|Seyi Oduyela||Tuesday, August 24, 2004|
Hyattsville, MD, USA
ANNOUNCE THIS ARTICLE TO YOUR FRIENDS
OWNERS OF NIGERIA (II)
Alhaji Shehu Shagari ordered the withdrawal of the troops but the General Officer Commanding the 3rd Armoured Division of the Nigerian Army, based in Jos knew it was not a wise decision to take, he declined until he was ordered by the Chief of Army Staff, then General Wushishi, the GOC reluctantly withdrew his men and that marked the beginning of the end of Alhaji Shehu Shagari's government. This man was General Muhammadu Buhari.
The support of all officers was needed and this group led by Buhari set out to get as many people as they could to their side. There was a man they needed and someone was sent to him. Domkat Bali was the man and the man who went to discuss the coup possibility was Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. Bali had told Babangida to still give the politicians time to sort themselves out; but after the 1983 election, Buhari met with Bali on the latter's way to Langtang, he raised the issue of the coup again, it was then it became clear to Bali that Babangida was just delivering message, Bali of course consented and few days later, they struck.
One thing that was not clear to Buhari and others was that there was another coup within their own coup. The position of the Chief of Army Staff was for Bako, the man who was to deliver Shagari, but Babangida was also interested in that same position. He knew why he wanted it. It was to position himself for eventual take over from Buhari. All the General Officers Commanding report to the Chief of Army Staff, that was the chain of command before 1985. They do not report to the Head of state or President directly, and to succeed in any coup, you need these GOCs, since they are in direct contact with the soldiers and whatever may be needed for the coup, in terms of troops, weapons and ammunitions. To displace Bako, a plan was hatched to bring someone in to coordinate the coup in Abuja, the man now a Senator was recalled from Harare where he was serving, though he was to coordinate the coup in Abuja, his actual mission was to stop Bako.
At the early stage of the coup planning, Ibrahim Babangida was sent to General Domkat Bali, to feel the latter's pulse. Bali advised him to give the civilian time to sort themselves out. To Bali it was Babangida who was planning the coup, but it dawned on him that Babangida was not the man behind the coup but an errand boy. He was on his way to Langtang and he stopped over to say hi to the GOC 3rd Armoured Division, Jos, Buhari was the GOC and it was then that Buhari now asked Bali again if it was time to strike, this is about the end of 1983 and Bali said yes. They struck and Shagari was removed. Bali was in that government, though he was the most senior officer, Babangida was made the Chief of Army Staff.
Some of Babangida's seniors were forced to retire because they could not stand him being their chief, but they paid dearly for it.
Zamani Lekwot was one of them, and this was why he was arrested for the Sango Kataf crisis, he was roped into the crisis by IBB to get even with the man. Thank God Zamani Lekwot is still alive to tell his stories.
As Chief of Army Staff, he was able to win some of the GOCs; Abacha was the GOC 2nd Mechanised Division, Ibadan then. He used the office judiciously. But before the Buhari coup, when Shagari took over, Babangida and some Northern officers had advised against leaving Alani Akinrinade as Chief of Army Staff, to them, it was not safe for Shagari, the Grade II teacher and Nigeria's first (s)elected Executive President knew nothing, he was advised to ease out Akinrinade. How did they achieve this?
The position that never existed in the history of the Nigerian Army was created and after their aim was achieved it was scrapped. Shagari asked Akirinade to write a blue print on duties of a Chief of Defence Staff a new position to be created; the unsuspecting Akinriande did not know he was preparing his new office. He was later made the Chief of Defence Staff. With Akinrinade's promotion to redundancy, Gen Jalo, now late, became the Chief of Army Staff. Something happened that never happened in the history of the Nigerian Army and did not happen there after. The post of a Deputy Chief of Army Staff was created and General Wushishi was appointed as the Deputy Chief of Army Staff. Babangida led the group of those who contrived the concept of the D-COAS.
Having being isolated, Lt. Gen. Alani Akinrinade retired and Jalo was made the Chief of Defence Staff while Wushishi became the COAS and the position of D-COAS was scrapped. Ironically, the same Babangida who schemed out Akinrinade now invited him back to serve in his government and surprisingly Akinrinade accepted.
When Buhari took over power at gun point, it was their thinking that Nigerians need a change of attitude. War Against Indiscipline was launched. We were to queue at bus stops, public places, it became an offence to litter, urinate in the public. A day was set aside monthly for environmental sanitation. Buhari/Idiagbon thought of addressing the problem of inflation created by Shagari and his army of politicians, this they did by changing the currency and those who have stolen money could not bring them out. Many of them at the time were in detention, they lost it all. But with a government, getting Nigeria out of external debt, changing the psyche of Nigerians and raising hope of a better and disciplined citizenry, what could bring about its ouster? Babangida, Abacha, Joshua Dongoyaro, Abubakar Umar, Abdul Mumini, Tanko Ayuba, Tunde Ogbeha, David Mark, Lawan Gwadabe and others that I cannot remember have answers to this question.
In 1985 August, Babangida using the crop of Mid-riff officers struck and took over power from Buhari. Why they struck is still sketchy but we know some of those who supported the take over then. One prominent name and personality was late Chief M.K.O Abiola, he supported the coup morally and financially and he benefited immensely from it. Col. Abubarkar Umar, Abdulmummini, Gwadabe were among the mid-riff officers used, they were Majors; there was Tunde Ogbeha and David Mark now Senators. They played prominent roles in the ouster of Buhari's government. The best military government so far in the history of Nigeria. This is subject to debate and it is open. If we compare the Buhari's government to Babangida we know that the difference is clear. While one succeeded in instilling discipline in Nigerians, the other encouraged it and institutionalised corruption. I wonder why Col. Abubakar Umar served Babangida's government for that long seeing all that happened, the stealing, looting, killings, annulment of June 12 1993 elections and still has the moral gut to write to Obasanjo, leaving out Babangida. This is my problem with Umar. In as much as I would have respected his views on Obasanjo, I think he is guilty of double standard. He knew what happened on June 12, he was part of it, let him come out and tell us. He has no excuse to have served under one of the world's adjudged worst military government in Nigeria and he feels he is democratic. He owes Nigerians the duty of telling them what happened during the June 12, why sparing Babangida and taking on Obasanjo.
It was Joshua Dogonyaro who announced the coup. Which was a blessing to the politicians, some of Babangida's friends and one of his very good friends, Aliyu Mohammed Gusau. Of course MKO Abiola supported the coup because he fell out of favour with the Buhari/Idiagbon government. It was part of Buhari/Idiagbon government's policy that the Oku-Igboku Newsprint Company must be patronised and no Newspaper publisher should import newsprint from overseas. MKO imported newsprints and they were seized by the Buhari/ idiagbon government.
At the inception of the Buhari/Idiagbon government a panel was set up to probe the rice importation scandal and the person behind it turned out to Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, Shagari's Director of Military Intelligence. This earned him retirement from the military. As soon as Babangida came in, Gusau was reinstated. It never happened before Gusau and after him. The information that nailed Gusau was released by Rafindadi, the Nigeria Security Organisation Director who took over from Umar Shankafi under Shagari. Shinkafi, being aware of the plot to topple Shagari, and for some reasons known to him, tendered his resignation letter on health ground, but never hinted Shagari of the plot. Rafindadi was then appointed, Rafindadi is a Daura man like Buhari, and it was easy for them to plot the coup, since they now have their man as NSO Director. But Rafindadi paid for letting the information on Gusau out. Gusau while under Shagari had got a $1m importation license for rice. And when Babangida came in, Rafindadi was arrested, and detained for a long time. Hence his appearance at the Oputa panel, Babangida and Gusau knew what Rafindadi would have revealed to the whole world and that explained why they didn't show up.
When he took over power in 1985, he withdrew the oversight function of the Chief of Army Staff on the GOCs to his office and made Abacha the Chief of Army Staff. Abacha was just there without control on the GOCs. The GOCs were directly responsible to the Head of State.
As soon as he took over power, Babangida opened up a debate on the political ideology Nigeria wanted, money was spent, and the Political bureau went round the country. Nigerians, according to the Political Bureau's findings wanted Socialism, but Babangida said he was not ready to impose an ideology on Nigerians. What about the IMF debate? We debated and he said, no,but what we got was IMF through the back door in the name of Structural Adjustment Programme. We have not recovered from the adjustment. It was adjustment from good to bad, wealth to penury, sqalour. The man-Evil Genius changed our lives. It became unlawful to serve in government without stealing. You must steal as a government official and no one will arrest you. It was Babangida who made the likes of Bolaji Akinyemi. Professor Bolaji Akinyemi is closely related to Sonny Okogwu Marayam Babangida's elder brother. In actual fact, Sonny Okogwu once lived with Bolaji Akinyemi's father. It was through this that he met Babangida which eventually gave him the NIIA job and eventually the Foreign Affairs Minister job. Mike Okhai Akhigbe, the king pin of the illegal bunkering mafia, also benefited from Babangida. Olabode George, the loud mouth of PDP, chairman of Nigeria Ports Authority and the Vice Chairman of PDP SouthWest, also benefited from Babangida. Did he know anything about Bola Ige's death? Ask Atiku, it is pity Sunday Afolabi is dead, we would have asked him too.
In 1986 after the alleged coup plot of Mamman Vatsa, Babangida began the demobilization of the Nigerian Air Force. He actually wanted to scrap it and merge it with the Airborne of the Nigerian Army, but stopped for Ibrahim Alfa's sake. Ibrahim Alfa was the Chief of Air Staff and played a prominent role in the removal of Buhari and Idiagbon. It was Alfa who went with Idiagbon to Mecca on Hajj. It was part of their plan to execute the coup when Idiagbon would not be around, so at the Supreme Military Council Meeting, Alfa and others joined in voting Idiagbon as the head of the Federal Government delegate to the Hajj and Alfa had to go with him to monitor him there. So IBB had to respect him and left the Air force untouched but redundant. The Air force personnel were only in uniform but empty in terms of tools. This lasted up to Abacha's era. Babangida did it because of the fact that Mamman Vatsa and his group were alleged to have planned to use the AirForce to take over power in 1986.
What happened to Nigerian educational system? What was behind the introduction of the so-called 6-3-3-4? What role did Jubril Aminu play in Babanigida's government, what about the April 20, 1990 revolution? Chief Obafemi Awolowo died in 1987. What killed him? They said heart attack. Is this true? On 26 September, 1992, Nigeria lost a generation of mid-riff officers in the C-130 plane crash. Who dunnit? What about the families of those who died in the crash?
The story continues……….