The Military and Accumulation
As the ultimate instrument of coercion, the army was not only the institution over which the colonial administration was last to relinquish formal control, it was also the last to be “indigenized”. At the time of independence in 1960, only 17 per cent of the officer corps of the army was Nigerian. The top command was almost exclusively British. This slow rate of indigenization is in sharp contrast to what obtained either in the police force or in the public services, both of which at that period had been more or less completely indigenized with Nigerians holding the top offices. One result of the slow rate of “localization” of the personnel of the army was to place it at the lower end of prestige rankings of occupations by Nigerians. As an occupation, the army offered fewer and less attractive prospects to Nigerians than the other services or professions. It was therefore the last choice for most Nigerians and those with any ability or academic qualifications avoided it. Those who sought recruitment into the army therefore came to be those who were unable to obtain or were incapable of obtaining alternative forms of employment. Given the educational differential between the North and the South, it was therefore to be expected that most of those who sought a career in the army would be from the North, and even here, the majority came from the riverain areas — the so-called Middle Belt — of the North since in the “far” or “dry” North, the Hausa/Fulani/Kanuri areas, the barely literate found a ready employment in the Native Authorities (NA).
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.