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The Fall of the First Republic

In popular discourse, Nigeria’s First Republic is often portrayed as an untarnished Eden; the archetype of an ethical, developmental, democratic and stable polity. How accurate is this picture?
2016 invited reflections on a seminal moment in Nigerian history. The year marked 50 years since the violent collapse of the ‘First Republic’ – Nigeria’s first democratic polity[1].

The First Republic lasted from the 1st of October 1960[2], when Nigeria became independent, to the 15th of January 1966, when a section of the army mutinied, abducted and killed the federal Prime Minister, Finance Minister and several other senior political office holders and military officers, in an attempted coup d’├ętat – or “military revolution”[3], as the mutineers termed their action.  Despite its short life and bloody demise, a warm afterglow still bathes our reflections of that turbulent polity five decades after it passed into history.
Illustrating the general tendency to idealise the First Republic and its pol…
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