A former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (retd), has said that he narrowly escaped attempts to retire him from the Nigerian Army on many occasions before he eventually became head of state in 1998.
Speaking in an interview with Daily Trust TV, the former head of state said despite his relationship with the late Head of State, General Sani Abacha, some members of Abacha’s inner caucus wanted him retired from the military.
He said, “Like I said, right from the day when he (Abacha) became head of state, there were people who were very uncomfortable with some of us and wanted to weed us out but as luck will have it, he stuck to his gun; he refused to retire me and some others who went along with him.
“I know there was a lot of pressure for example for him to retire people like late General Haladu, late General Duba and General Useni, me inclusive, and some other people but fortunately some of us escaped that scheme.
“So I think our relationship with General Abacha went back to our school days and it continued when we found ourselves in the military and by coincidence, during the Civil War, we found ourselves fighting in the same brigade.
“I think he was commanding 95 battalion then; I was commanding 84 battalion under 9 Brigade commanded by late General Shehu Yar’adua. So we were operating in the same theatre during the war. Actually, this bonded our relationship more and more.”
General Abubakar, who is credited with the execution of the shortest transition to a civilian administration in Nigeria, also spoke on wide-ranging issues including the drama that preceded his emergence as head of state, the death of Abacha and Abiola and why he chose not to join politics after retirement.