Former Military President, Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, said that Buhari’s government was overthrown in 1985 because there was frustration in the society under his regime.
Babangida stated this in an interview he granted to a team from Zero Tolerance (ZT), a quarterly magazine published by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The circumstances surrounding your emergence as military president in 1985, some people believe that it was more of self-preservation than national interest. Can you tell us what happened?
IBB: First of all, we planned a coup towards the end of 1983 that truncated the democratically elected government and the military government came in January 1984. Then that government also suffered the same fate as the democratic government when the military staged one of the finest coup in this country, because there was no blood, nothing was lost, smooth and everybody was treated with the most civility and our administration came. When we came in August of 1985 there was a plan to kick us out in December 1985, it didn’t work, they went into operation again in 1990. I think the country was going through a phase at that time, it’s a developing country and we always had one reason or the other for doing what we did at that time.
But the talk at that time was that there was a rift between you and Buhari and he wanted to dismiss you from the Army.
IBB: No, let me give you a lesson today. A coup or change comes about if there is frustration in the society. Just get that right. There was frustration in the society between 1984 to 1985. The ground was fertile for a coup. It wasn’t fertile, thanks be to God, in December, 1985 when the first attempt on me was made. Neither was it fertile in April 1990 when the second attempt was made and we had the support of all of you sitting down here. You write, you analyze, you talk, and you demonstrated. It was not unusual then to hear, in the case of the democratically elected government in1983, a common phase was ‘the worst military regime is better than this government’. So you were giving us the impetus to stage a coup. We are not dummies. If we didn’t have the support of all of you, we wouldn’t venture into it.