African Journal of
Political Science and International Relations

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Pol. Sci. Int. Relat.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0832
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPSIR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 382


The Nigerian civil war, 1967-1970: A revolution?

  Falode Adewunmi James
Department of History and International Studies, Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos State, Nigeria. 
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 22 February 2011
  •  Published: 31 March 2011



The paper seeks to cast the Nigerian civil war of 1967 to 1970 within the mould of a revolution. In achieving this aim, the paper necessarily explores the theory of revolution and at the same time carries-out a comparative analysis of civil wars that later morphed into revolutions within the international political system. The Nigerian civil war has never been referred to as a revolution. Rather, the military coup d’état of January 15, 1966, a first in Nigeria’s history, has been erroneously referred to as the closest thing to a revolution in Nigeria. This paper will not only correct the misrepresentation, it will also establish the theoretical line that separate a revolution from a coup d’état. Thus, the central thrust of the paper is that as a revolution, the Nigerian civil war was meant to be a means to an end for Nigeria; the end being the attainment of nationhood for Nigeria. This conclusion is arrived at after careful and critical evaluation of the significant role revolution played in the formative years of some of the most successful nations within the international environment .The countries used in the course of the analyzes include the United States of America, France and Spain. Some of the theories of revolution that readily capture the essence of the Nigerian conflict are also highlighted.


Key words: Nigeria, civil war, revolution, nationhood.