By J.K. Randle
President Muhammadu Buhari has already fired the first salvo by reminding us of the epochal event that changed the history of our country and re-configured the economic/social trajectory of our beloved nation on 27th August 1985. He was removed by his military colleagues in what was termed a “bloodless” coup d’etat (an obvious contradiction in terms). Here is the witness statement:
“President Muhammadu Buhari has disclosed that he was removed from office on August 27, 1985 by the then Chief of Army Staff who later became military president, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, because he was planning to purge the military hierarchy of corruption.
The President, who was the military head of state for 18 months, stated this during an exclusive interview with The Interview magazine that senior military officials led by Babangida and General Aliyu Gusau, staged a coup against him in August 1985 to save themselves from his wrath.
He said that Aliyu Gusau, who was the then Head of Military Intelligence had been recommended for sack from the military leadership.
Buhari said the reason he insisted on Gusau’s removal was because he did not want his anti-corruption war to appear one-sided.
He however stated that Gusau, Babangida and other officers teamed up and staged a coup, thereby ousting him from office.
The President spoke while reacting to a December 2015 interview by Babangida in which he (Babangida) said the plan to remove Gusau had nothing to do with the 1985 coup.
Speaking on the 2016 budget fiasco, the President said he would ensure that such budget padding would never happen again.
While replying critics who accuse him of not having an economic team, he asked: “What do they mean by team?
“The Vice-President heads our Economic Management Team. You have a finance minister, a budget and planning minister; a minister of trade and industry and investment; a governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, a national economic adviser and others and yet some people still ask for a team.
We will listen to everybody but we are averse to economic teams whose private sector members frequently steer government policy to suit their own narrow interests rather than the overall national interest,” Buhari declared.”
Many had expected that General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida [IBB] who succeeded General Buhari would seize the occasion of his 75th Birthday on 17th August 2016 to provide a comprehensive response to the issues raised by General Buhari.
Instead, IBB “stepped aside”!! Nevertheless, he nuanced: “If I should start to talk” That was clearly the message between the lines of the widely publicised interviews he gave the press who turned up in large numbers to celebrate with him in his Hilltop residence in Minna, Niger State.
Equally intriguing was the congratulatory message from Buhari to Babangida which read as follows:
“President Muhammadu Buhari has sent congratulatory message to former Head of State, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida on his 75th birthday.
In a short letter titled “Happy Birthday To General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida”, Buhari congratulated the former dictator.
He prayed Allah to grant him “many more years to see Nigeria grow and develop beyond all of our wildest dream.”
The letter is captured below:
General Ibrahim B. Babangida, GCFR, Mni
1 IBB Road,
Uphill Villa, Minna,
HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO GENERAL IBRAHIM BADAMASI BABANGIDA
On behalf of myself, my family, the government and people of Nigeria, I wish to heartily congratulate you on the milestone of attaining 75 years.
I equally wish to congratulate you on your service to the country, and your commitment to oneness and indivisibility of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
There is hardly any major episode in Nigeria’s short history where your name and contribution do not feature.
On this special occasion, I pray that Almighty Allah grants you many more years to see Nigeria grow and develop beyond all of our wildest dream.
Between the lines, a clear message: “If I should start to talk.”
We have a huge problem on our hands. If the two principal characters in that dramatic episode of our nation’s history are unwilling to talk, who are we to talk? Inevitably, the vacuum which has emerged will be filled by future historians who may feel at liberty to write whatever takes their fancy or is conjured up by less than diligent pursuit of intellectual curiosity. As for the intellectuals with whom our nation is abundantly blessed, they may have misread the poignant verdict of Albert Einsten:
“Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.”
However, among those who are eminently qualified to talk both as an intellectual and an eye-witness is Professor Isawa Elaigwu, who lectured both Buhari and Babangida at the Nigeria Defence Academy, Kaduna (where Babangida was an instructor) as well as the War College.
The arrest of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari was handled by three officers.
One of the officers who participated in the arrest of then Head of State, and current President, Muhammadu Buhari, during a military coup on August 27, 1985, Abdulmumini Aminu, has stated that contrary to claims, he and his colleagues never handcuffed Mr. Buhari upon arrest.
Mr. Aminu, a retired Colonel of the Nigerian Army, also said in an interview with Daily Trust on Sunday that contrary to popular belief, he was the one who led a team of three Army officers to arrest Buhari.
There are speculations that Mr. Buhari was arrested by the Immediate past National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, during the coup that saw the emergence of Ibrahim Babangida as military president.
“I must confess that I led that operation. I went to Dodan Barracks that time in company of two other officers – then Major John Madaki and Lawan Gwadabe. Three of us went, but specifically I was the one that went upstairs to bring Buhari,” Mr. Aminu said.
The retired colonel, who was also a one- time military administrator of Borno State, denied mistreating Buhari while arresting him.
He said he had and still has deep respect for him and that he still remains an admirer of the President and could not therefore have shown him any disrespect.