…The annulment of the freest and fairest presidential election in 1993 was one of the popular events attributed to the military ruler, General Ibrahim Babangida
Nigeria’s most arguably controversial military ruler, General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida clocks 79 today. IBB, as he is fondly called has history with the Africa’s largest oil producer as a result of his many ambivalent roles in shaping the destiny of this great country. IBB ruled Nigeria for eight years spanning from 27th August, 1985 to 26th August, 1993. His military rule was characterised with many historic events including relocating the Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja in December 12, 1991; the commissioning of the last phase of the nation’s longest and busiest bridge, Third Mainland Bridge on 17th August, 1990 and the annulment of the freest and fairest presidential election which business mogul and politician, MKO Abiola won in 1993 among other things.
Among his remarkable deeds was the creation of eleven states. On September 23, 1987, he created two states which were Akwa Ibom and Katsina. He further created nine more states on August 27, 1991 which included Abia, Enugu, Delta, Jigawa, Kebbi, Kogi, Osun, Taraba and Yobe. There are other pertinent stories attributed to him, and here are 3 remarkable one you should know.
BABANGIDA PLAYED ACTIVE ROLES IN NOTABLE COUPS THAT OUSTED HIS PREDECESSORS
Babangida as a Lieutenant witnessed the events of the bloody coup d’etat of 1996 which was believed to be targeted at Northern leaders. He then took part in the counter-coup in which General Aguiyi Ironsi was killed, and General Yakubu Gowon became the Head of State.
In 1975, Babangida as a Colonel was the Commander of the Amoured Corps that terminated the regime of General Yakubu Gowon and brought in General Murtala Mohammed through a bloodless coup. His brave action made him to be appointed as one of the youngest members of the Supreme Military Council on August 1, 1975.
After General Murtala Mohammed was murdered in a bloody coup, Babangida spearheaded the force that crushed the perpetrator in the name Lieutenant Colonel Buka Suka Dimka. This was what installed Major General Olusegun Obasanjo to be the Head of State.
Also in 1983, Brigadier General Babangida was the Director of Army Staff Duties and Plans who strategised the coup to overthrow the democratic government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, with the financial support from a businessman, MKO Abiola. General Muhammadu Buhari became the Head of State afterward, and Babangida was appointed the Chief of Army Staff.
On August 27, 1985, Babangida and his co-conspirators organised a palace coup to overthrow Buhari’s government, thereby making Ibrahim Babangida to be the Head of State.
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BABANGIDA ESTABLISHED ECONOMIC POLICIES TO REVAMP THE CRISIS-RIDDEN ECONOMY
General Babangida through the backing of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) known as the World Bank launched the Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) to salvage the economy that was plunged into a crisis between 1983 and 1985.
The policies worked in revitalising the economy. These policies included privatisation of public enterprises, deregulation of the agricultural sector, relaxation of restraints on foreign investment, and the devaluation of the Nigerian naira.
He was also popular for launching the Mass Mobilisation for Self-Reliance, Social Justice and Economic Recovery (MAMSER).
MAMSER was targeted to promote economic recovery and self-reliance by shunning affluent lifestyles, disseminating the importance of eschewing public vices and promoting social justice.
His administration completed and commissioned some capital projects in Nigeria such as dualisation of Kaduna-Kano expressway, Shiroro Hydroelectric Power Station, and also founded the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to manage Nigerian motorable roads effectively and efficiently.
BABANGIDA INCORPORATED DEMOCRACY INTO MILITARY REGIME
He was the only Military President in the history of Nigeria. He legalised the formation of the two-party system by establishing two political parties namely the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the National Republican Convention (NRC) for form the Third Republic.
In the 1992 Parliamentary Elections, the SDP won majority seats in the National Assembly. In the 1993 Presidential election, the SDP candidate, Chief MKO Abiola won in a landslide victory defeating his rival, Bashiru Tofa of NRC.
However, the country was thrown into tumult after he annulled the result of the presidential election, saying he did so based on the national security considerations. This started the agitation and clamour for the democratic rule as the country was laden with chaos and tension. There were a lot of criticisms and condemnations from local and international angles. This led to the reason he stepped down on August 26, 1993, and handed over power to the Interim National Government (INC) headed by Chief Ernest Shonekan.