The Queen supervised the transition process for sovereignty from colonial administration to independence, undertaken by the constitutional conferences. Nigeria would gain her independence on October 1, 1960, on a Parliamentary set up, which paved way for the Prime Minister to run the affairs of state on party platform based on majority rule. What was projected to lead the continent in its political process and the sound human capital to her credit, would be overwhelmed by widespread scandals of bribery and corruption, coupled by internal strife, and a loophole that gave the military every reason to usurp power in an array of power play within the juntas for nearly 30 years.
Meanwhile, the Pogrom of the Igbo would erupt upon assassination of Aguiyi Ironsi, in what had begun the junta, leading to the Biafran War and the 'Economic Blockade' orchestrated by Obafemi Awolowo, which desperately starved Biafran women and children to death in which the international community worried that an ethnic group was being wiped out, called for help to arrest the situation from around which British Prime Minister Harold Wilson and his genocidal allies had agreed it was justified for its position to be firm on Nigeria, even if it has to cost millions of lives..
In its take, following how the world had reacted to the Pogrom, Senator Edward Kennedy, in dinner with Nobel Laureate, Rene Cassin, at the International League for the Right of Man, at the New York Hilton Hotel, December 6, 1968, called for massive assistance to the desperately starved Biafran women and children urging President Lyndon Johnson to name a special representative to supervise the Biafran tragedy. Johnson did nothing.
Richard Nixon's White House did, and had been made known and, the worry had begun to show when the National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, sent an urgent memorandum to President Richard Nixon dated January 28, 1969, acknowledging an ongoing genocide, thus, demanding swift measures to save the children of Biafra. Kissinger writes;
"There are no exact numbers on the scale of the human tragedy gathering in Biafra. But all our sources do agree that more than a million people are likely to be in danger of starvation... There would be no question about evacuating the 5500 U.S. citizens or sacrificing the $300 million private investment on the Federal side if these stood in the way of relief. The heart of our dilemma, however, is that our instinctive moral concern and involvement with this tragedy cannot be separated from the political tangle."
The junta continues with its dictatorship upon armistice and end to the Biafran War with promises of transition to civilian rule which is often delayed while another junta stages a coup and refreshes its mandate with assurances a legitimate process would conduct free and fair elections and reinstate a democratic fabric to the republic.
A 2nd Republic is established, short-lived, and the junta wrestles power from the subdued civilians, again. A trend follows, and the "Army Arrangement" continued apace, from the lot of the Muhammadu Buhari murderous junta, to the Ibrahim Babaginda criminal mafia operations, and subsequently, the Sani Abacha death squad and reign of terror, in its final play, the ordinary civilian was brain dead, and would be confused, and would not know what democracy had meant, learning nothing at all from its first stage as the colonists left it, and thus begun the 4th Republic and a nation still run by the junta in continuity.
In what was widely thought to be a nation's coup culture, the "soldier go, soldier come," and business as usual kind of thing, on affairs of state run by the military, as its citizens never bothered, even though a population had been immuned, and all the bad stuff and bullying by the juntas that came along with it, getting used to pain, from constant whooping and ultimate hijack of the peoples mandate, which dealt the civilian structure a big blow.
Regardless of the "bloody civilian" slogan by a half-baked, bad military trained nihilists and hoodlums, which left an ugly mark on the civilian order, there were no qualms in dealing with the situation, and a population that had succumbed to dictatorship and, a lasting wound on the ordinary citizen that would be permanently disfigured, and a sustained military existence, henceforth.
But a noted few had resisted tyranny and the unreasonable nature of the juntas by way of their expression in music, art, writings, and other forms of activism, in which nothing could convince them a dance or dialogue with the military brass was a normal affair. The stages of the junta had been a nightmare, subduing the private citizen, who had been perpetually battered and silenced, losing all of its sanity and having no choice but being insane to adopt and applaud a military dictatorship with its high profile personnel part of governance that destroyed all aspects of civil liberties.
All the civilian personnel engaged in the Yakubu Gowon junta to the Abdulsalami Abubakar military regime, so-called transition to democracy, were all part of the conspiracy, finding it comfortable, working with the junta. In some cases, a resistance and challenge to the junta had ominous consequences drawn from the Olusegun Obasanjo panicking junta that closed down Chris Okolie's New Breed Magazine for stories the junta had thought threatened the military machines and a procedure not accepted in totalitarian regimes. Obasanjo's predecessor, Murtala Mohammed, however, was more brutal in his executions of military power. The drug addled, reckless tyrant, who all of a sudden, became a national hero, mercilessly dealt with the civilian structure in its administrative order, and sacked civil servants from public office with "immediate effect" on no prior notice. A spooky event, and funny enough, he was applauded and seen as the nation's champion for reform..
The military and the civilian structure are two different institutions with each assigned its specific roles. The military has no business in the affairs of state. But in Nigeria and elsewhere on the African continent, the junta and brigade of arms bumps into the people and wrestle power from them, in collaboration with their pick of civilians they have cowed into obeying the last orders and accept what is offered them without resistance. They are then set up as stooges, collecting fat checks from bogus accounts, fabricating manpower, embezzling money meant for infrastructure, bellyful but won't hesitate or complain, or decline to any requests to be part of draconian laws against the people, rather they find themselves enjoyably good, while the junta keeps up with decrees that silences the people in every aspect of life. They have become stationery puppets and would do anything the junta had asked to implement as the "bloody civilians" becomes their tool for any operation that spells anarchy and policed in the kind of the gestapo.
The draconian laws never changes or modified in consideration to the plight of a subdued population, battered beyond recognition to have lost every sense of purpose in basic human rights, the ultimate of free press in a democratic fabric and respecting the rule of law. That was never in existence; the junta had turned a sovereign nation into a banana republic. and controlled from the barrels of the gun. Shoot at sight was the method of operation in what they had seen as threat in their continued rule with brutality and underground killings.
Such was the situation of presumably a nation known for its enormous human capital and abundant natural resources, and in high expectations to be productive with its materials and operate effectively. It had been a case of sad reality. Nothing had worked with the junta running the affairs of state while citizens were treated like animals, ordered around like a zombie, and so disturbing no one knew when the nightmare would end to pave way for a sound democratic fabric, as in all organized societies, even when the juntas had promised over and over again, to end military rule and hand over power to civilians. It had been a coup culture, and each junta that wrestles power promises not to keep power for long until overthrown by another set of junta that keeps the same rules with added damning decrees, the draconian laws that prohibits free movement of people and total abuse of human rights.
As it would happen, we were driving, and poking around town in Lagos, on Sunday, October 19, 1986, on a fun-filled seeking evening to end a rusty week, the junta handling of state, and months of uncertainties getting used to the nations coup culture, while the DJs at the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, the FRCN, were at work spinning the tracks from albums that were the smash hits of the day, when the news break was brought in announcing the fatal killing of Newswatch founding member, Dele Giwa.
"Unbelievable, and it could not be true," I'd say, "because, I had talked to Austen Oghuma earlier in the day and no such thing popped up in our discussion," as we drove along the streets for hang outs, while the 1980s sensational theme vibrated from the airwaves. Oghuma was the staff writer, news reporter and researcher for Newswatch Magazine, and we always had met on Sundays for talks over lager at his Alagbon Towers residence in Ikoyi, and sometimes on a more engaging evening at the Ikoyi Hotel, on discussions about junta proclaimed Babaginda's "democratic regime," when the junta had made it known he was a democrat, a term the foreign press had adored, even when the declared "evil genius" had been on a murdering spree of its citizens, especially silencing the press, institutionalizing corruption and destroying every aspect of civil liberties.
Following the radio announcement and a prime time event of the brutal assassination of Dele Giwa, with a sophisticated letter bomb at his Ikeja residence, about a year and some fractions the junta Babangida had overthrown the Buhari-led junta on inexplicable events, Babaginda had blamed his predecessors of all kinds of problems that had worsened situations in the country, especially, on press freedom and free movement of peoples, and on Buhari's sidekick in the regime, with more authority, Tunde Idiagbon, who was then Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters, of the junta, he had blamed for using the arms of the military regime as his own personal tool when arguments had heated up between the rank and file, and leaders of the authoritarian government, and the kingpin responsible for the state's criminal mafia.
Babangida who had self acclaimed himself a democrat, had carried out underground killings of his military opponents and adversaries who disagreed with his dictatorship. He had gotten away with all kinds of offenses against the state including institutionalizing corruption. He was the "evil genius." He was the nation's "Niccolo Machiavelli." He was the "Maradona" of Nigerian politics, a nick name given to him by the Nigerian press for wizard dribbling of his friends and foe. He was the "Don" of every crime in the land using his military power to legitimize it. He conquered the soul of the gullible and vulnerable civilian population with the impetus to deal with his subjects summarily without resistance. He had locked up journalists without bringing charges before them. He had ransacked the offices of the National Security Organization, the NSO, removing his personal files for any implications to his brutal rule and killings, and drug trafficking, and other related abnormal behavior to human nature.
He dissolved the NSO upon that; making sure there were no tracks of any trace, and created his own watchdog and, death squad, with divisions, the State Security Service, SSS, to monitor every event with the civilian puppets he had appointed to discharge duties on his orders. He created fictitious and uncountable bank accounts with conduits that channeled stolen funds to foreign banks in which none could be traced and eventually lost, and attested by Obasanjo, urging Nigerians to prove where the funds can be located for prosecution of the "evil genius,"
He was everything bad in description. Not even a clue of who had murdered Giwa. All in all, he was free of charge and had the desire to run the country again in civilian outfit just like his former boss, Olusegun Obasanjo, had done in a cycle that would surface the present agbada wearing former junta, Buhari, and rerun of his murderous years, and clamp on the press.
Despite all the damages and havoc caused by the military, they remain in power, in its quasi-democracy, recreating itself of the past in typical military fashion which tells how stupid and confused Nigerians were when they gave Buhari their vote after the former junta's four attempts to fulfill his goal and agenda of what had been unfolding since he felt accomplished, and a second time around to deal with his subjects by reinstating dictatorship. To add more insult to dishonor, a blindfolded Nigerians reelected him, and now the same set of clowns, of a banana republic, are complaining of misrule by the former junta whose purpose was to complete his agenda and validate Islamic republic.
But it's quite clear, the overwhelming issue of a conquered population has been that of fear; the fear to pull the bull by the horn and take a radical step, taking back what belongs to them, giving its legislature ultimatum to cease and desist, effective immediately, a fabricated document put together by the juntas, and create its own document on a pattern that conforms to its standard as in all organized societies and effective democracies.
Buhari is now a nightmare. He resurrected himself. He declined to listen, and going by no rules that spells democracy. He has done it before, in army uniform, which gave him all the power he needed to make draconian laws, backpedaled, and execute them, on those targeted as warning shots to a "bloody civilian" structure.
Nigeria ain't seen nothing yet!
1). Dinner Conference, International League for the Right of Man, New York Hilton Hotel; Associated Press, December 6, 1968
2). White House Memorandum to President Richard Nixon, January, 28, 1969
3). "IBB Where is the SSS File" by Austen Oghuma, 2010