A former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (retd.), has blamed a former military dictator, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.), for the indiscipline in the armed forces.
Bamaiyi, in his new book, Vindication of a General, said a former Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (retd.), was the first Nigerian leader to encounter the problem of indiscipline in the armed forces.
He said that Gowon, however, made efforts to restore discipline in the armed forces.
“The efforts were successful until 1985, when General Babangida overthrew General Buhari and declared himself President,” Bamaiyi stated.
Bamaiyi also explained how Buhari’s removal by Babangida brought back indiscipline into the armed forces.
He stated, “I was then the Commander Officer Guards Battalion, Keffi. The unit was in charge of security for Abuja, and it handled General Buhari’s security anytime he was in Abuja. Discipline was thrown to the winds when General Babangida used majors to arrest Gen. Buhari, a head of state and a major general.
“These majors had known Babangida at the Defence Academy, and he mostly influenced their postings to the armoured corps. It was bad enough that junior officers were used to arrest a head of state, a major general, but these same majors were compensated by being appointed as military governors.”
According to him, under IBB, majors and lieutenant colonels were posted to states which were supposed to be governed by major generals and brigadiers.
“In the Army, majors are supposed to be company commanders in charge of 90 to 100 men, at best, they are battalion second-in-commands in charge of battalion training. They are supposed to run around in the field with soldiers in training,” he stated.
Explaining indiscipline under Babangida, he said, “As a result of their special relationship with President Babangida, these majors had free access to the President. It got to a stage that senior officers who wanted to see the President had to go through them.
“This made some of these officers arrogant and sometimes rude and they became uncontrollable. Eventually, this attitude spread to other officers, who were close to them.”
He said the indiscipline continued when Babangida stepped aside as President.
Bamaiyi added that IBB implemented one of the longest and “uncertain transition programmes in Nigeria’s history.”
He added, “After several false declarations, President Babangida’s military administration found itself under much pressure from within and outside the country to return power to civillians.”
He said Babangida’s successor, the late Sani Abacha, was expected to hand over to the winner of the June 12, 1993 presidential election, Chief Moshood Abiola.
Bamaiyi added, “Abacha did not do what MKO Abiola had expected him to do. What may not be clear to us until the fullness of time is the understanding between both generals Babangida and Abacha.”
Meanwhile, the pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, has said that Bamaiyi’s claim in the book has confirmed its suspicion about Abiola’s death.
The National Publicity Secretary of the group, Yinka Odumakin, in an interview “Bamaiyi’s claims in his book only corroborate our suspicions all along that Abiola’s death must have been aided and could not have been natural. The circumstances of his death clearly showed that a permanent solution was applied because the business mogul refused to relinquish his mandate.”
Afenifere renewed its call for an inquiry into Abiola’s death without further delay.
He stated, “Thank God, Abdulsalami Abubakar is alive with many of the actors in that sordid event.
“This country cannot and will not know progress until we appease the soul of MKO and bring closure to his death. What was mortal of him was buried but the scars and memories of his elimination are still with us and the ghost of Abiola walks all over a murderous country that often opens its land to swallow the blood of the innocent.
“We cannot ignore Bamaiyi’s comments as a member of the inner core of the forces that held Nigeria down in those five years of evil.”