A former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Ishaya Bamaiyi (Rtd) has revealed that former President Olusegun Obasanjo was brought in as president to pave way for General Ibrahim Babangida’s return as president after Obasanjo’s tenure.
Bamaiyi in his book "Vindication of a General" said the issue of who would take over from former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar was never discussed at the Provisional Ruling Council (PRC) but he ‘later found out that Generals Babangida and Aliyu Gusau (former NSA) went several times to see General Abubakar and convinced him to support General Obasanjo’s candidacy."
He revealed that "this was not done because they liked Obasanjo but because of the ambition of General Babangida to return as president after Obasanjo’s tenure.
"I believe they saw Obasanjo as a political novice they could manipulate. They never thought they would meet a different Obasanjo from the one they had known in 1979.”
Bamaiyi said his position that the Abubakar regime should "have a clean break by handing over power to someone without a military background" made Abubakar to become unsafe because unknown to him, Abubakar had already committed himself to Generals Babangida, TY Danjuma and Aliyu Gusau on Gen. Obasanjo coming in to take over as the democratically elected president.
He said whatever Nigeria went through between 1999 and 2007 "was the handiwork of these people who brought Obasanjo, including General T.Y. Danjuma, who is said to have threatened leaving the country if Obasanjo was not made president."
Bamaiyi said his opposition to the emergence of Obasanjo as Nigeria’s president in 1999 was based on his conviction that Nigerians were tired of military rule.
He said when General T.Y. Danjuma appealed to him to support Obasanjo’s presidential ambition, he told him he "didn’t see the difference between the present military rule (Abubakar’s) and the coming of another military man. I concluded that even if he (Danjuma) were the one contesting to be president, I would not support him."
The former army chief said when he heard that "individuals who offended the southwest especially with the annulment of the election won by Chief MKO Abiola, wanted to produce a president from the southwest, I decided to take Chief Olu Falae to Gen. Abubakar, and only Abubakar and I discussed this issue."
He added: "I believe Gen. Abubakar briefed Obasanjo, which led to an unforgiving Obasanjo developing actual hatred as far as I was concerned…
"As soon as Obasanjo took over, Gen. Abubakar and some of his people told Obasanjo that if I were left free, I would overthrow Obasanjo’s government."
These reasons he said set the stage for his incarceration for eight years.