Dr. Umar Ardo

It was during Shehu Shagari’s presidency that the Army Council recommended Buhari for promotion and posting as GOC. But the Minister of Defence then changed that recommendation and sent someone else’s name to President Shagari for approval. Somehow, Buhari got to know of this change and so he ran to his friend, Dr. Mahmud Tukur, from Adamawa State, and together, they approached the Supreme Court Justice who was a very close friend of President Shagari and begged him to intervene.

The Justice gave them a listening ear, and assured them that he’d take the matter up with the President and asked them to come back same time the next day. True to his word, the Justice went and put the issue before the President. Shagari confirmed to his friend that what Buhari and Dr. Tukur told him was indeed true, but he (the President) had already overruled the Defence Minister, reversed his recommendation and approved Buhari’s promotion and posting as GOC. So, the President told his Justice friend to go back and tell Buhari that his promotion and posting had been approved and that he should await the announcement shortly. The Justice went back with the good news.

The next day, at the appointed time, Buhari and Tukur returned to see the Justice and he told them what the President had done and asked them to await the formal announcement. And in a matter of a day or two, the announcement was made.

Now, this is the one side of the story; the other side is like this: On December 31, 1983, President Shagari’s government was overthrown in a military coup and Maj. Gen. Buhari became the new Head of State. Former President Shagari was arrested and put in detention. Now, Shagari had an elder brother, Alhaji Bello Magajin Shagari, who was at the time of the coup seriously sick and was lying at the State House Sick Bay. When Buhari took over, the new government removed Alhaji Bello from his sick bed and took him back to Sokoto and to Shagari village. Sadly, Bello Magajin died the next day.

The Justice friend of the deposed president rushed to Shagari village for the condolence. After all the rites were concluded, the Justice was delegated by the family to go to Lagos and beg the new regime to allow him see the condition of the detained former president and inform him of the demise of his brother. Banking on the divine doctrine of ‘one good turn deserves another’, the Justice left for Lagos and headed straight to Dr. Mahmud Tukur’s place, who was then Buhari’s Minister of Commerce. He told the Minister of his mission and requested him to intervene with the Head of State.

The minister went and saw Buhari and returned, and the answer was negative — Buhari did not approve the request. The Justice then begged Umaru Shinkafi, who went and saw Buhari and made the request for the Justice to be allowed to see Shagari and inform him of the death of his brother. Shinkafi saw the Head of State and put forth the request but it was again turned down. To cut a long story short, he never saw Shagari till Buhari was overthrown.

Having read these, and many more of such, I came to the inevitable conclusion that a person like that cannot ever make a good leader. It is natural therefore for reasonable people to oppose such a leadership and look out for an alternative. This is exactly what is going on in Nigeria today.

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