The War Against Indiscipline (WAI)

In 1984 the National Council of State, during the administration of General Muhammadu Buhari and General Tunde Idiagbon launched its War Against Indiscipline (WAI) to “Correct the ills of society” it was meant to be a corrective response to social maladjustment within the country.

This measure, like President Shagari’s “ethical revolution” and Ministry of National Guidance reflected goals and aspirations designed to lead by example from the top down by the governing class.

Promotors of the WAI like Group Captain Sam Omeruah felt that the programme “should meaningfully begin with the leadership in various segments of society and must be extended down to the grassroots, to also include its introduction in mosques and churches, family units and schools. The Council finally approved that the programme should be launched by the Military governors in all the states of the federation and be vigorously pursued as an on-going policy”

General Muhammadu Buhari
General Tunde Idiagbon

Group Captain Sam Omeruah

The role of one-time Military Governor of Anambra State and three time Minister (Information, Social Development, Youth, Sports, and Culture) Samson Emeka Omeruah, may have been played down. He wrote the script on the War Against Indiscipline (WAI), and sold it to the government. The Government then commissioned him to effectively implement it to the latter. This he did. The nation initially would embrace WAI, leading to a reorientation of her moral ethics.

Sam Omeruah did not only preach moral rectitude among Nigerians, he practiced it as he was disciplined and had zero tolerance for corruption.

One of the measures initiated in the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) was the ethical revolution. This was basically a propaganda tool. The military government took steps to demonstrate their commitment to structural reform of social maladjustment and corruption.

In May 1985 a WAI brigade program was established to give a civilian face to the enforcement of WAI tenets and to create a force instilled with discipline and the tenets of WAI.

There were three levels of WAI: the first were primary school students called the Vanguard, the second were secondary school students called the Crusaders and the third were those above the age of eighteen years who were called Patriots

Nigerians queuing up before entering a bus

Part of the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) was the governments desire instill and control orderliness and respect for fellow Nigerians within the polity.

Instead of chaotic entry to buses at bus stops or jumping lines at airports or in banks, Nigerians were told to queue and wait their turn.

At some locations, uniformed men were on hand to enforce queuing.

Volkswagen MD, Wolfman Nadebusch seen decorating the WAI badge on an employee

Discipline in the work place – This phase was launched on May 1, and was an attempt to manage truancy, lateness, laziness and to improve work ethic and productivity.

Civil servants who were late for work were publicly humiliated by being forced to do “frog jumps”.

Punishment for late government workers

Part of the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) introduced an environmental sanitation measure. These measure were set up to clean private and public environments, it included a sanitation program to clear refuse and illegal structures in public.

Helping Mum keep the environment clean


Unfortunately, the outcome of the WAI was plagued with accusations of human rights abuse and not helping the crumbling economy.

WAI was initiated during a period of economic downturn and people were struggling to earn an income. Critics felt that the administration had a poor understanding of the depth of the country’s social and economic problems.

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