The fear, entertained, in 1999 was that the military, having been in power for the last 29 out of the 33 years, would still continue to imperially dominate the political setting in the post military era which is – supposed to be a full civilian government.
The dread was further reinforced and fortified with the election of General Matthew Aremu Olusegun Okikiolu Obasanjo a former war hero, as President, coupled with the imposition of the 1999 constitution- a corrigenda full of errors and imperfections, without plebiscite or referendum.
Now 15 years after, that fear, seem to be vanishing and disappearing fast. As a matter of fact, gradually, the military seems not to be executors and projectors of our political destiny. Civilians are pushing them to be mere onlookers and bystanders. A passage in our body politics is about to close. It is either the military do not understand anything about party politics or the civilians have outsmarted them.
With the impeachment of Admiral Murtala Hamman Yero Nyako (rtd.) (72) as Governor of Adamawa State on July 15, only five Generals, elected under the new democratic dispensation, are now left on the political scene. I mean elected not appointed for we still have former military Generals around, on appointment.
They are Major General Muhammadu Magoro (rtd.) (73) representing Kebbi South constituency in the Senate, Major General David Alachenu Bonaventure Mark (rtd.) (66) the current Senate President, an Idoma Christian representing Benue South in the Senate, who incidentally was born in Zungeru in Niger State, Commodore(rtd.) David Jonah Jang (71), Governor of Plateau State, Rear admiral (rtd.) Gboribiogha John Jonah (60) deputy Governor of Bayelsa State and Major General (rtd.) Muhammed Saleh (59) representing Kaduna Central in the Senate.
Commodore Jang was Military Governor of Benue between 1985-1986 and Gongola state (now Adamawa State) between 1986-1987. He is serving a second term as Governor of Plateau State. Major General David Mark was chairman of Abandoned Properties Implementation Committee for the former Eastern Region now made up of 9 states after the civil war in 1969, member of the Armed Forces Ruling Council, 1986-1989, Military Governor of Niger State between 1984-1986 and Minister of Communication from 1987-1990. He has been representing Benue South Senatorial zone for the past 15years. He was elected Senate President of June 6 2007. Admiral Jonah deputy Governor of Bayelsa state, a naval Engineer from Nembe who was elected along with Governor Henry Seriake Dickson on February 14 2012.
General Magoro (NA435) entered our National consciousness in May 1985 as Minister of internal Affairs when he announced the expulsion of many West Africans including Ghanaians from Nigeria under Major General Muhammadu Buhari Regime. Over a million foreign Nationals were affected by the expulsion. In 1971, President Kofi Abrefu Busia (1930-78) of Ghana drove out over 1million Nigerians mostly Yorubas from Ghana due to the Economy downturn in that country. Now that the Economy of Ghana is down, we should not be surprised if President John Dramani Mahama(56) follows Busia’s example. General Magoro had earlier served as Minister for Transport under the Military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo in 1978 but was not a member of the Supreme Military Council then unlike his class mate General Ibrahim Babamosi Babangida (73).
After the overthrow of Major General Buhari’s government on August 27 1985 by General Babangida, General Magoro retired voluntarily from the Army. He was later appointed the head of the Nigerian Railways and the Nigerian Ports Authority. He later became the Chairman of Ocean and Oil Servicing Limited and the Chairman of Oando group in 2000, a Petroleum Marketing Company created through Privatisation of Unipetrol Nigeria Pl., in which Ocean and Oil Services bought a major share.
Tragedy struck him on March 24 1999 when his best friend who was the Iron Surgeon of the Major General Buhari’s era and Military Governor of Borno state in 1978, Major General Babatunde Abdulbaki Idiagbon (rtd.) (1943-1999) died suddenly in Ilorin after travelling from Abuja. Till today he is still mourning that tragedy
By calculation, he may not come back as second term Senator for personal reasons.
Admiral Murtala Nyako was the pioneer governor of Niger State when it was created from Sokoto State by General Murtala Muhammed in 1976. He served in that post until he handed over to Rear Admiral (rtd.) Ebitu Okoh Ukiwe (74) who is from Abriba in Imo state, in December 1977.
After leaving the Military he ventured into cattle and agricultural business just like his father Alhaji Hamman- Yero and his mother Hajia Maryam Daso. He later became the President of the Horticultural Crops Growers Association of Nigeria, the Practicing Farmers Association of Nigeria and the Apex Farmers Association of Nigeria. His farm, Sebore (EPZ) farm was the largest in the country and also owns the largest mango farm in the country transporting most of his products to Europe. In short he was a successful farmer. And so he was elected in April 2007 as governor of Adamawa state. He was impeached in July. Admiral Murtala Nyako is not alone. At 72 regrettably he is in exile. He may likely face treason charges for the satanic letter he wrote to the President on April 16 this year if he returns from exile.
Military officers elected between 1999 but who have lost out include, Lt. Col. (rtd.) Joseph Iorshnghar Akaagerger (58) Military Governor of Katsina State between August 1988 to May 1989. He represented Benue North in the Senate between 2004 and 2007. In the 2011 election having joined the AD, Action for Democracy, he was defeated by Chief Barnabas Andyar Iyorchia Germade (66) by 229682 to 143978 votes.
Major General Muhammed Chris Alli (rtd.) was Military Governor of Plateau State from 1985-1985 and was Chief of Staff of Nigeria Army from 1993-1994. President Obasanjo appointed him Administrator of Plateau state and served between May 18 2004 and November 18 2004.
Major General Olatunji Idowu Ishola Olurin(rtd.) (69) was Military Govrnor of Old Oyo state between September 1985 to July 1988. President Obasanjo appointed him Administrator Ekiti state between October 19 2006 and April 27 2007.
Rear Admiral Alabi Muhhamed Lawal (rtd.) (1946-2006) was appointed Military of Ogun state and served between December 1987 till August 1990. He was elected Governor Kwara state and served from May 1999 to May 2003. He died in London on November 6 2006
Major General Jonathan Babatunde Ogbeha (rtd.) (67) was the pioneer Military governor of Akwa Ibom State from September 1987 to July 30 1988. He later became the Military governor of old Bendel State between 1988 to 1990. He was elected Senator Kogi West between 1999 and 2007.
Brigadier General Olagunsoye Oyinlola (rtd.) (63) was appointed the Military governor of Lagos State between December 1993 to August 1996. He was elected governor of Osun State in 2007 and served till 2010 when the court of Appeal nullified his election on November 26 2010.
Major General John Nanzip Shagaya (rtd.) (71) was the former Minister of Internal Affairs. He was a member of Armed Forces Ruling from 1985 to 1989 before he became the ECOMOG field Commander and handed over to Major General Tunji Olurin (rtd) in September 1993. He was elected Senator Plateau North in May 2007 and served till 2011.
Major General Abubakar Tanko Ayuba (rtd.) (68) Served as Minister of Communications between 1985 and 1987 after which he became the Military Governor of Kaduna State between August 1990 and January 1992. He was elected Senator Kebbi South between 2007 and 2011.
Squadron leader Diepreye Solomon Peter Alamieyesigha (62) was elected governor of Bayelsa State in May1999 and served till December 2005 before he was impeached.
General Olusegun Obasanjo was elected President from May 1999 and served in that post till May 2007. On April 2 2012, out of frustration, he resigned as Chairman of the board of Trustees of the ruling PDP. He is gallant abroad but in Nigeria his long years in the service of the nation and his party are hardly mentioned these days. General Olusegun Obasanjo has been turned to a non-persona gratia, unacknowledged by the government that he made.
Please don’t count out the Generals yet, as we all know Generals are fighters and a fighter knows many ways. He who fights and runs away, live to fight another day. We may not see the last duel of the Generals yet in the political scene.
Past experience has taught us all never to underestimate the power and influence of the military and their spirit de-corps.
No doubt a passage is unfolding in our political system. Either it is for good or bad, only time will tell.
For years now our vocation was to blame most of our problems on the Military. Now the civilians are gradually taking complete control of the Political system. If the adventure fails the civilian political class will have no other body to blame except of course themselves. The nation will not forgive or forget them. We can see developments taking place in other parts of the world. Why should Nigeria be an exception?
Mr. Teniola, a veteran newspaperman was a former director in the Nigerian presidency. He writes from lagos.