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1.1       BACKGROUND

Civil- Military Relations (CMR) emerged after the Second World War as a dominant challenge and a recurring theme in academic literature in developed and developing democracies across the world. Changes in both the geo-strategic environment and domestic political systems are leading to calls for a review of CMR. The concern has been about finding an appropriate balance between the military and civil society in a democracy. In countries emerging from years of military rule, the fear of a politicized military experiencing a re-entry shock and plotting to intervene again by overt military action has been a major source of threat to elected governments in a democracy and the need to well established CMR.

The military exists throughout history and is widely viewed as the “shield and sword of the state” (Adache 2007:38).Most nations have armed forces with their roles stipulated in the country’s constitution.  One of the cardinal objects of a nation’s vital interests is the defence of its territorial integrity by its armed forces and this is sacrosanct. In spite of the armed forces’ sacred role however, their position in the context of national political hierarchy is often a source of debate and intense emotion.

CMR has grown over the years beyond just the concern about civil supremacy or control over the military. Thus, Shiyanbade observes that CMR in any country especially in a democracy is determined by several factors. These include; history of the military as an institution; political culture of the country; the political economy of the state; external factors, the characters and training of the officer corps; the characters and disposition of the political leadership and the constitution of the country (Shiyanbade 2007:9).

Western countries differ greatly as to the degree of control of the military and the model of CMR. For instance, in the United States of America (USA), Britain and Canada; the constitution is the benchmark for measuring the duties of the executive and the military interactions in relation to the legislative oversight of the military (Zabad, p.81). The relationship between the military and the political elites is based on the doctrine of civil supremacy. In the USA, the President and the Congress share almost equal powers over the responsibility for the armed forces.The President is the Commander -in -Chief (C-in-C), but only the congress declares war, raises and supports armies and makes regulation for the armed forces (Meir 1995:2).Therefore, the robustness of the American democracy can be traced to the relations that exist between the political class and the military.

            The state of CMR is however different in the Third World countries where the military has extended its role beyond its constitutional provision to the political spheres of nation-states. Thus, Gupta cites several factors that helped promote the military interventions in the political life of new nation-states. Some important factors include perceived instability, weak political institutions, corruption and government ineffectiveness in handling economic issues.He further observes that the military institutions have not imbibed the professional values and respect for civilian supremacy(Kennedy and Louscher 1991:65). It is therefore not surprising that the boundaries between the polity and the barracks were so blurred.

National security and strong diplomatic stature; proper equilibrium between political influence and military professionalism must be established to create and maintain democratic stability. It is an on-going process which evolves to cater for changing concepts. The situation is however critical in nations like Liberia and Sierra Leone that have recently emerged from authoritarian rule. A proper understanding of CMR implies the recognition of the military institution in the polity. For the military to perform its role effectively to ensure stability of democracy, it is essential that both the military, political elites and the civil society understand their proper roles in a democratic society (National Defence Policy, p.56-57). This understanding will include well defined areas of cooperation between the military, the political leaders and civil society which is CMR.

In Nigeria, the military is now subjected to civil control since return to democratic rule in 1999 after many years of autocratic rule. The military leadership faces with the tasks of educating personnel against clashes with Nigeria Police, civil populace and to be subordinated to civil authority. Policy makers, academics, military strategists and civil society groups are pre-occupied with developing a balanced CMR in the country. Democratic rule therefore demands military subordination to civil authority both in terms of legislative oversight and budgetary allocation among others (Zabadi, p.89). This presents some challenges to the Armed Forces as they are accountable to the civil authority. The researcher’s motivation was to see how to evolve ways of addressing the challenges CMR poses for the Armed Forces.



CMR in a democracy does not only deal with the issues of military in politics and power conflicts, it spans across professionalism, security and defence for enhanced political stability among others (Huntington 1985:3). CMR studies have focused attention on established democracies with very few systematic studies on developing democracies like Nigeria. Most studies of CMR are greatly concerned with the 'military factor' only after an intervention occurs. The role of the same institution in domestic situations where the military does not rule is often neglected or underestimated. The return to democratic governance in Nigeria implies a new approach as regards the oversight of the military and subordination. This is sequel to the fact that the military is the only agent of the state that controls arms hence the need for cooperation and subsequent control of the Armed Forces to guide against its misuse.

One of the main concerns of democracy in Nigeria is how to attain the appropriate balance between maintaining military force strong enough to protect and sustain democratic values of the society, and the civil control to be able to prevent any military takeover of government. It was against this background, that this study sought to provide answers to the following questions:

a.         What is the relationship between CMR and democracy?      

b.         How has CMR fared in a democratic Nigeria?

c.         What are the challenges CMR poses to the Armed Forces in a democracy?

e.         What strategies could be evolved to attain a balanced CMR?



The main objective of the study was to examine CMR in a democratic Nigeria with a view to identifying the challenges for the Armed Forces. The specific objectives are to:

a.         Establish the relationship between CMR and democracy.

b.         Assess the state of CMR in Nigeria since return to democracy from 1999 to 2008.

c.         Identify the challenges of CMR to the Armed Forces of Nigeria.

d.         Proffer strategies for enhancing CMR in Nigeria.



            The study is expected to be of significance to political leaders, military leaders and civil societies’ organisations. It would assist the Nigerian Armed Forces in their continued and sustained resolve at reprofessionalism and subordination to civil authority. It would also contribute to the ongoing debate on military subordination to civil authority and stimulate further research on the subject.


1.5       SCOPE

The scope of this study of CMR in a democracy covered the period 1999 to 2008. This period was chosen because it marked the return of Nigeria to democratic rule, which had witnessed uninterrupted democratic governance for 9 years.





The methodology used in this study was both quantitative and analytical methods. The collection and recording of data were as follows:     


            a.         Sources of Data: The sources of data used in this study were          obtained from both primary and secondary sources.

b.         Method of Data Collection:  In order to accomplish the objective of this study, primary and secondary sources were consulted. Primary sources of data were unstructured interviews, discussions and questionnaires. Secondary sources of data were studies of relevant literature, published and unpublished including newspapers publications.   

(1)  Primary Data: The primary sources of data were the interviews conducted and questionnaires. Those interviewed included; the Chairman Senate Committee on Defence, Chairman House Committee on Air Force, Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence, the Chiefs of Operation Army, Navy, Air Force;  Director  CMR,  Defence Headquarters; Defence Liaison Officer National Assembly, and  Director News, Nigeria Television Authority. Others include Legal Officer, Civil Liberties Organisation, the President Nigerian Labour Congress and some members of the public knowledgeable on the subject. Some questionnaires were administered to the civil populace on the subject matter.


(2) Secondary Sources of Data:   Secondary sources of data were books, newspapers, published and unpublished books and lectures as well as the internet. The researcher visited a number of libraries to have access to these materials. Libraries visited included the National Defence College (NDC), Armed Forces Command and Staff College (AFCSC) National Library Abuja Directorate of Intelligence Agency Library and Arewa House Kaduna.

c.          Method of Data Analysis:   The data collected through primary and secondary sources were quantitatively and qualitatively analysed.

d.         Method of Data Presentation: The data were presented in a simple quantitative form. Based on the analysis of the data collated, deductions were made leading to the assessment of CMR in Nigeria since return to democracy.





The study was limited by the researcher’s inability to track down some officers earmarked for interview. However, this was adequately taken care of through secondary sources and this did not affect the validity of the work. The study concentrated on the efforts made by both the political elites and the Armed Forces in fostering CMR since return to democracy.

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