Nigeria’s journey to democracy did not start twenty years ago.
In this piece, we take a journey back to the 8 times the military took power in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s first military junta started in 1966. The coup which ousted Prime Minister Alhaji Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa also led to his death.
Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi was then made the head of state. Yet he too was soon toppled and killed in a countercoup in July of that year.
Yakubu Gowon succeeded Aguiyi-Ironsi and he immediately set up a Supreme Military Council. Gowon held power until July 1975, when he too got toppled in a bloodless coup.
Murtala Mohammed succeeded Gowon.
Buka Suka Dimka and others in a very violent coup assassinated Mohammed on February 1976.
The plotters where unable to kill Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ, who at that point succeeded Mohammed as head of state.
Obasanjo dissolved the Supreme Military Council and handed power over to Shehu Shagari.
It led to the end of the military regime and establishment of the Nigerian second republic.
Shagari’s government did not last.
He got ousted in the 1983 Nigerian coup that produced General Muhammadu Buhari, who was then appointed Chairman of the Supreme Military Council of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces by the junta.
However, two years later,he too was overthrown by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1985, who went on to name himself President of the Armed Forces Ruling Council of Nigeria.
Babangida assured Nigerians of a return to democracy when he became president of the Armed Forces Ruling Council of Nigeria, yet he administered Nigeria for about eight years.
In 1993, he temporarily handed power to the interim head of state, Ernest Shonekan, in a move towards democratization.
Two months later, while Babangida was visiting Egypt, Shonekan was overthrown by General Sani Abacha.
Abacha appointed himself Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council of Nigeria.
After Abacha’s passing in 1998, General Abdulsalami Abubakar took over until Olusẹgun Ọbasanjọ again moved toward becoming a democratically elected leader.
His election and later swearing-in as president brought to an end the military era once again and led to the establishment of the Fourth Nigerian Republic.