■ President’s biographer reveals in new book
By Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
Real reason Gen Muhammadu Buhari (retd) was ousted as military head of state on August 27, 1985 has been revealed.
Widespread arrest of top politicians and high net worth individuals over alleged corruption -related issues, foggy economic situation occasioned by the dwindling oil prices were key factors that led to his removal as head of state by the military junta headed by Gen Ibrahim Babangida (retd). The revelation is contained in a recently launched book entitled: ‘Muhammadu Buhari: The Challenges of Leadership written by John Paden. The book has attracted attention for some controversial claims, including stories regarding the nomination of Prof Yemi Osinbajo as Vice presidential candidate to Buhari in the 2015 elections. Recalling Buhari’s first shot at the nation’s top office and the circumstance of his ouster, the book reads: “Overall, during the twenty months of Buhari’s term as head of state, around five hundred persons were jailed for corruption, often for long terms.”
“Many of these were businessmen. Although these measures were clearly popular at a grassroots level, those jailed had networks that would ultimately undo the Buhari administration.”
Further excerpts of the book reads: “Buhari’s most significant economic measure, however, had to be kept a secret, even from his military colleagues in the cabinet until it was announced. (The only cabinet member who knew was Chief of Staff Tunde Idiagbon.) It was the decision to issue new currency…”
“People had two weeks to convert old currency for new. Up to N400,000 could be traded at any bank with no questions asked. Above that amount, currency could be exchanged but the original source of fund had to be demonstrated. This process was a direct attack on the corruption that had flourished during the Second Republic. But it may also have been a tipping point for those who were willing to strike back at Buhari.” “Many in the military had links to businessmen feeling the effects of Buhari’s anti-corruption measures and splits in the army were already appearing. By the time Buhari had concluded a nationwide tour in 1985, rumours were spreading of a palace coup being organized by some in the military leadership with fingers in the business world. The sense of instability was made worse by a decline in oil prices”.
The book admitted that the relationship between Buhari and Babangida had been tensed for several years. It however, submitted that the tension had been toned down as a result of old age. “The earlier tension between Buhari and Babangida has gradually been diffused. Gen Babangida is now elderly and spends most of his time with his doctors in Germany”, the author wrote.