to the creation of a viable environment for re-democratization on Nigeria. However, the military disengagement or transition timetable as well as content and trajectories of the reforms were vague, which made them subject of robust debate within the Gen. Babangida administration. Within the first 100 days, Gen. Babangida embarked on what looked like a meaningful political and economic consolidation. The period between September 1985 and January 1986 was significant in the foundation of the third republic as at starkly and poignantly showed (Olagunju, etal, 1993: 88). To further strengthen the march to democratic governance, the administration established some socio-political infrastructures, such as Center for Democratic studies (CDC) and Mass Mobilization for Social Justice and Economic Recovery (MAMSER), as the administration viewed public mobilization as a vital process in the actualization of democratic governance. The Constituent Assembly and Constitution Drafting Committee were also engaged in the process.

In the process of political transition under Gen. Babangida administration, lots of uncertainties were revealed. Prominent among this was the issue of terminal date of military rule, which was not explicitly clear in the transition calendar. The programme was staggered between 1987 and 1992, which attracted series of conflicts in its actualization. According to Olagunju, et al. (1993) the political Bureau contained two proposed conflicting time tables of major events and land marks in the transition. A major departure from the original time-table  irrespective of the various shifts and changes was the constitutions of the national assembly without an executive president for the country. This led to the apogee of political administration in Nigeria being diarchical, with a military Head of State presiding over a country with democratically constituted national and state assemblies. Even though some notable Nigerians such as Azikiwe (1984) proposed the diarchy Thesis as the panacea for a stable and  non-military incursion into the body polity of the nation, the transitional programme did not make any provision for such


1.2 Statement of the Problem

Major-General Muhammadu Buhari rose to become Nigeria‟s head of state and Commander-in- Chief from December 31, 1983, and his government ended August 27, 1985. He became head of state as a result of military coup d‟état which deposed civilian president Shehu Shagari. The military accused the civilian authorities of mismanaging the economy, corruption, civil disorder and uncertainty in which the nation found itself under the leadership of the former civilian government. General Buhari government focused on fighting corruption especially those committed by former government and businessmen with a link to government, as a result of the corruption drive over 500 officials of government, politicians, and people in business were thrown into prisons and tried to the military tribunal‟s setup. In his inaugural speech, General Buharistated:“to put an end to the serious economic predicament and the serious crisis of confidence now afflicting our nation”. Akinboye, S.O., (2005). With the start of its administration, the Buhari administration prided itself as an offshoot of Murtala/Obasanjo government, it hereafter built it foreign policy after that of the previous military regime. In one case, in following suits of Murtala/Obasanjo, which recognised MPLA in Angola, the Buhari regime recognised Polisario government in Western Sahara despite opposition from fellow African states. The regime also re-launched commitment to the liberation of South Africa from the apartheid regime Abegunrin, O. (2003. The key features of the General Muhammadu Buhari foreign policy wereits relations with Nigeria ECOWAS neighbours, Nigeria-Africa relations and a diplomaticface-off between Nigeria-Britain.

1.3 Aims and Objectives of the Study


Based on the pertinent questions set to be addressed in this paper, the main objective therefore is a comparative study of Major General  Muhammadu Buhari1983-1985 And General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida 1985-1993 Military regime.

1.4 Significant Of  The  Study

At the theoretical level therefore, this study promises to be a rich contribution to the existing pool of knowledge on the nexus between civilian and military regime. This effort is particularly relevant in that even though a number of theoretical and empirical studies on military regime exist, there is as yet a dearth of empirical studies on the comparative study of Major General  Muhammadu Buhari1983-1985 And General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida 1985-1993 Military regime.

The study will therefore be a useful resource for scholars, students and sundry researchers interested in further exploring this area.

At the practical level, the study will be of paramount importance to policy makers of developing countries, especially in Nigeria as it provides a practical guide for the understanding of the seeming contradiction between the variables: military regime

1.5 Scope of the Study

This study is centered on  the comparative study of Major General  Muhammadu Buhari 1983-1985 And General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida 1985-1993. The study were however restricted the Military juntas of Buhari and IBB.

1.6 Research Questions

  • How does  Nigerian Foreign policy looks like during the military juntas of Major General  Muhammadu And General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida
  • Does Mohammadu Buhari ‘s War against Indiscipline during the military regime a success or failure?

1.7 Operational Definition Of Terms


Juntas; a military group that rules a country after taking power by force.

Transition: this is the change of government, from civilian to military regime,viz-versa


Coup: a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government.

Foreign policy : a government’s strategy in dealing with other nations.

1.8 Theoretical  Framework

The work adopts  role theory as guide to the study. The role theory is derived from the concept of role as used by psychologists and anthropologists in distinguishing individual or group role perceptions and actual performance in any social gathering. This could be family, peer group, religious group, workplace, community, market and in this case, the political groups (Folarin, 2010:89).  According to Biddle (1986:68), role theory concerns one of the most important characteristics of social behavior – the fact that human beings behave in ways that are different and predictable depending on their respective social identities and the situation. He argued that role theory explains roles by presuming that persons are members of social positions and hold expectations for their own behaviours and those of other persons.

Again, Folarin (2010:93) argued that role theorists see role theory as one of the most compelling instruments bridging individual behaviour and social structure. According to him, roles, which are in part dictated by social structure and in part by social interactions, guide the behaviour of the group or individual. He concluded that, the group, in turn, influences the norms, expectations, and behaviours associated with roles. In other words, the understanding is reciprocal and didactic. It is in this sense that, the adoption of role theory to interpret the foreign policy behaviours of the Nigerian state, represented by different actors with different ideological and political orientations explain the role confusions and dissonance that have become the hallmark in the conception, formulation and implementation of the country’s foreign policy. A logical outcome of these behavioural patterns explain Nigeria’s national and international image dilemma.

1.9 Literature Review

The most populous country on the African continent, the Nigerian experience with democracy has been paradoxical and ambiguous (Diamond, 1995). Although the military controlled the government for twenty-four of the first thirty-four years of independence, Nigeria has never accepted indefinite authoritarian rule, and no military rule that has not committed itself to a transition to democracy has been able to survive. Through ten national government, ix successful military coups, a civil war, and a dizzying economic boom followed by a crushing depression – not to mention repeated assaults by military regimes on human rights and associational life Nigerians have maintained a passionate commitment to personal freedom and political participation.

The various military regimes, in Nigeria have embarked on lasting reforms that have transformed Nigeria polity, hence, their impacts are seen in political and economic spheres (Aliu, 2000). The impacts of military rule in Nigeria is seen in political and economic lives. These have both positive and negative effects, politically the military has contributed immensely to the development of Nigeria through state and local government creation exercise, constitutional engineering and enunciation of transitional programmes. The military regimes that came to power had in their various ways contributed to the realization of the unity in Nigeria, on the other hand, military regimes had contributed to democratic instability and human right abuse in the country.

On the economic scene, the contributions of military rule is also felt, whether positive or negative. The military economic contributions and policies formulation and implementation for instance, the Nigeria Enterprises promotion Decree of 1972/1977 or the indigenization policy was formulated by the military rule. Additionally, the introduction of Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) by Babangida regime was aimed at revamping nation’s economy. Some other economy policies of successive military regimes in Nigeria are the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) Directorate of Food, Roads and Rural Infrastructures (DFRRI). Operation Feed the Nation (OFN) and so on.



This paper utilises secondary sources of data for the research; this includes journals, relevant books, periodicals, newspapers reports, internet sources, government releases, and pronouncement.

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