Hussaini Jibrin, PhD
Department of History and War Studies
Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna

One common feature in African military history during the post-colonial era was its intervention into national politics. The intervention was according to them (the military) as a result of failure of governance by the crop of leaders who took over power from the colonial regimes. But whenever, the military tastes the palatability of power, retribution through coup and counter-coups becomes the norm among themselves. This also, unfortunately, manifests along ethnic, sectional, religious and ideological differences. Parts of the consequences of this are; riots, conflicts, complex emergencies and civil wars, in many African nations. After the civil wars, the military institutions themselves, bore or suffered terribly from the impact of the conflicts in so many ramifications. In Nigeria, after the civil war in 1967-1970, the Army witnessed wide expansion in its numerical strength. This has no doubt adversely affected the professionalism of the force, because of the lack of enough accommodation of the expanded number of the personnel immediately the war ended. The findings of this paper reveal that, interactions between the Army and civilian population in the towns occupied by the military resulted to indiscipline, corruption, poor civil-military relations among other unprofessional practices. The paper adopts both primary and secondary sources of reconstruction of history through the use of oral interviews, newspapers and published books.

Of the many developments which took place in the 20th century history of Nigeria, possibly the most important was the end of the country’s Civil War in 1970 which saw the emergence of the nation out of the ravages of the war. This really marked a turning point in historical development of the country. The day of 15th January, 1970 was indeed a landmark in the history of the Nigerian state. It was certain that, days earlier than this, were days of serious uncertainty and confusion in the entire country especially, in the debunked eastern region. At this period, the Nigerian Army was at war front in trenches and creeks fighting the Biafran secessionists. Suddenly, the announcement was aired on Radio Nigeria, Lagos, that the secessionists had surrendered and accepted the unity of one Nigeria. Because of the state of enormous fear and uncertainty around the period, many among the officers and men of the forces could not believe it. Sergeant Isa Shu’aibu testified that, it baffled him when he heard the announcement at the time holding his riffle in a trench, even though, there were circulated rumour at that time that the Biafrans were about to surrender. As a result of the worsening situation on both sides (Biafrans and Nigeria), soldiers became so distressed that the surrender provided a serious relief to them. Alas, while the conflict ended, victory was recorded by the Army, another fresh challenges broke out in the Nigerian Army which affected the smooth running of the Nigerian Defence sector. These challenges include: demobilization in the army, re-organization of the Army, corruption, civil-military relations as well as barracks or accommodation challenge. In the light of the foregoing, this presentation deals with the latter and how the subsequent regimes in Nigeria approached the problem. Thus, for simple analysis, the paper is divided into sub-headings: introduction, barracks accommodation under General Gowon, 1970-1975, barracks under General Murtala Ramat Muhammed, 1975-1976, barracks under General Olusegun Obasanjo 1976-1979 challenge of the barracks, attempts by the successive regimes to address the problem and conclusion.

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