Ethnic Nationalism in the Nigerian Army: Lessons, Legacies and Prognosis of the First Military Coup d’etat, 1966-2015 By

S. I. Okoro, P. U. Omeje


What we know today as the Nigerian Army emerged from the crucible of the colonial West African Frontier Force (WAFF). The force essentially embraced all the colonial troops in West Africa. With this background, one would have expected a cosmopolitan outlook and orientation for the Army, and by extension, the military in the emerging nation-states bequeathed to the West African peoples by departing colonial masters in the 1960s. For Nigeria, and indeed many other new states in West Africa of the early post-colonial period, however, this was hardly the case. The first military coup d’etat in Nigeria came with a high dose of nationalistic and indeed cosmopolitan rhetoric: but preceding events and development soon gave way for the very opposite reality a military that was steeped in ethnicisim, and even sectarianism. Our intention here is to interrogate the forces that made for ethnic nationalistic ethos and proclivity within the ranks and file of the military, which eventually produced and sustained a negative interpretation for a supposedly altruistic and nationalistic intention. The lessons, legacies and prognosis of that epochal event in the political history of Nigeria are analyzed. using the instrumentalist model in the analysis of conflicts in plural African societies


Ethnic Nationalism, Coup d'etat. The Military, Nigeria. Instrumentalism

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