FORMER military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, has disagreed with critics of former President Goodluck Jonathan who described him as incompetent saying Jonathan was rather “inexperienced” rather than “incompetent.”
General Babangida who spoke with The Interview magazine in the December 2015 edition which is currently on sale argued that Jonathan who lost his re-election bid in March “is a very pleasant person” and that he believed the former president meant well for the country.
Asked about the perception that Jonathan is a good person but was “incompetent”, Babangida replied: “If you use inexperience, I will buy that.”
The retired general spoke on a wide range of issues, including the botched coup of 1990 and how his late wife, Maryam, woke him up in the middle of the night to alert him about the movement of troops at Dodan Barracks, which was the seat of power then. He denied that his life was saved by Sani Abacha, who was then the chief of army staff, and also denied reports that he hid in a bunker while the coup plotters were looking for him.
“They obviously didn’t have a lot of experience,” Babangida recalled. “It was during the fasting period. We were still in Dodan Barracks then. My wife got up from sleep and said she had noticed very unusual movement of troops from one end to the other. So she woke me up and said I should look through the window.
”I found troops moving from one end to the other. The next thing I heard was shooting going on. We tried to put a small party together. It was about 1.30am. Then the guards, the bodyguards said let’s check out of this place. I was a bit stubborn. I told them I was not leaving. It didn’t occur to me that we had a bunker at Dodan Barracks. We had, but it didn’t occur to me to use it. And so, they came. I said the only thing I would concede to, I would evacuate my family. My wife had her last born, who was just a few months old, with her. So they evacuated them to a safe house.
“So, I remained with a few bodyguards. We decided to get out and move around. We went to a safe house around Surulere. I had a bodyguard, Omuah. We just moved in there. From there, we established communication. I later established communication with Abacha, Raji Rasaki (who was governor of Lagos then) and the other. They had mobilised their troops.”
He maintained that “Abacha didn’t save my life in the Orkar coup. We worked together to crush Orkar’s coup.”