From Tunde Suleman, Minna
Former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida has explained that he joined his bodyguards in the battle to crush the 1990 coup attempt by Major Gideon Okar contrary to general speculations that he ran away through a tunnel from Dodan Barracks.
He spoke at the weekend with reporters in a pre-birthday interview on the 1990 coup and brought open the puzzle that had remained secret for almost 25 years on how he escaped the bullets.
“I can remember fairly well that I have some loyal officers who were supposed to be protectors and bodyguards attached to me. Initially they said I should move and I told them no, I am not leaving the Dodan Barracks. But they remained hard up and much tense but very resilient. Later, I carried my family outside Dodan Barracks and then I joined my guards in the battle,” he said.
Babangida said he got in touch with the then Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Sani Abacha to plan a counter-offensive with loyal troops that swept away the coup plotters from Dodan Barracks
“So we went out of Dodan Barracks and went to a safe house where we got contact with loyal troops. May God bless Gen. Sani Abacha. General Abacha was then the Chief of Army Staff. We got in touch with him and told him what was happening and he came down we talked on what we should be doing or what we are going to do. We rallied round loyal troops and then I left my safe house and joined Abacha in his house and that was what happened”, he said.
Babangida said that he will continue to remain grateful to God for sparing his life on that particular day and on other days of similar life threatening incidents, adding that “those of us who participated in combat will say the same considering what happened to me in 1969 not even in 1990, some 21 years after. God helped me and I remained grateful to Him and grateful to all of you for the support”.
When asked to shed light on his origin, the former ruler took a swipe at those he call him a Yoruba man from Ogbomosho town because of his name ‘Badamasi’ insisting that he hails from Niger state
“The truth is that I hail from here Niger state. My parents were home between Wushishi and Minna. My grandparents travelled to settle down in this place and that tells it all. But there is nothing wrong being from any part of the country. But the truth is I hail from Niger state. My grandparents and great grandparents moved from somewhere to settle down here in Niger state. There are some who still call us settlers in Niger state; that we are not indigenes of the state because our grandparents came from somewhere. But having lived all my 74 years in Niger state I think I am more than qualified to be called indigene of Niger state”, he explained.
Babangida commend the federal government for identifying some of the problems in the country and called on the people to support President Buhari towards enhancing security of the nation and wiping out corruption.
He adding that there was the need for government to pursued vigorously its anti-corruption strategies to stamp out corruption and to bring to book those found culpable in stealing the commonwealth.
From Tunde Suleman, Minna