Lade Inhalt...

Civil Military Relations in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic

©2009 Masterarbeit 94 Seiten


The virtues of democracy being promoted by the West in most of emerging democracies are confronted by challenges which are peculiar to each of these transiting nations. The peculiarity of Nigeria’s transition lies in the improvised nature of the political system. This challenged the basic principles of democratic system. Being formerly a praetorian state, consolidation of Nigeria nascent democracy is therefore tied to the relationship between the civilian authority and military institution. This research is a study of civilmilitary relations in the context of transition and democratization. The exclusive civilian control of the armed forces in transitional democracy is empirically not suitable, particularly in Nigeria where the military still enjoys its negotiated prerogatives during the transition from authoritarian rule. The role of armed forces in the nation democratisation consequently defines their relationship with civilian authority. Issues of civil-military relations are investigated under the unique nature of the post authoritarian political patterns in Nigeria.


Table of Contents

Title page




1.0 Introduction
1.1 References

2.0 Theoretical Framework
2.1 Theory of civil military relations in transitional democracy: context and content of issues in Peter Feaver’s Agency Theory
2.2 Conceptualizing Strategic Interaction: a core of Feaver’s Agency theory
2.3 Methodology
2.4 References

3.0 Historical legacies of Nigerian military
3.1 Partisan Army- Nigerian military since
3.2 Highlights of civil-military relations in Nigeria since independence
3.3 Retired military officers in politics
3.4 Reference

4.0 Civil-military behaviour
4.1 The military and society - a case of Nigeria
4.2 Validation/invalidation of research hypothesis
4.3 Civil-military relations in Nigeria’s fourth republic
4.4 References

5.0 Summary and Conclusion

6.0 Bibliography

7.0 Appendix
7.1 Appendix A: Lexicons
7.2 Appendix B: Deductive analysis


1.0 Introduction

The end of ‘Cold War’ accelerated the process of democratization in most developing nations. This period witnessed massive transformations of formerly communist nations and authoritarian regimes across Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin American to democratic ones. It was the 'third wave' of democratization according to Huntington that began implausibly and unwittingly in Portugal in 1974 (1991:21). Thomas Carothers described it as a global democratic trend that involves a simultaneous movement of several countries away from dictatorial rule towards more liberal and often democratic government (2002:5-21). Nigeria returned to the fold as a democratizing nation in 1999 after several years of military rule. Suffice to note that the return to democracy (or at the least democratization) in Nigeria after several years of military autocracy was hard worn. It was the combination of external and internal pressures that led to the voluntary withdrawal of the military from politics. However, the military left the corridors of power after perfecting a strong network of patron-clients relations spanning social, economic and political terrains (Ajayi, A 2007: 65-67).

It was within this network (patrimonialism) that the military opted for a retired military general to assume the mantle of sailing the ship of the nation in 1999. The choice of President Obasanjo was a move to appease both the military (which has been internally fragmented, fractionalized and unstable as a result of its divulging to politics) and the Yorubas, the dominant ethnic group in the Southwest of Nigeria, over the annulment of the essentially free and fair June 12, 1993 election. Therefore, analysts and observers of Nigerian politics regarded the rise of Obasanjo to the presidency as more in tune with traditional authoritarian rule than genuine democracy (Walker, J 1999; Fayemi K.J, 2003: 66-67; Amaike, G 2007: 185-186). Nevertheless, public discussion concentrated on the need to consolidate on the nation’s 'pacted' transition[1] , to avoid a re-emergence of military rule and to distort democracy (Victor, S 2008, Aniete, A 2008, Emmanuel E, 2008, Obasanjo, O 2006, Ojo, E 2006:4-5).

Against the background of military influence is the system of power, character and nature of the political system (Ajayi, A 2007: 97, Agbese D: 2000); the prospect of democracy in the polity is continuously being linked to the role of military in the consolidation process (Umar, M 2006:62, Obasanjo, O 2006:4). In a similar vein, the need for democratization in Nigeria reinforces the idea of liberal democracy emphasizing democratic control of the military. However, apart from being a 'pacted' transition, “what is probably most unique about Nigeria transition was the preponderant influence that the class of top brass military generals, acting no doubt in concert with other dominant elites” as noted by Bayo Adekanye (2005:13). Therefore, the need to consolidate the nation's nascent democracy on the one hand, unleashed a tendency for civilian government to assert greater influence over the officer corps and for military to try to defend their preexisting prerogatives. It is in this context that civil-military relations in Nigeria's fourth republic are examined. The military plays a crucial role when democratic consolidation is premised on establishing civilian control of the military, particularly in a country with a history of military coups. As submitted by Obi, such a path to democracy was a legacy that cast democracy in the image of the military (Obi, C 2008). On the other, it triggered the high influx of retired military generals in the political process. Dr. Onaolapo Soloye captured the phenomenon thus:

…the involvement of the military in governance in Nigeria has given
undue advantage to military officers both serving and retired. Having
been socialized into the arena of power, they have developed high
political visibility, built vast network friends acolytes, loyalist and all
manners of associates. In consequences, most of the known and
easily recognizable political faces today are more often than not retired
military officers.

Soleyes’s statement epitomizes a situation of retired military officers’ dominance of the Nigerian political terrain. Abubakar Mormoh described this phenomenon as the imposition of new dictatorship in the form of de-democratization (2006: 12-21). Anugwom argues that the difficulties facing democratization in Africa emanate from the realities of African societies which include but are not limited to recent historical experiences. (Anugwom, E 2001).

The empirical reality in Nigeria portrays an ambiguous situation of classifying the nation's political trajectory. It poses a challenge of classification to scholars on 'transitology' as argued by Thomas Carothers and Larry Diamond. They contend that nations like Nigeria do not seem to deepen democratic ideals and thus do not consolidate democracy (Carother, T 2002 and Diamond, L 2002). In this sense, a civil-military relation of liberal democracy in Nigeria is confronted with the limitations connected to the challenges of institutionalizing democratic norms. This creates a lacuna in Nigeria’s civil-military relations, a deep underlying structural distortion posing a grave challenge to the national democratization process. In fact, observers of the Nigerian political scene have queried the view that Nigeria returned to civilian democratic rule in 1999[2] following the massive election rigging in 1999, 2003 and 2007, respectively. Carothers had earlier contended that: “of few transitions to democracy that are under way, more than a few are not following the model” (op cit). Notwithstanding, the nation's pacted democracy has a democratic institutional structure with the motive to transform its democratic substance through continuous reforms. Therefore, one major factor necessary for the consolidation of democracy relates to the state of relations between the military and the civilian leaders. In fact the reliance on military to support civil rule underscores the need to take the case of consolidating Nigeria’s democratic gains to the door steps of the military, as stated by former president Olusegun Obasanjo[3] . In this regard, the extent to which the military and political interests in the polity broker a common ground is therefore critical to the sustenance of the nation’s democracy.

It is paramount to note that civil-military relations are concerned with the nature of the relationship between the military and the society. As enunciated by Ngoma, this relationship takes two dimensions: “the first at the ‘people level’ while the second is a rather complex manner with governmental structures- a phenomenon that entails application of the ‘catch’ terms of civilian control or oversight”( 2006:6). In addition, the constantly changing realities and traumatic socio-political history of the African continent, together with the general unstable economic environment, have affected civil-military relations on the continent. Therefore, the socio-political history and economic conditions of countries in Africa define the nature and character of civil-military relations (Ibid pp. 8). Perhaps the fusion of warriors and rulers in traditional African societies like what appear in Nigeria question the possibility of an effective civilian control of armed forces in the polity. Not to mention the prolonged military rule with its deleterious effect on civil-military relations in Nigeria, what Ebo describes as “the inversion of civil-military relations, with the structure of the relationship literarily standing on its head” (Ebo, A 2005:1).

Most empirical works on civil-military relations in Nigeria often follow discursive perspectives of norms as stipulated in the constitution and the strategies the military employ to remain in political power (Adekanye, B 1999, 2005; Fayemi K. J 2003: 57-77; Ajayi, A 2007: 97-110; Ojo, E 2007; Zabadi I 2006:76-90). These studies therefore do not go beyond analyzing the role of military as outlined in the constitution, the cause of military rule and its consequences on the political process. Instead I examine the conditional (or exigential) factors that evolved during the course of military rules and how these factors have affected military relations with civilian authorities in order to determine civil-military behavior of the on-going Fourth Republic. It also marks a departure from past studies by adopting Feaver’s model of day-to-day strategic interaction[4] a feature of his ‘agency theory’, while simultaneously determining the level of civilian control by using Samuel Fitch criteria[5] . This enhances the possibility of combining traditions and theories which have not previously been connected. Admittedly, there has been a concentration of research on civil-military relations in established democracies. Hence, major theories on civil-military relations were developed particularly for these democracies. For example, Huntington (1957), Janowitz (1960), Bland (1999), Feaver (2003) all focused their theories on established democracies. Combining traditions and theories that seem unrelated will enable this study to be situated within the stream of knowledge seeking to produce new understandings in the study of civil-military relations[6] particularly as it relates to transitional democracies.

In view of the above, this study proposes an argument that the degree of political instability in a post military state like Nigeria is proportional to civil-military behavior. This behavior may reach a crisis level, or a relatively stable or balanced level, which is proportional to high, average or low political instability. To this end, I formulated three research hypotheses: one, an effective supervisory role by the civilian sector over the military is a function of the extent to which liberal democratic principles are upheld in Nigeria; two, the military legacies undermine the achievement of balanced civil-military relations in the polity; and three, the present political stability in Nigeria is a result of mutual desires to sustain democracy by both the officer corps and civilian leaders. These hypotheses are validated in the fourth chapter. This is further clarified in chapter three where I investigate the historical legacies of the Nigerian military that led to a perversion of the liberal model of civil-military relations inherited at independence. In addition, I trace historically the kind of civil-military relations that the nation had from the First Republic to present. The chapter goes further to investigate the role of retired military officers in politics, and determines whether these retirees act as a bridge between civil and military/security constituencies.

Most studies on civil-military relations in Nigeria avoid the complexity of the relationship by focusing on the constitutional role of the military in a democracy. However, this study attempts to investigate how the conditional factors of the military as an institution have shaped or are shaping the nature and character of civil-military relations in the polity against the backdrop of the importance and the need to consolidate national democracy. Henry Bienen once stated that most studies on civil-military relations in the third world neglect: “the institutional characteristics of the military organization and political process which is a germane issue that needs investigation in third world civil-military relations” (1981). Therefore, in an attempt to examine the military organization, the political process and democratization, this study will combine studies on democratization and transition research with theories of civil-military relations. It further ensures the possibilities of applying civil-military relations theories that were derived and focused on developed democracies to transitional democracies. Furthermore, the study attempts to apply Feaver’s 'agency theory', with particular emphasis on strategic interaction as a feature of the theory. This is further explored in the next chapter where I deal with the arguments in relevant literatures on the theoretical and empirical aspects of civil military relations.

To compliment the examination of the web of relations between the military and other components of society in Nigeria, I explore the strategies adopted by the Obasanjo and Yardua administrations to ensure civilian supremacy in the fourth chapter. It provides the basis for understanding the problems of civil-military relations in Nigeria, as it relates to the suppression of democratic institutions by past military regimes. The chapter further explains the interconnection between achieving the nation's aspiration for genuine democracy and her civil-military relations. I view civil-military relations as transitory as has been argued of democracy by scholars such as Thomas Carothers and Larry Diamond (Carother, T 2002, Diamond, L 2002). The last chapter of the study basically deals with the summary and conclusion. It gives a synopsis of how the study intends to move away from the ‘classic understanding of civil-military relations’ to make a clear civil-military relations understanding of transitional democracies. The section identifies relevant policy recommendations on civil-military relations in Nigeria.

1.1 References

Abubakar, Mormoh “Democracy and Sustainable Development in Nigeria” in Mohammed S.L (ed), Civilian and Security Agencies Relationship: Role of Military in Consolidating Democracy in Nigeria, (Proceedings of a National Workshop Part II, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung 2006)

Adedeji, Ebo Towards a Code of Conduct for Armed and Security Forces in Africa: Opportunity and Challenges, (Geneva Center for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF), Policy Paper 2005) [Accessed 11.11.2008]

Adegboyega, Ajayi The Military and The Nigerian State 1966-1993: a study of the strategies of political power control (Trenton NJ: African World Press, 2007)

Adekanye, Bayo Reforming the Character of Civil-Military Realations for Democratic Governance in Nigerian after 1999, (Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Lagos Distinguished Lecture Series 2005, No. 8)

----------------- The Retired Military as Emergent Power Factor in Nigeria, (Ibadan: Heinemann 999);

Agbese, Dan Fellow Nigerians: Turning Points in the Political History of Nigeria (Ibadan: Umbrelaa Books, 2000)

Amaike, Gift O. (2007) “The Return of the Retire Military Officers into Politics and Its Implication for Democracy in Nigeria” in Oyekanmi F and Soyombo O. (ed.) Society and Governance: The quest for Legitimacy in Nigeria, Lagos, University of Lagos and Federich Ebert Stiftung Foundation

Anugwom, Edlyne “The military Ethnicity and Democracy in Nigeria” Journal of Social Development in Africa, Vol. 16 No. 2 July 2001

Bienen, Henry “Civil-Military Relations in the Third World” International Political Science Review 1981; 2; 363 [Accessed 04/12/2008]

Bland, Douglas ‘A Unified Theory of Civil-Military Relations’ Armed Forces & Society 1999; 26; 7 [Accessed October 11, 2008]

Carothers, Thomas “The End of Transition Paradigm” Journal of Democracy, Vol. 13, No. 1 January 2002

Diamond, Larry “Election Without Democracy: Thinking About Hybrid Regime” Journal of Democracy, Vol. 13, No. 2 April 2002.

Fayemi, Kayode “Governing the Security Sector in a Democratising Polity” in Cawthra G. and Luckham R. Governing Insecurity: Democratic Control of Military and Security Establishment in Transitional Democracies, (London: Zed Books, 2003)

Feaver Peter (2003) Armed Servants: Agency, Oversight and Civil-Military Relations, Cambridge: Harvard University Press

Huntington, Samuel The Third Wave: democratisation in the late twentieth century, (Norman and London: University of Oklahoma Press 1991)

--------------------(1957) The Soldier and the State: The Theory and Politics of Civil-Military Relation, Cambridge Massachusset: Harvard University Press

Janowitz, Morris The Professional Soldier: A social and Political Portrait, (New York: The Free Press, 1960)

Ngoma, Naison “The Myths and Realities of Civil Military Relations in Africa and the Search for Peace and Development” Journal of Security Sector Management, Vol.4 No. 1 (Jan., 2006), Global Facilitation Network for Security Sector Reform, University of Cranfield, UK

Obi, Cyril Nigeria: Democracy on Trial, Lecture given in September 2004, Nordiska Afrikainsitutet, Occasional Electronic paper 1 [Accessed November 12, 2008]

Ojo, Emmanuel “Taming the monster: Demilitarization and Democratization in Nigeria” Armed Forces and Societ y 2006; 32; 254 [Accessed November 5, 2007]

Zabadi, Istifanus “Civil Military Relations in a Democracy” in Muhammed, S (ed.) Civilian and Security Agencies Relationship: Role of Military in Consolidating Democracy in Nigeria, (Proceedings of a National Workshop Part II, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung 2006)

Primary references:

Thisday Newspaper October 1, 2006 “Obasanjo at Nigerian Defence Academy: Task Military on Democracy” pp 4

The Guardian Newspaper January 25, 2006 “Democratic Sustenance in Nigeria and Challenges of Retired General”

Newswatch Magazine October 3, 2008 “How to Fix Nigeria: The electoral Process”


2.0 Theoretical Framework

In this section, I explore Peter Feaver’s institutionalist approach, through his agency theory of civil-military relations. Feaver’s principal-agents framework, like previous foundational theories of civil-military relations, focused on the interplay between ‘two actors’[7] . But unlike classic theories that largely ignore the day-to-day, strategic interactions between soldiers and civilians, Feaver argues that these interactions are best understood through an institutional lens of principal-agent theory. The agency theory provides a basis for determining the nature of civil military behaviour in Nigeria which is useful for measuring the military vis-à-vis the civilian, particularly using Samuel Fitch's criteria. In addition, there is an attempt to clarify Nigeria as a nation in transition within the parameters of an electoral democracy that is in transition to the basic fundamentals of democracy.

2.1 Theory of civil military relations in transitional democracy: context and content of issues in Peter Feaver’s Agency Theory

Like any principal-agent relationship, the employer (principal) hired a diligent worker (agent) and once hired, the employer would like to be certain that the employee is doing what he is supposed to do (working) and not doing something else (shirking). In the civil-military context, the civilian principal contracts with the military agent to develop the ability to use force in defence of the civilian interest (Feaver, P 200:57). Once the contract is established, the civilian principal seeks to ensure that the military agent does what the civilians want while minimizing the dangers associated with the delegation of powers (Ibid). The civilian, therefore, decides the mechanism they will use to ensure that the military does not abuse their delegated role, though this mechanism has associated costs as propounded by Feaver.

Agency theory explores how civilian and military actors relate on political decisions in a democracy. To Feaver, civil-military relations should be understood as a game of strategic interactions in which the civilian principal has supremacy to monitor the military agents. He deduced the agency theory that specifies the conditions under which the civilians are expected to monitor the military intrusively or non-intrusively and the conditions under which to expect the military to work or shirk. “Within the limits of probabilistic social science, and the equally limiting constraints of measurement and operationalization of difficult concepts, agency theory allows for contingents predictions about the likelihood of conduct of day-to-day civil-military relations” (Ibid). The theory outlines a general model for determining the behaviour of civil-military relations, albeit in several pairs of civilian and military patterns of behaviour (Feaver, P 1998:410).

In this framework, Feaver explores the control relationship playing out on a day-to-day basis given that the civilians in a democracy enjoy general supremacy over the military. He submits that: “relations between civilian and the military are, in their most basic form, a strategic interaction carried out within a hierarchical setting”(Feaver, P 2003:54). “It is a strategic interaction because the choices civilian makes are contingents on their expectations of what military is likely to do and vice versa. It is hierarchical (at least in democracies) because civilians enjoy the privilege position; civilian have legitimate authority over the military whatever their de facto ability to control the military may be” (Ibid). The civilian sector decides how to monitor the military based on varying expectations they hold about whether or not the military will obey them faithfully in the particulars of what they ask; this he refers to as 'working' and 'shirking'. Feaver’s use of shirking is different from what is typically meant in military vernacular (that is, lazy or desultory behaviour). He uses the word to mean disloyalty; when the military does not work as civilian directs. Agency theory will ensure critical analysis of the issues and behaviours of civil-military relations in Nigeria. It establishes a rationalist baseline against which to measure the influence of both actors on each other.

In classical understandings, particularly as grounded in Samuel Huntington's theory of objective civilian control of the military, civil-military relations are portrayed as separate civilian and military spheres under the assumption that the civilian politicians were the masters of the military, while the military maintains its professionalism (Huntington, S 1967: 81- 85). The problem that is embedded here as posited by Huntington is that of the ability of the military to act professionally in its traditional functions to defend the state and yet to not be able to threaten the state while being subservient to civil authority. This system achieves its objectives by maximizing the professionalism of the officer corps within a clearly defined civil and military leadership. This is the basic principle that underpinned democratic control of the armed forces, as being reinforced in previously authoritarian states and former socialist countries since the early 1990s.

Civilian control in the objective sense, as postulated by Samuel Huntington, is: “that distribution of political power between military and civilian groups which is most conducive to the emergence of professional attitudes and behaviour among the officer corps” (Ibid pp. 83). That this theory developed in response to the new circumstances of the Cold War is questionable when it comes to its applicability to weak democracies. Since its presumption is based on a clearly: “delineated military spheres defined by war fighting that is independent of the social and political spheres” (Burk J, 2002:9), it neglects the problem of sustaining democratic values and practices while focusing on the matter of protecting democracy (Ibid pp. 14, Bruneau, T and Matei, F 2008). Therefore, there are reasons to doubt whether Huntington's theory may well be applied to the contemporary situation in Nigeria, where democratic consolidation is determined by the extent to which the military and political interests in the polity broker a common ground.

The issue as Janowitz saw it was: “how to preserve the ideal of the citizen-soldier in an era when the changing nature of war no longer required mass participation in military service but did require the state to maintain a large standing force of professional soldiers”(Burk J, 2002:11). The tradition inspired by Janowitz provides an important counterweight to Huntington, but on a critical question of how civilian institutions control military institutions on a day-to-day basis, the Janowitzian school does not represent a significant alternative. Although Janowitzian theory underscores the value of civic virtue by bolstering civic participation through the citizen-soldier's role, it lacks the framework to analyse conditional and/or exigential factors as embedded in Nigeria civil-military relations. For example, the military's pre-existing prerogatives create a situation of retired military officers’ dominance of Nigerian political terrain which has largely undermined the growth of strong democratic institutions and ideals, having a direct impact on the nature of civil-military relations in the polity. Furthermore, Janowitzian theory asserts that democratic values and practices ought to be sustained by cultivating the citizen-soldier ideal, which is not possible in Nigeria where the society is seemingly fractionalized along primordial lines, posing a threat to national unity[8] . An attempt to practice this 'citizen-soldier' ideal in Nigeria will only make the country's fragile unity more threatened and will intensify the proliferations of ethnic militia which is already bedevilling the country.

Feaver's agency theory, on the contrary, provides a terrain for understanding the interplay between conditional (or exigential) and normative elements of the actors. It is the admixture of conditional and normative restraint that defines the relation between the actors, hence providing a possibility to determine civil-military behaviour in Nigeria. In a nut shell, both Samuel Huntington and Morris Jonowitz's theories ignores the day-to-day strategic interactions between the soldier and the civilian, which is paramount to understanding civil-military behaviour in transitional countries with weak democratic institutions. In examining their interactions, the military's conditional factors will to a greater extent affect the nature of civil-military interactions, therefore influencing the character of Nigerian civil-military relations. These factors also have effects on the practice of the fundamental of democracy, thereby influencing the capacity of the civilian authority to control the military and their overall interactions with military authority.

The fact that theories of civil-military relations rest on some understanding of democracy bring about a need to understand a country in transition and what democracy implies in such a context. Without going into the rhetoric surrounding the definition of democracy, the 'third wave of democratization' in the modern world began in 1974 implausibly and unwittingly in Portugal (Huntington, S 1991:21). A quarter-century into 'third wave' democratization, Larry Diamond contends, “there has not been academic consensus on what constitute 'democracy'. And we still struggle to classify ambiguous regime.” (Diamond, L. 2002). He was of the view that Nigeria, along with the Ukraine and Venezuela, was an ambiguous regime falling short of any classification. “Yet, increasingly independent observers view Nigeria as an electoral autocratic regime, given the massive (and quite characteristic) fraud in the 1999 elections” (Ibid), which was replicated in the 2007 elections[9] . Nigeria is in a state of political transition[10] and as the nation undergoes the experience, the military as the bedrock is paramount to its success. In this sense, democracy in Nigeria is argued to be very strongly influenced by the officer corps, especially politically active military officers (with strong patrimonial relations within and outside the military institutions) who are forced into retirement during early years of the republic. The regimes of former President Olusegun Obasanjo and the current Umaru Musa Yardua administration therefore could be argued to combine democratic and authoritarian elements. Yet, it is essential to devise an arrangement, which is capable of producing a sense of satisfaction and therefore, creates viable conditions for sustaining democracy. As Huntington has noted, democratization involves: one, the end of an authoritarian regime; two, the installation of a democratic regime: and three, the consolidation of the democratic regime (Huntington, S 1991:35). Nigeria is in the process of consolidating her democracy.

2.2 Conceptualizing Strategic Interaction: a core of Feaver’s Agency theory

Feaver’s general theory of civil-military interaction is adopted to provide a micro-foundation to explain causal mechanisms and alleged crises in civil-military relations (Feaver, P. 1998). In the case of Nigeria, crises may occur when civilians attempt to maximize their constitutional power of control over the military while underrating the conditional character of the military. In the event of this, there is a likelihood of military elite to protect their pre-existing prerogatives. The outcomes may range from any foreseeable events, between compulsory retirement of senior military officers to the highest possible military insubordination: that is, a coup d état. Feaver’s ‘agency theory’ provides various possible models of civilian control of the military. It creates a space for the agent that is the military to carry out its policy preference rather than that of the principal. This he referred to as ‘shirking’, though not without a cost, such activity is liable to be punished by the principal. However, the likelihood of shirking is often determined by the probability that the military will be punished if they do it. This enables a possibility of determining Nigeria civil-military behaviour in a rational choice sense. This behaviour is useful for measuring civil-military relations in Nigeria using Samuel Fitch's criteria of measurement of the military.

As Knop noted earlier, strategic interaction is organized around a particular scenario: “to feature the way ‘actors’ invoke target language purposefully and artfully in dealing with others” (Knop,K. 1988:374-375). In strategic interaction, it is important to understand the “interplay between conditional (or exigential) and normative elements” of the actors. It is the admixture of conditional and normative restraint that defines the relationship between the actors. The basic systematic problem, therefore, is to combine how things are supposed to be done and a unit tries to get its way, under what circumstances it may or may not be successful, and what strategies and tactics it employs (Robertson, R.1968:16-33). Each actor makes 'moves' based on their own preferences for outcomes and its expectations of how the other side is likely to act. In order to offer a far reaching theory, Feaver criticized the traditional theory as lacking an account of microfoundations in the relationship of civil-military relations. He noted that: “Huntington and Janowitzian schools, explain changes in the civil-military relationship in terms of changes in broad exogenous factors such as the external threats, the nature of prevailing ideology within civilian society and the extents of integration between the military elites” (Feaver, P. 19988: 410), but did not specify an account of the microfoundations' effect on the relationship. As argued by Peter Feaver, “agency theory provides such a microfoundation, treating civil-military relations as comprised of an ongoing series of strategic interactions (Ibid pp. 408).

Offering various possible relations of civilian control of the military in his 'agency theory', Feaver stated that civilians have the right to be wrong, being the 'principals' who hire military professional as their 'agents'. It quickly reminds one of the military corrective regime posturing, which has often served to justify an overt military intervention in politics, particularly the truncations of the First and Second Republics. Their claim was that the policies were improper and the security situation in the country after the 1965 regional elections was deteriorating, while the Second Republic was cut short by the military based on justification that corruption was rampant and the civilian government was insensitive to the plight of the people. Agency theory underrates such claims for an overt intervention in politics by the military, contending that the civilian masters have the right to be wrong. In this sense, the model assumes democracy requires civilian control of the military, even when civilians are wrong.


[1] Guillermo O Donnell and Philippe Schmitter defined a pact as an explicit but not always publicly explicated or justified, agreement among a select set of actors which seek to define or (or better to redefine) rule governing the exercise of power on the basis of mutual guarantees for mutual interest of those entering into it. Guillermo O Donnell and Philippe Schmitter (1986) Transition from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies, Baltimore: The John Hopkins University pp 36.

[2] See for example Pat Utomi “How to Fix Nigeria: The electoral Process” Newswatch Magazine October 3, 2008, where he outlined some electoral observers that condemned the 2007 presidential election in Nigeria. Larry Diamond also acknowledges this in his article of 2002 published in the Journal of Democracy as cited above.

[3] See the Independent day message delivered by President Olusegun Obasanjo at Nigerian Defence Academy, Thisday Newspaper October 1, 2006 pp. 4

[4] It is explicitly analyzed by Peter Feaver in “Crisis as Shirking: An Agency Theory Explanation of the Souring of American Civil-Military Relations” Armed Forces & Society 1998; 24; 407 [Accessed 04.12.2008] pp 410

[5] Samuel Fitch in his study of Latin American countries civil-military relations offers three criteria for determining the level of democratic control over the armed forces. These are elaborated in the second chapter, under the caption of methodology and further expatiated upon as it relates to Nigeria in chapter four.

[6] For more understanding of this stream of knowledge see, Dr. Anthony Foster article: “New Civil-Military Relations and its Research Agendas” [Accessed November 15, 2008]

[7] The major actors in civil military relations are the civilian authority (i.e. executive president and the parliaments) and the military institutions. Other actors include but not limited to security agencies, organize civil society, non-state security organization and armed militias.

[8] Although, Professor I.J Eliagwu argues that the Nigerian military reflects a cohesive cross-ethnic unity (in a lecture delivered on 1st December, 2008 at University of Freiburg). While I accept that it may exemplify a symbolic unity, I defer from his argument that their unity transcend the ethnic representations in the force. The history of counter-coups, which shows ethnic dimensions in Nigeria, underpinned my arguments. See Edwin Madunagu “Politics and Coups in Nigeria” Guardian Newspaper May 6, 2004.

[9] See Pat Utomi “How to Fix Nigeria: The electoral Process” Newswatch Magazine October 3, 2008, where he outlined some electoral observers that condemned the 2007 presidential election in Nigeria.

[10] Political transition involves a dynamic process or change in terms of political formation and the procedures of governance.


ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Paperback)
812 KB
Institution / Hochschule
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg – Institute of Sociology (Germany)/ School of Social Science (South Africa)
2012 (September)
civil military relations nigeria’s fourth republic

Titel: Civil Military Relations in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic