(AA) – Nigeria’s army chief Alex Badeh said on Thursday that the era of military rule is over in the country, reiterating commitment to democratic rule.
“The era of military rule is gone forever in this country,” Badeh told a delegation from Nigeria’s National Peace Committee during a visit to the defense headquarters in capital Abuja.
“I fact if there was military rule I am not sure if I could have been here,” he said.
“We are the armed forces of Nigeria and not that of any political party and will be subordinate to the constituted authorities,” the army chief said.
Badeh said the army’s involvement in last month’s election was to guarantee safety and not to meddle in political affairs or rig the polls.
“We want to say that Nigerian Armed Forces have been participating in the past elections and there were no much misgivings,” he said.
“We as service chiefs were beneficiaries of democracy because we were confirmed by the National Assembly,” he added, apparently in rejection of claims that soldiers had been deployed to help the ruling party to rig polls.
“We will replicate even better what we did last elections,” he said. “I am sure we can do better than what we did last time and at least get another pat on the back.”
Nigeria has a history of brutal military rule, beginning from January 15,1966 when a group of soldiers assassinated the country’s Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and other mostly northern political office holders.
The lopsidedness of the coup and the deaths of mostly northern politicians set the stage for the counter coup of July 1966 which claimed the lives of military ruler Aguiyi Ironsi, a southeasterner, and others.
The military rule continued until 1979 when the country held general elections.
The civilian rule was again truncated by another military rule in 1983, setting the stage for over three decades of army rule that truncated only in 1999.
Last month, opposition candidate Muhammadu Buhuri won Nigeria’s presidential election, defeating incumbent Goodluck Jonathan.