President Muhammadu Buhari may be stirring the hornets’ nest on Sunday when he revealed that he was booted out of office on August 27, 1985 by the then Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, because he was on the verge to purge the military hierarchy of corruption.
Buhari, who has continued to exhibit an uncompromising verve in the war against corruption, specifically pointed a finger at Babangida and another of his top subordinate in the Army then, General Aliyu Gusau, as arrowheads, who toppled his military government in August 1985 to save themselves from his wrath.
Babangida had told The Interview in its December edition that there was nothing in the memo which Buhari said he submitted to the Army council.
“Don’t forget that I was one of Buhari’s closest aides. I was the chief of army staff. So, I had an important position, an important role to play within that administration. I don’t think it had to do with a memo,” Babangida said.
However, in an exclusive interview published in the current edition of The Interview magazine, Buhari challenged both Babangida and Gusau to tell the truth on why they carried out the coup against him.
In a statement on www.theinterview.com.ng, the Managing Director/Editor-in-chief of The magazine, Azu Ishiekwene, said, “This is one edition that won’t let sleeping dogs lie.”
Buhari was quoted as saying: “I learnt that Gen. Ali Gusau, who was in charge of intelligence, took an import licence from the Ministry of Commerce, which was supplies, and gave it to Alhaji Mai Deribe. It was worth N100, 000, a lot of money then.
“When I discovered this, I confronted them and took the case to the army council. Gen. Malu was the Chief of Defence Staff; Gen. Babangida was the Chief of Army Staff; Tunde Idiagbon was the Chief of Staff, Defence Headquarters and I was the Head of State.
“I said if I didn’t punish Gusau, it would create a problem for us. It is North versus South; majority versus minority; Muslim versus Christian. That was what it showed.
“So, I said Gen. Ali Gusau had to go. He was the Chief of Intelligence. That was why Babangida got some officers to remove me. Let him repeat his own story. Ali Gusau is still alive.”
He also slammed critics who accused him of not having an economic team.
Buhari said, “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 came into power on December 31, 1983, after he and his loyalists overthrew the government of Shehu Shagari.
Two years later, on August 27, 1985, Buhari’s rule was ended by Babangida in a coup.