Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, said that he was ousted as head of state in 1985 by the then Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, because he was fighting corruption.
Buhari, who was the military head of state for 18 months, said this during an exclusive with The Interview Magazine.
He said the then Head of Military Intelligence, Aliyu Gusau, was allegedly involved in some sharp practices and he had recommended his sack from the military leadership.
The president said that the reason he insisted on Gusau’s removal was because he did not want his anti-corruption war to appear one-sided. However, he said Gusau, Babangida and other officers teamed up and staged a coup thereby ousting him from office.
Buhari said this while reacting to a December 2015 interview by Babangida in which he (Babangida) said the plan to remove Gusau had nothing to do with the 1985 coup.
“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,” Buhari said.
“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.”
Speaking on the 2016 budget fiasco, the President said he would ensure that such budget padding would never happen again, slamming critics who accused him of not having an economic team.
“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.” The president added.