Nigeria Briefing Paper

Nigerias initial experiment with parliamentary

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Unformatted text preview: gious/regional tendencies that were first formally institutionalized during colonial rule. Nigeria’s initial experiment with parliamentary democracy was short-lived, with a coup d’etat in 1966 in which Balewa along with other prominent government leaders were assassinated. Major General Johnson Aguyi-Ironsi invoked emergency powers, suspending the constitution, dismantling the federal system, and banning Nigeria Briefing Paper Copyright © 2005 by College Board. All rights reserved. Available at 14 all political parties as he formed the Federal Military Government (FMG). The Christian Igbo leader’s military rule precipitated anti-Igbo riots and violence outside of the Igbo-dominated east. Less than a year later, Ironsi and some Igbo military officers were killed in another military coup d’etat. A Christian from the north, Lieutenant Colonel Yakubu Gowon, was named head of the FMG, and he quickly reintroduced the federal system of government to the country and promised a constitutional conference to provide the roadmap for a return to civilian rule. Ethnic polarization continued during Gowon’s leadership, with a disruptive civil war from 1967 to 70 that threatened to disintegrate Nigeria. Igbos in the eastern region of the country were particularly unhappy with Gowon’s leadership, especially regarding the distribution of oil revenues earned from the eastern region of the country. The governor of this region, Lieutenant Colonel Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, led this struggle on behalf of the Igbo community, culminating on May 30, 1967, with the establishment of the independent Republic of Biafra. The three-year civil war that ensued resulted in thousands of combat casualties and, some have estimated, over a million deaths in the eastern region due to famine and starvation resulting from the federal government’s blockade of the east. In the years following the war, Gowon attempted to reunify Nigeria, but during his rule corruption became rampant, especially during the “oil boom” years of the early 1970s. The combination of corruption, high inflation, and poor economic planning limited his effectiveness and popularity during this period. Gowon remained in power until 1975, when he was replaced by Murtala Muhammed, a Muslim Hausa-Fulani from the north. Despite Muhammed’s efforts to combat corruption by dismissing large numbers of government officials and military officers, the following year Muhammed was assassinated in an abortive military coup d’etat staged by Gowon supporters. He was subsequently replaced by Olusegun Obasanjo, a Christian Yoruba from the west (and the current elected president of Nigeria!). Obasanjo proceeded to lay the groundwork for the Second Nigeria Briefing Paper Copyright © 2005 by College Board. All rights reserved. Available at 15 Republic. A 19-state federal republic with a new constitution patterned after the American system was developed, and political activity was permitted after years of a “state of emergency” that severely restricted political liberties. The adoption of an American presidential system was designed to limit the impact of ethnicity on politics:...
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This document was uploaded on 04/02/2013.

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