Ishaya Bamaiyi, a former chief of army staff, has said former heads of state, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdusalami Abubakar, supported the emergence of Olusegun Obasanjo as Nigeria’s president in 1999 in a bid to control him.
He said the duo erroneously thought Obasanjo was still the same as he was in 1979 when he served as head of state.
He revealed in his book ‘Vindication of a General’ that Babangida’s main objective was to succeed Obasanjo after a four-year term.
Bamaiyi, who was chief of army staff between 1996 and 1999, said Theophilus Danjuma, ex-minister of defence, Aliyu Dusau, a former national security adviser, as well as Babangida and Abdusalami engineered the plan to make Obasanjo president.
“Unknown to me, Gen. Abubakar had already committed himself to Generals Babangida, T.Y.Danjuma and Aliyu Gusau on General Obasanjo’s coming in to take over from him. A proposal I totally objected to, which I told Generals Abubakar, TY Danjuma and Aliyu Gusau in very clear terms. My stand did not go (down) well with the generals and General Abubakar started feeling unsafe,” he wrote.
“He was supported by some northern generals, who believed one of them would take over from Obasanjo after one term of four years. It was alleged that Obasanjo had promised Gen. Babangida that he would succeed him.
“General Abubakar prepared and handed over his (handover) report to Gen. Obasanjo’s team, dated June 1998. This means that he prepared the report as soon as he was sworn in as the commander-in-chief in June 1998.
“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 that they saw Obasanjo as a political novice they would manipulate. They never thought they would meet a different Obasanjo from the one they had known in 1979.”
Bamaiyi said he chose to support Olu Falae, the presidential candidate of Alliance for Democracy, over Obasanjo.
“When I discovered that some people were pushing for a president from the South-West, I asked a friend, Dr. Frank Adejuwon, a minister in the Abacha cabinet, to contact Chief Falae and bring him to Abuja.
“I took Falae to Gen. Abubakar and told him that Falae was a very good candidate, if the presidency had to go to the South-West. I believe Gen. Abubakar briefed Obasanjo, which led to an unforgiving Obasanjo developing actual hatred as far as I am concerned,” he wrote.