Tuesday, 12 January 2016

The Six Reasons Why Buhari Was Overthrown By General Babangida In 1985

On the 27th of August, 1985, a coup d’etat was in operation in the Federal Republic of Nigeria against the military regime of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari. An interesting thing about this coup was that the head of state was overthrown
when he was in a holiday mood, just like his predecessor, Alhaji Shehu Shagari whom he had also overthrown on the 31st of December 1983 when the president and the nation were all in a celebratory mood, enjoying his holiday at the Akinola Aguda House in Abuja, ready to usher in the New Year. In the August of 1985 when he was overthrown, the nation was on a public holiday, enjoying the Muslim Eid-el-Maoulud festival. The last thing anyone expected was a coup.

The number two strongman of the dictatorial junta and the Chief of Staff of the Supreme Headquarters, Major-General Tunde Idiagbon, was away in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a holy pilgrimage. As a result, the coup was bloodless and the coup plotters gave their reasons for overthrowing Buhari. That is what Abiyamo is bringing to you today in this piece of history.

  Shortly after the coup, Joshua Nimyel Dogonyaro, a brigadier-general in the Nigerian Army (later a lieutenant-general) came on radio in Lagos to announce to the whole world that Buhari has been overthrown. Speaking on behalf of his enraged colleagues, he said that in addition to the overthrow of the Buhari regime, the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the Federal Executive Council (FEC) and the National Council of States (NCS) were all dissolved with immediate effect. He gave the following reasons for the overthrow of the Buhari regime:

1 The expectations of Nigerians for a progressive change in the living standards were not being fulfilled.

2 While the problems left by the civilian administration of Shagari were enormous, that the slow pace of action by the Buhari administration was lack of unanimity of purpose among the ruling body.

3 That the Supreme Military Council had ‘progressively been made redundant by the actions of a select few members charged with the day-to-day implementation of SMC policies and decisions’, and that efforts to advise the leadership had met with stubborn resistance.

4 The misdirected effort of the government started to drift.

5 The economy was not improving.

6 The government distanced itself from the yearnings and aspirations of the people.

The broadcast by General Dogonyaro continued periodically until when it was interrupted midway by the cold and distant voice of the General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Ibadan-based 2nd Mechanized Division of the Nigerian Army, a major-general named Sani Abacha. He announced that a new government had been formed and General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida had been invited to come and head it. By the time Babangida would give his maiden address, he would do something that no other military head of state had done in the country: he announced that he was assuming the full powers of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces.

Other military leaders before him had assumed other powers apart from that of the President but Babangida went a step ahead by arrogating all the powers to himself, effectively crowning himself. He also informed the entire nation that the deposed leader, General Buhari and other members of his government had been placed in ‘protective custody’, a euphemism for being jailed in a military facility. Buhari and his deputy Idiagbon would later languish in prison for years before he was finally released by Babangida. Today, Buhari has assumed full powers as the Executive President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Whether Babangida will be placed in ‘protective custody’ under the Buhari presidency, only time will tell but that is definitely the enduring dream of millions of Nigerians.


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