Military Rule In Nigeria: All You Must Know About The First And The Past Rulers

The country, Nigeria gained her independence on the 1st October, 1960 and it became a republic in 1963. Since then, Nigeria has a country has her ups and downs. She has had 16 heads of state including the present administration. So far,Nigeria has witnessed 6 military coups out of which it is only one that is without bloodshed.


The first military coup in Nigeria was led by Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi in 1966 against the Nnamdi Azikiwe’s administration. During this coup, all the high profiled politicians in both the Northern and Western part of the country were killed. Aguiyi Ironsi took over the seat of power in January, 1966 but lasted only only 194 days in office before been killed in a counter coup that same year.

The second military coup was led by General Yakubu Gowon. This may have been the administration with the most bloodshed. General Yakubu Gowon killed over 50,000 igbos in North. This led to the first civil war in the country as igbos demand to have their own nation to be called Biafra. During this war, over one million people were killed with hundreds of thousand of soldiers. His administration is credited for infrastructural development, creation of 12 states, indigenization policy in 1972 and expansion of government bureaucracy. He led the country from 1966 to 1975.


In 1975, General Murtala Mohammed was made head of state after a successful coup by younger soldiers. He removed most of the officials of the previous government and tried them for corruption. His administration also took over the media houses. He was later murdered in his car on 13th February,1976 after a failed coup.


In 1983, Major General Muhammadu Buhari took over the affairs of the nation after a successful coup. This was a hard time for Nigerians as the government raised interest, cut expenses and avoided borrowing. Many people were jailed, detained and even killed for corruption charges or if seem against the government. His administration lasted only two years.

In 1985, General Ibrahim Babangida took over the nation after a successful bloodless coup. General Ibrahim Babangida promise to restore the human right upon his taken over. In 1990, he witnessed a failed coup before he later conducted election in 1993 with the promise to return civilian rule. The 1993 is acknowledged as the most peaceful election in Nigeria. It was nullified by General Ibrahim Babangida and this caused uproar in the country. He later step down for Ernest Shonekan as an interim government in 1993.


READ ALSO- Adeyemi College Of Education: Courses, School Fees And Admission Process


In 1993, the secretary of defense of President Ernest Shonekan, General Sani Abacha took over the country after a successful coup. He was de facto president.  General Sani Abacha led the country for five years. The years were one of the hottest for Nigerians if the hottest. He died on 8th June, 1998 and was buried on the same day. This was a great news for Nigerians on that day, so much that people greatly rejoiced. This marked the last of military rule in Nigeria up til date.



Listed Below Are The Past Military Rulers And Their Years Of Reign In Nigeria 

Military rule (1966-1979) 

General Johnson Thomas AGUIYI-IRONSI: Jan 16, 1966 to Jul 29, 1966 (overthrown).

General Yakubu GOWON: Jul 29, 1966 to Jul 29, 1975 (overthrown).

General Murtala MOHAMMED: Jul 29, 1975 to Feb 13, 1976 (assassinated).

General Olusegun OBASANJO: Feb 13, 1976 to Oct 1, 1979 (resigned).


 Second republic (1979-1983) 

Shehu SHAGARI: Oct 1, 1979 to Dec 31, 1983 (overthrown).


Military rule (1983-1993)

General Muhammadu BUHARI: Dec 31, 1983 to Aug 27, 1985 (overthrown).

General Ibrahim BABANGIDA: Aug 27, 1985 to Aug 26, 1993 (resigned).


Third republic (1993)

Ernest SHONEKAN: Aug 26, 1993 to Nov 17, 1993 (overthrown).


Military rule (1993-1999) 

General Sani ABACHA: Nov 17, 1993 to Jun 8, 1998 (died in office).

General Abdulsalami ABUBAKAR: Jun 8, 1998 to May 29, 1999 (resigned).

Leave a Comment