The Military as an organisation consists of the army, the Navy and the air force. The primary role of the Military in any civil society is to defend the territorial integrity of the country. This involves defence against external aggression and from internal insurgence. Unfortunately, over the years, the military has left their traditional role to the performance of other roles – the administrative role or at best performing dual functions in the society which include that of the defender of the State constitution and administrative role (Erigin, 1990). A military government is usually established after a military coup in which the armed forces overthrow a former civilian or military government. In Nigeria, the first military coup took place on January 15, 1966 when a few young officers in the Nigerian Army planned and executed a coup overthrowing the government of the country. The military installed General Aguiyi Ironsi as the Head of State and Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
Features of Military Government
The main features of military government are described briefly as follows:
1. Military government usually comes into power by removing the existing government through a coup. This means that a military government is not usually elected.
2. During military government, constitutional provisions are usually suspended. Laws are usually made through the enactment of decrees and edicts.
3. Military government possesses authoritarian character. This is because it rules without opposition and accountable to anybody.
4. The level of political participation is usually low since democratic practices and other machinery of elections and partisanship are absent.
5. In a military government, there is the fusion of both the executive and legislative powers of government embodied in the military councils.
6. The replacement of the law-making bodies by military councils helps to limit open political discussion.
7. Military government usually co-opts civilian elites such as politicians and bureaucrats to participate in government.
8. Individual liberty is usually restricted and people can be arrested and detained.
Advantages of Military Government
1. The Military helps in speedy decision making and implementation. The absence of legislative debates on policy issues enhance quick decision during military rule.
2. In a military government issues are depolarised. Crucial issues involving the welfare of the people are free from excessive politicisation. These are treated or considered on the basis of merit.
3. The military are reckoned to be better modernisers. They initiate meaningful and sustainable developmental programmes that help to transform the society. The development of the society in economic, education and social spheres are given great attention.
Disadvantages of Military Government
1. Military governments are essentially dictatorial in character. This is because during military government popular opposition and checks are absent.
2. The military lacks the art of government. They are not trained to govern, but to defend the territorial integrity or sovereignty of the State.
3. The tenure of military government is often marked by excessive bureaucratic influence in politics. The civil servant becomes their main focus of influence. The military relies on bureaucrats who may not fully appreciate complex dimensions of political problems.
4. Military administrations are often established by coups rather than by popular mandate and therefore owe no allegiance to any individual or group.
5. Military government delays the evolution of genuine democracy, for instance, during the long years of the military, many Nigerians were no longer interested in the process of democratic election.
6. The military’s involvement in politics delays the evolution of participant political culture. By participant political culture is meant the habit of sharing positively in the working of democratic political institutions like elections, parliamentary legislation, free expression of opinion, etc., however, during military rule, there is usually a low level of political activities.
7. The military encourages political instability. The coming of the military into politics and power promoted frequent disruption and change of government.