EXCLUSIVE: Inside America’s damning verdict on Murtala Muhammed, Obasanjo after 1975 coup

Late. Murtala Mohammed [Photo credit: www.vozafric.com]
Late. Murtala Mohammed [Photo credit: www.vozafric.com]

For nearly half a century after his stint as Nigeria’s military leader, Murtala Muhammed remained widely regarded as a dogged corruption fighter who took fearless steps against official graft.

As head of state, the army general dismissed more than 10, 000 public officials, charged many to court for malpractices, and moved against fraudulent firms.

Mr. Muhammed’s administration lasted six months before his assassination, but was long enough to convince many the 37-year-old was one leader who could have aggressively treated – if not cured – Nigeria of its chronic corruption, had he lived longer.

But to American diplomats, Mr. Muhammed was a strikingly different figure from the no-nonsense general many Nigerians respected.

They believed he was not only an arrogant mass murderer, but just as corrupt as those he went after.

And, although brilliant and daring, Mr. Muhammed was an erratic and impetuous ethnic chauvinist who lacked the unifying talent of his predecessor, Yakubu Gowon, American diplomats said at the time.

John E. Reinhardt, former US ambassador to Nigeria.
John E. Reinhardt, former US ambassador to Nigeria.

“The leader of the coup against General Yakubu Gowon is an erratic, vainglorious, impetuous, corrupt, vindictive, intelligent, articulate, daring Hausa,” a memorandum sent by then American Ambassador to Nigeria, John Reinhardt, to then United States Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, on August 18, 1975, said.

The memo, amongst several recently declassified U.S. diplomatic cables, painted a sordid picture of a man regarded by many Nigerians as a folk hero of sort, for his seeming relentless war against corruption.

Mr. Reinhardt delivered the damning appraisal on the request of Mr. Kissinger shortly after Mr. Muhammed deposed Mr. Gowon in a coup d’état.

The change of guard apparently triggered a feverish effort by the American government to obtain the character portraits of the new coup leaders of Africa’s most populous nation.

“Brigadier Murtala Muhammed was a prime force in the Nigerian coup of July 1966, which brought Gowon to power, and is one of the two principal plotters against Gowon for the past two years,” Mr. Reinhardt wrote.

“He commanded a division during the Nigerian civil war, was involved in the only documented case of genocide, won one important battle, and thereafter coasted for upwards of two years until Gowon finally removed him from command and placed him in charge of Army signals, a position which he held until last month…coup.”

While Mr. Muhammed led Nigeria for less than a year before being overthrown, he featured for about a decade in the realms of military and political power.

He was also controversial. During the war against the secessionist Biafra Republic, Mr. Muhammed commanded the army’s second division which was accused of executing thousands of civilians in Asaba, Delta State, in what is now known as the Asaba Massacre.

The division was also accused of ordering the killing of several Biafran prisoners of war.

After he took office in 1975, Mr. Muhammed moved fiercely against corruption, earning praise.

But the U.S. cable depicted him differently.

One letter to Washington says Mr. Muhammed inherited from Mr. Gowon – and also contributed to – a “tradition of corrupt civilian and military officials, urban problems second only to those of Calcutta, drift and ineptitude in development, insoluble but containable ethnic problems, and a national temperament which combines pride, aggressiveness, arrogance and patriotism into a brand of xenophobia best labeled Nigerianism”.

“Almost six years after the civil war, Muhammed is probably ushering in a period of coups,” the cable said. “As a corrupt Hausa, he automatically attracts Ibo and Yoruba enmity, which he knows and has attempted to reduce by early appointments. As a Northerner and a Muslim, he will be expected to consolidate once and for all the leadership role which his fifty million brothers are certain is theirs. Muhammed will agree, of course, but will seem to the Hausas to vacillate as he sings ‘One Nigeria’.”

The Murtala Mohammed Foundation did not respond to a request for comment. Mr. Muhammed’s daughter, Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, who heads the foundation, could not be reached. Calls and a text message to her phone were not answered.

Balaraba Ramat Yakubu, author and younger sister of the former head of state, said she was not in a position to respond. She advised we contact the foundation’s head office in Lagos. Calls to available numbers to the office did not go through.

Michael Ogbeidi, professor and head of department of History and Strategic Studies, University of Lagos, who has researched and written extensively on political leadership and corruption in Nigeria since 1960, said he rejected the American assessment.

“America should put its house in order first and stop acting as the most honest nation in the world,” Mr. Ogbeidi said.

He said Mr. Reinhardt spoke “un-ambassadorially”, and suggested the Americans may have been unhappy with Mr. Murtala because of his tough stance against “corrupt” American companies that violated Nigerian laws.

“I completely disagree with that assessment because no country houses corrupt business entities like the USA; and this is evidenced in the collapse of the country’s housing, mortgage and auto sectors,” he said.

Eric Teniola, a veteran journalist, who was the Oyo State Bureau Chief for the Nigerian Herald at the time, also disagreed with the Americans.

“I am unable to agree with the Americans that he was corrupt because although there were lots of allegations at the time, they were never proven,” Mr. Teniola said. As far as I am concerned, he was a brave and committed administrator, never afraid of taking tough decisions and then standing firmly by them. He was a straightforward man. He was never sly.

“But it is true that he has high temper and was not much of a team player. He also displayed indiscipline in the way he related with Gowon during the war.”

Mr. Reinhardt, who was the U.S. top diplomat to Nigeria from 1971 to 1975, said while there was no reason to believe that Mr. Murtala could approach Mr. Gowon’s success in accommodating ethnic rivalries, there was also no reason to think that he would be any more successful in rapidly developing the country.

“…And rapidity is the great need if he is to avoid Gowon’s political problems stemming from stymied development,” he said. “Money is obviously plentiful, but absorptive capacity is low (corruption, unrealistic planning, confused priorities, and a demonstrated reluctance to turn to the outside).”

The cable had fewer words about Mr. Obasanjo, who later succeeded Mr. Muhammed after his death, and would later become Nigeria’s civilian president.

12 Oct 1977, Manhattan, New York, USA: Lt. General Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria addressing the United Nations. [Photo Credit: CORBIS]
12 Oct 1977, Manhattan, New York, USA: Lt. General Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria addressing the United Nations. [Photo Credit: CORBIS]

It pointed to the duo’s activism against apartheid in Southern Africa, and suspected they were anti-American.

“Finally, Muhammed and his co-plotter and now deputy, Brigadier Olusegun Obasanjo, are the most militant of Nigerian military leaders on the Southern African question. Gowon and his principal lieutenants burned with the rage of all Africans when considering this issue, but they were realistic,” he said.

“Muhammed and Obasanjo are advocates of a NATO-type military command within the OAU having the avowed objective of strengthening liberation movements. More responsibility may bring more realism. On the other hand, formidable ethnic and developmental problems could convince the new leadership that they should deal repressively with the domestic scene while joining militant Arabs and Africans in organizing a Pan African jihad for liberation. (A large Libyan delegation visited Lagos last week.)

Murtala Mohammed and Olusegun Obasanjo on 31 July,1975, a day after taking office. [Photo credit: Nigerian Bulletin]
Murtala Mohammed and Olusegun Obasanjo on 31 July,1975, a day after taking office. [Photo credit: Nigerian Bulletin]

“Muhammed and Obasanjo are unlikely to bring any more inspiration to this enterprise than Nkrumah and Amin. At any rate they do not enhance their prospects for survival by any launchings on this uncharted course. Yorubas and Ibos, at least, will be disinclined to travel with them.”

Mr. Reinhardt said an early but “undocumented and probably inaccurate assessment” was that certainly Mr. Muhammed and perhaps Mr. Obasanjo were anti-American. He said that reaction was based on “an unfortunate U.S. visa restriction entered in Muhammed’s passport and Obasanjo’s impulsive move to evict our Embassy from prime Lagos property.”

“We are simply too far apart on the political issues which they exalt, mainly Southern Africa and the whole range of UN controversies,” he said.

He said the U.S. stood greater chance in the economic-commercial area, and noted that Mr. Muhammed had demonstrated some responsiveness in that regard.

“When the corrupt Muhammed succeeded the more corrupt J. S. Tarka as Commissioner of Communications, he immediately perceived that at least the telephones must operate properly if his fate were to be any different from Tarka’s.

“American businessmen, in extended conversations with me, described Muhammed as being un-Nigerian in his acceptance of their proposals. Specifically GTE and ITT were close to multi-million dollar contracts when Muhammed turned from communications to plotting.”

He assessed that Mr. Muhammed was intelligent enough to realise that he could not survive unless he converted oil revenues into tangible development.

“Among his considerable faults is not Idi Arminian stupidity,” he wrote. “His questionable maneuverings as Commissioner reveal a respect for American technology and a realization that capital markets do not begin and end in London. (British and Canadian communications interests have absorbed Nigerian revenues for years without producing a workable system. Other fields point up similar examples, as USG (Unites States Government) policy has deferred to a British sphere of influence.)

Amongst the recommendations Mr. Reinhardt sent to Washington, was an advice that the U.S. avoid even semblance of close political ties to the new regime, “until and unless it proves more durable than now seems likely”.

Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon
Former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon

On the contrary, he advised the American government to maintain discreet and friendly state ties with Mr. Gowon, though avoiding commitments.

“After another coup or two, probably bloody, Gowon may seem more and more to be the indispensable military leader, or at least the only acceptable one,” he concluded.

Mr. Reinhardt was the first black U.S. ambassador to Nigeria. In 1977, he became the first career diplomat to lead the U.S. Information Agency.

He died on February 18, 2016 at 95.


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  • yosef

    This is just a disjointed and hurriedly compiled opinion of the Ambassador to pander and curry favor with his masters in Washington.

    • Iskacountryman

      everyone is entitled to their opinion…but from the utside looking in…the ambassador gave fair assessment of things…and did his job well…dont forget his loyalty was not to nigeria, unlike yours…

  • Impulse400

    Is it symbolic that the ambassador in question passed away just after the last Murtala Mohammed Lecture…?

    How do we of the present generation get to the truth of the matter…?

  • Rommel

    This seems to be a fairly honest and balanced assessment of that era from an objective foreign emissary,I only wonder if Nigerian diplomats also give such balanced assessments to our government on matters of engagement.For those who have not read about Murtala Mohammed era which I know is should be almost 99.7% of Nigerians,they should do a little research,it will become clearer that what this ambassador said is nearer to truth than emotion as some would want to suggest and to those ethnic agitators,this should be an eye opener that the many wild allegations of killings they claim being perpetrated against them are being taken with a pinch of salt since the embassies are observing,people celebrating the release of Ibori,Saraki remaining senate president after damning allegations,proven cases of corruption against some present actors in Abuja,governors like Nyesom Wike and Ayo Fayose etc,when this era we are living in today is declassified in the future,only God knows what it would look like

    • Message66

      You are always so dishonest, parochial, and heavily biased with your assessments. Always wanting to sound intelligent but your comments are always riddled with hypocritical expressions. People celebrating Ibori (not that I give a damn), are a lot better than those celebrating the continued killing of peaceful unarmed protesters, celebrating through silence and quiet support for this administration, the ethnic cleansing of Christians and farmers from their land by Hausa/Fulanis, as well as supporting those who and are still milking states like Lagos dry. One of these days the truth about the Chibok girls and the politician’s house where they were lodged in Maiduguri will be revealed. Take your APC styled self righteousness to the trash.

      • Rommel

        So what is your view on what you read? oh I forgot,you have none other than knowing how parochial and unintelligent I am,well that says it all that you are filled with emotional outbursts without benefits of intellect

        • aboki

          Rommel don’t waste your data bundle and time responding to these type of people as they may not understand couples with stigma inbuilt with Sentiments.
          History is really but not one with distorted facts and questionable mission.
          Is this so call decument trying to rewrite history and portray GMM otherwise?
          You may notice the deviation from the issue due to excessive hatred and ignorance of history.

      • imagine_2012

        I agree with you. Most times I wonder which of the many faces of Rommel would react to any current issue. He is too hypocritical for my reading.

      • Iskacountryman

        you cannot come and take our grazing lands and expect no repercussions…

    • Mike

      People don’t understand that everyone can’t be lied to at the same time. Murtala was an insubordinate- to Gowon for 9 years-mass murderer-in a war he abandoned 2 years early for vacation in London-lol. It’s crazy such people are given so much respect. Such to me is contrived to the farcical. And your point is true ; one can’t steal and say he didn’t, kill and say they didn’t. Or keep accounts abroad and deny it. Meanwhile in some bureau(s) in the US and U.K Reams of paper (physical and virtual) detail the objective goddamn truth.

      Foreigners couldn’t give a shit about the petty ethnopolitical wranglings that occur here. Our people and leaders have never failed to play their part; clueless Africans on the prowl.

      Tho I sympathize with Muhammad’s stance on apartheid. Not with Reinhardt.

      And that Lagos prof is out of his element. Institutional corruption is not as pervasive in the US. Systemically the problem is always easy to identify as a tumour. As opposed to where the tumour is the system …..

      • marc umeh

        The truth is that we as Aficans and nigerians in particular need heros. We have pecious few. We want to believe that within our mist must be some , who have trancended our inanities , our tribalism , our immorality and failure as a society. We tend to grab any opportunity that presents itself.
        Thus GEJ is a hero to me because he did what should have come naturally.

        • Mike

          I understand you brodie. There’s the need to satisfy that emotional requirement. But I just do not think it is fair to classify Murtala or any soldier for that matter as a hero..For instance; Imagine if there was no coup in ’83.. the elections of ’87 and ’91 would have gone a long way to mature our democracy. Giving it some experience and stability points… The heroes haven’t arrived yet. This country is arely 60. They’d probably emerge in the trying days ahead. Let’s see. Long life to you.

          • marc umeh

            Thanks , we need to say the truth to shame the devil llll

    • Iskacountryman

      i agree with you…the sacking of the civil service ruined nigeria…i remember one law they made…you must work for government for two years before going into private practise…it ruined business…

  • Rommel

    I use this opportunity to remind Nigerians of what Lord Lugard’s impression about us was and to ask honestly and dispassionately because of his choice of language if we do not recognise parts of ourselves still in what he wrote in 1926 which is 91yrs ago–

    “In character and temperament, the typical African of this race-type is a happy, thriftless, excitable person, lacking in self-control, discipline, and foresight. Naturally courageous, and naturally courteous and polite, full of personal vanity, with little sense of veracity, fond of music and loving weapons as an oriental loves jewellery. His thoughts are concentrated on the events and feelings of the moment, and he suffers little from the apprehension for the future or grief for the past. His mind is far nearer to the animal world than that of the European or Asiatic, and exhibits something of the animals’ placidity and want of desire to rise beyond the state he has reached.

    “Through the ages, the African appears to have evolved no organised religious creed, and though some tribes appear to believe in a deity, the religious sense seldom rises above pantheistic animalism and seems more often to take the form of a vague dread of the supernatural. He lacks the power of organisation, and is conspicuously deficient in the management and control alike of men or business. He loves the display of power, but fails to realize its responsibility – he will work hard with a less incentive than most races. He has the courage of the fighting animal, an instinct rather than a moral virtue. In brief, the virtues and defects of his race -type are those of attractive children, whose confidence when it is won is given ungrudgingly as to an older and wiser superior and without envy. Perhaps, the two traits which have impressed me as those most characteristic of the African native are his lack of apprehension and his lack of ability to visualize the future”

    • Julius

      Wow ! Well stated…the truth !

    • Senator D

      Wtf! Lord Lugard may it never be well with you and your ilks forever and ever… Is this the way they (Whites) view us? Men, we really need a mental emancipation… God please save us from ourselves…

    • emmanuel

      You have just showed Mohammadu Buhari on a glazed photo frame. A mirrir of Nigeria President!

    • VERITAS_ the rock of ages_

      yep. He is right. My own analysis also. Thats why black people are so easily predictable. I can always predict what a Nigerian would do next in every situation and i am always right. People here have called me Prophet, seer, apostle. But i have no supernatural powers. I just know what Lord Luggard said is true and use it to make psychological analysis of Nigerians.

    • marc umeh

      This is true today as it was yesterday !!!

  • Ijeuwa

    It was all about American interests. Notice how he talked about American business prospects in Nigeria at the time.

    • Rommel

      Does America exist to take care of your interest? If they take care of your interests,who would take care of theirs for them? most of you are naive,one revolutionary thing the internet has let us know is how the citizenry thinks

      • Ijeuwa

        You’re missing the point, aren’t u?

        Americans have the right to talk about us and our leaders but we don’t have the right to talk about our own interests. Is that what you mean by being naive? So when they concoct a report on us, we shall be grateful to them for lying about us, isn’t it?

  • Akanji92

    The “It pointed to the duo’s activism against apartheid in Southern Africa, and suspected they were anti-American”. They were only interested in their personal interest, not Nigeria’s interest. Grandfathers of Donald Trump

  • Yusufu Abdullahi

    That report was written out of General Murtala disagreement with President Gerald Ford on Angola issues and deployment of Cubans troops to push both South African forces helping Portugal forces in keeping Angola under the control of White Portuguese and White South Africans. In short it was his support for the deployment of Cuban forces into Africa. USA was in full support of South African Apartheid Forces in Angola but against Cuban Forces. The ISA Ambassador had to do what he did, soothing his boss Secretary of State Kissinger who was enjoying his high accomplishment with his President Nixon in first contact with Communist China.

  • Alpha

    Complete trash! I still hope another Murtala will rise to lead this country out of the woods. So much of Murtala’s achievements were surreptitiously but wrongly credit to Buhari during the 2015 campaigns by the fraudulent Nigerian press.

    • Stargazer

      “Murtala will rise to lead this country out of the woods”? Na today nyansh dey back? Isn’t that the same way easy-to-swindle people like you hailed Buhari as the messiah of Africa and today he’s a despicable flop, far worse than a thieving Jonathan? I am sick with the crap called Nigeria, and all the nonsense about praising illiterate and crooked military touts who happened on power and merely used same to plunder and kill. As the Lord liveth, I am looking to a better future free of thieves like Obasanjo, IBB, Jonathan, Buhari, Murtala, Saraki, Akpabio, etc and low-life praise singers like you. Go sidon jare!

  • Hero

    Why should we take their views about us so importantly…when we have carted a course for ourselves. Is it not the same America that an impulsive Donald Trump is leading today?

  • Poseidon

    Murtala’s history of insubordination is very well recorded. He never gave Gowon the respect he deserved as leader and his argument was that he helped install Gowon in office.
    He was also known to have an anger problem. The type that shoots first and ask questions later and this was also very well documented. Hence, his “escapades” in the civil war.
    Murtala was a very stubborn person and once in the civil war, he led a group of soldiers to their deaths because they couldn’t swim. An action he carried out against superior command.
    The Ambassador was really on point with his assessment of Murtala.

    • Ola Folarin

      May God bless you. He led the Asaba disaster by forcing a delegation of soldiers to cross a big river against superior order which clearly told him to take another route. over 500 soldiers lost their lives. He simply abadoned the surviving soldiers and returned to command headquarters.

      The Asaba massacre was a genocide on its own. POWs were rounded up and shot. While other brigade leaders( Tuoyo, Aknrinade/Alabi-Isama) arrest POWs,disinform them,use them as intel gatherers and assmiliate tem into federal forces which colectively enhances the success of the brigade, Muritala Mohammed simply murdered arrested POWs.

  • Richard Wall

    When I saw this headline, I instinctively knew that the report would be all about maligning Murtala Muhammed, but I never expected that the Americans would let slip the real reason for their biased assessment. I had naively thought that they would have ( as usual ) clothed their intervention in the guise of “our values ” , and respect for ” democracy” , ” human rights” , and the ” rule of law” , which they always spout ,ad nauseaum , and which the vast majority of the world ( unfortunately, including most Nigerians) swallow , ” hook , line , and sinker”.

    The first thing to note is that this unflattering assessment is based solely on the interests of the U.S. While Murtala Muhammed had his faults ( he is only human after all ) , the US, made this damaging appraisal solely because Murtala Muhammed was pro-Nigerian , and pro-Africa , which of necessity would make him , and any other leader , ” anti-American ” , since the interests of Nigeria and the US are mutually exclusive and diametrically opposed.

    To the US , if the leader of any country defends the interests of his country at all times , he is ” nationalistic” , which is anathema go the US, since it prefers leaders of other countries to ask ” how high” , when the US orders them to jump.

    Unfortunately for the US ( and fortunately for Nigeria ) , Murtala refused to jump when ordered to.

    As the report makes clear , the US was concerned about the support that Murtala gave to liberation movements in Africa.

    Pray. Tell. Why would the US , which claims that is a bastion of ” democracy ” , ” human rights” , bla bla bla, be mortified about the prospect of independence for Mozambique , Angola , and Namibia ( then known as South West Africa) , and the dismantling of the obnoxious apartheid system in the Republic of South Africa and the establishment of majority rule therein?

    You couldn’t make this up.

    The fact of the matter is that the US was the main backer of the obnoxious and repressivevapartheid government of South Africa, on the basis that it was a ” bulwark against communism”, and the US did not want independence for Angola and Mozambique , since the major forces therein were allied to the Soviet Union, while the US’s stooges ,i.e. Jonas Savimbi and his U.N.I.T.A (Angola ) , and Alphonso Dhlakama and his RENAMO ,(Mozambique) were on the back foot.

    Murtala signed his own ” death warrant” when he made a speech at the UN in which he said that Africa would no longer allow itself to be used as a tool by external forces, i.e. the US. Murtala said inter alia :

    ” AFRICA HAS COME OF AGE”

    As to the US claiming that Murtala commited genocide during the war , had they forgotten so soon that the US killed millions of Native Americans, who were the original owners of the land which is now the United States?

    Had they forgotten that they killed hundreds of thousands , if not millions of the Kuk , one of the indigenous peoples of the Phillipines, after they took over control of the Phillipines from Spain in 1898?

    Had they forgotten so soon about the “My Lai massacre” when they killed thousands of unarmed villagers in Vietnam , and how they killed millions of other unarmed civilians in Vietnam , Cambodia and Laos ,in the 1960’s and 1970’s?

    The Americans are just bloody hypocrites.

    They should just shut up and stop pretending that their sole purpose in life is to promote democracy , human rights , and the rule of law, as “assigned ” to them by God.

    If the US were to be so concerned about democracy and human rights , it would not have supported military coups against democratically elected leaders e.g, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman of Guatamela , Mossadegh of Iran , Patrice Lumumba of Congo, Sukarno of Indonesia ,Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana , Salvador Allende of Chile ,etc , etc , and it would not have supported blood thirsty tyrants like, Mobutu Sese Seko , of Congo ( Zaire ) , General Suharo of Indonesia ,General Pinochet of Chile , Somoza of Nicaragua , and the military rulers of Argentina , Brazil , El Salvador ,and other Latin American countries , who killed millions of people in a C.I.A-funded program for Latin-America ,called ” Operation Condor” , organised by Latin American military officers, who were trained by US military officers at the “School for the Americas” ( more accurately called the ” School for Assasins”) , in the US.

    Murtala was not perfect , but the Americans have no right to tarnish his memory based on self-serving motives.

    Please Nigerians , ” shine your eyes ” .

    Learn to read between the lines and do not believe everything that the government-controlled , mainstream media in the US and other western countries , e.g. the CNN ,(C.I.A News Network ,Washington Post , New York Post , B.B.C. ( British Brainwashing Corporation ), Fox News ( Faux News) , V.O.A ( Vice ( no mistake) of America ) , France 24 , Deutsch Welle , etc , etc , write or say.

    Always do your own research and critically analyse whatever the mainstream media (presstitutes ; a portmanteau of “press” and ” prostitutes” ) tells you.

    • Julius

      Hey Richard, long time. Happy new year and glad to e-see you back telling it like it is. I agree with you, after all a decent country will always be looking out for her best interest and my friend this is what America does. What they did then wasn’t unusual . Murtala wasn’t going to be pushed around. Same thing with Ghadafi at the time.

      • Richard Wall

        Happy New Year my brother.
        Happy New Year my brother.

        How have you been?

        I have absolutely no problem at all with any country seeking to advance its interest, that after all should be the first goal of any country.

        What I detest however is the , so far , wildly successful American tactic of clothing its naked self-interest in the garb of ” democracy ” , ” human rights” , ” rule of law ” and all the other bullsh*t concepts that it uses its compliant media to hoodwink the gullible masses into believing are its reason for existence.

        Most people believe that the western media is the exemplar of journalistic excellence , but nothing could be further from the truth.

        While to a large extent , the media organisations are “privately-owned” , the reality is that they are joined at the hip with the western governments in an incestuous relationship, and always parrot the official line , like Pravda , of the defunct USSR.

        Any one who doubts what I have said should read up on the following three subjects :

        (1) ” Operation Mockingbird”,

        (2) “Austin Goodrich” , a C.I.A agent, masquerading as a journalist , who worked for Newsweek Magazine , among other media outfits, and

        (3)” Udo Ulfkotte” , a German “journalist” , who wrote the book titled “Gekaufte Journalisten ” (“Bought Journalists”, in English), in which he states that the CIA and other secret services pay money to journalists to report stories in a certain light.

        According to Ulfkotte, the CIA and German intelligence (BND) bribe journalists in Germany to write pro-NATO propaganda articles, and it is well understood that journalists may lose their media job if they fail to comply with the pro-Western agenda.

        The English translation of the book is due to be published under the title “Journalists for Hire: How the CIA Buys the News”, in May 2017.

        Like you rightly said , ” Murtala wasn’t going to be pushed around” , which was the reason behind this unflattering assessment.

        Obasanjo was not willing or able to look the Americans in the eye and tell them to go to hell , , which was why he later , to his eternal shame , became a C.I.A “asset”, just to avoid being on the receiving end of a C.I.A-sponsored coup.

        Recall that Andrew Young , the then US Ambassador to the UN, was more or less , OBJ’s ” handler” , and that Jimmy Carter , the then US president , visited Nigeria , when OBJ was the head of state in the 1970’s.

        Murtala was not a saint , but he had the best interest of Nigeria , nay Africa , at heart.

        May the soul of this great son of Africa rest in peace.

        AMEN.

        Take care my brother.

        • Julius

          Bro, I agree with everything that you have stated however, I do not blame the American government looking out for their best interest. That is what every country do or should be doing. Its our fault letting them get away with all that nonsense when it comes to Nigeria / Africa. Our problem is the lack of patriotism especially with our new so called leaders or just about every Joe and harris out there. One thing we have to give the old folks credit for is their zeals and patriotism. Trust me, I know they were not perfect but, my God, they were and still better than these morons we have now. Remember OBJ did not allow the U S secretary of state plane landing in Nigeria during those years. That is a fact. Can you imagine any of these thieves doing that now ?. Yes they use the media and the media use the government, that’s true but, they both still do their duty to their citizens. The Democrats has their news friends and so are the Republicans. This last election should open our eyes. I agree wholeheartedly your assessment of Murtala, it is mine as well. God bless bro and stay safe !

          • Richard Wall

            My brother , please try and read up on the three topics I raised earlier on, in relation to media ” independence ” ( note the inverted commas ) in the west.. It would be an eye-opener for you. Let me repeat them for emphasis :

            1. ‘ Operation Mockingbird”,
            2. “Austin Goodrich”, and
            3. “Udo Ulfkotte”

            OBJ was nationalistic, and pan-Africanist in the very beginning, ( remember that he nationalised the assests of British Petroleum , and renamed it “National Oil and Chemical Marketing Company, now known as Conoil ), but unfortunately changed after the Americans made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, i.e.: ” behave or else we will sponsor a coup against you”.

            OBJ ” saw the light” thereafter and shamelessly became an American stooge, to his everlasting shame.

            Take care my brother.

    • Galantman

      This is an intelligent and in depth analysis that has exposed the hypocrisy of the Americans and the West .
      Thanks and long live bros

      • Richard Wall

        You do me a great honour my brother.

        The west , most especially the Americans are rank hypocrites, who pretend that they love democracy and human rights , while their closest allies are autocracies like Qatar , United Arab Emirates , Oman , and Saudi Arabia ,which do not even pretend to be democratic , and which criminalize criticism of their monarchs and members of their ruling families.

        You couldn’t make this up.

        Long life to you and yours my brother.

        AMEN.

        Take care my brother.

        • Galantman

          You are welcome my brother

    • VERITAS_ the rock of ages_

      Good one mate. You seem to know how the real world works not this entertainment world (level 3). Good to have another one here. stay blessed. I used to be black on black. Nasty the real world is. Not a place i wanna be again, But prefere it to the superficial media lies run world..

  • Time stoey.

    Americans now engaged in full scale war to make sure Nigeria decent into WAR at all cost. It’s cruel of them to mention such in this time knowing fully the fragile nature of ours, it does not make sense to pit raw petrol on an already burning garbage.

  • The_Voice

    I can see some similarities between Muhammed and Mohammadu (our current president) from this report.

    Many Nigerians believed he was a no-nonsense general, one leader who could have aggressively treated – if not cured – Nigeria of its chronic corruption…But to American diplomats believed he was not only an arrogant mass murderer, but just as corrupt as those he went after. And, although brilliant and daring, Mr. Muhammed was an erratic and impetuous ethnic chauvinist who lacked the unifying talent of his predecessor, Yakubu Gowon, American diplomats said at the time.

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  • L’homme Diplomatique

    @disqus_ixOd4gVXLt:disqus

    I DISAGREED WITH THE ASSESSMENT of Murtala Muhammed as intelligent. But when I read further
    for proof of evidence I now saw the context in which the U.S Embassy used the word ‘intelligent’ as
    meaning that “…a corrupt Murtala Muhamed” was at least intelligent to know he was going to be
    a waste of space on earth if he did not make the national phone company – NITEL – less worse
    than it was under his equally corrupt predecessor, J.S. Tarka. I accept that hyperbole as tact.

    • S.K.T

      Hear, hear! It is like saying Bola
      Tinubu and Raji Fashola are intelligent for openly distributing phone recharge
      cards FREE, to bribe voters in the 2015 election. Or saying that Buhari is
      intelligent denying he ever promised free school meal during his 2015
      presidential campaign. The word INTELLIGENT is too strong for such contexts. It
      is not diplomatic tact, as you suggest, it is hyperbole, yes, but closer to
      lies.

      • Point Blank

        WHAT DID
        MURTALA MUHAMED DO TO MAKE NIGERIA’s EDUCATION FUNCTIONAL? NOTHING. WHAT DID HE
        DO TO REORGANIZE HEALTH DELIVERY FOR SELF-SUFFICIENCY? NOTHING. WHAT DID HE DO
        TO IMPROVE INTER-ETHNIC RELATIONS FOR NATIONAL COHESION? ZERO! DID HE EVER
        BEQUEATH A SINGLE POLITICAL THOUGHT FOR FUTURE GOVERNANCE? NONE. HOW DID HIS
        PREGNANT DEPUTY, OLUSEGUN OBASANJO, HIMSELF DO ON ALL THOSE SCORES? ZERO!

  • Julius

    All that came as a result of the new head of states Murtala refusing to dance to their tune. All politics are local after-all. I do not blame America looking out for their best interest. It was what it was and still is.

  • imagine_2012

    Nothing here is new. Murtala was a mass murderer and as ignorant and f00lish like all Nigerian leaders.

  • Senator D

    Breeze don blow foul yansh don open… Okay Liar Mohammed or Garba Ishiewu or Lam Adesina (sorry Femi Adesina) organise a press conference and tear these nonsense Americans to shreds jare!

  • Bakanridi

    Every sane and matured Nigerian knew why and who masterminded the killing of Late Gen Murtala Muhammed. It is a shame upon this lousy so-called diplomat to write rubbish as as report on Nigeria’s Most Patriotic Leader. It also shame for those hiding behind the mask of social media to talk evil upon the dead; especially someone who was brutally killed for the sake of his country. Shame upon THOSE THAT TALK ILL OF THE DEAD ONES. They should remember one day they WILL JOIN THEM THERE, SOONER OR LATER.

  • Olaola

    Muritala Muhammed is a true Nigerian hero, no amount of revisionist history can change that. End of story.

    • yukkmouff

      One man’s hero is another’s genocidal overlord, its a free world and you’re entitled to your opinion.

    • Michael

      Hero of what really. Is he hero because of mass murdering of helpless civilians during a civil war or looting of a CBN also during the war. So again please explain his heroism.

  • Dawood

    Premium Times no get work? Which ogogoro una drink before posting this? If you have the space to publish this garbage against our finest and most courageous leader, then something is seriously wrong with your outfit. This is like salt on injury: Americans killed Murtala, and for Premium to then throw this garbage in our face is outrageous. Kissinger over Murtala? Una craze.

    • Stargazer

      Go sidon jare! You don’t need to read..

    • AvantGarde

      Grab a book or use the internet (its not only for watching porn). Murtala Mohammed was a mass murderer (Asaba Massacre) and a well-known hothead, lacking discipline and professionalism. The military hierarchy at the time had major concerns about his stability.

      • Michael

        Lol. Please tell that pretentious Mallam.

  • Galantman

    WHO KILLED ALL THE AFRICAN PATRIOTS? OFF COURSE THE AMERICANS AND THE WEST. AS LONG AS YOU ARE NOT THERE PUPPET, THEY BLACKMAIL OR KILL YOU. WHAT HAPPENED TO KWAME NKURUMA , PATRICK LUMUMBA ETC.? THEY WERE ALL MURDERED BECAUSE THEY LOVE THERE PEOPLE.
    THE BLOOD OF OUR PATRIOTS WILL HOUNT AMERICA AND ITS ALLIES TILL ETERNITY. THIS IS TOTAL NONSENSE ,LIES AND RUBBISH.

  • emmanuel

    The media is playing up a suspicious script today. Release right? Something is not adding up please.
    However, information contained in this and others published today in some other medium are true of Murtala and Buhari. That is not to say the USA in their usual saintly position did not exhibit their discontent against the fight for freedom in SA.
    I smell a rat. hmmm.

  • kusanagi

    “tradition of corrupt civilian and military officials, urban problems second only to those of Calcutta, drift and ineptitude in development, insoluble but containable ethnic problems, and a national temperament which combines pride, aggressiveness, arrogance and patriotism into a brand of xenophobia best labeled Nigerianism”.

    Things haven’t changed at all.

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  • thusspokez

    “America should put its house in order first and stop acting as the most honest nation in the world,” Mr. Ogbeidi said.

    Here was a professor and head of department of History being asked about his views based on his own research, but what was his response? Simple appeal to patriotism. This is the sort of mediocrity one would find in Nigerian academia and the reason for the poor quality of education in Nigerian universities.

    He said Mr. Reinhardt spoke “un-ambassadorially”, and suggested the Americans may have been unhappy with Mr. Murtala because of his tough stance against “corrupt” American companies that violated Nigerian laws.

    “un-ambassadorially”? Does this mediocre professor realise that this was a private cable — as we see in the WIKILEAKS Public Library of US Diplomacy cables — which American diplomats write to their governments?

    • Wakawaka

      On the money sir. My thoughts too!

    • Alfred

      Well said sir. The pro’s comments are so unprofessorial

      • AvantGarde

        Its ridiculous. Completely avoids the issue and focuses on America’s character. The comments only reveal a long-known truth; that professorships in Nigeria are not awarded in recognition of any academic distinction. They are merely honorary titles given to those who have stayed long enough in the mediocrity that our university system is.

      • Sir Louis

        Ha ha ha. Professor indeed!

    • Gary

      That is all you need to know to assess the level of education in Nigeria. Remember too that my kinsman, GEJ, was awarded a PhD by UniPort, the same university that counts his wife and Amaechi as alumni. Need we say more about federal character Professors and education in Nigeria?

      • yukkmouff

        True talk..hahahahahaha!

      • Sir Louis

        Well said!

    • Michael

      Right on bro!

  • thusspokez

    British and Canadian communications interests have absorbed Nigerian revenues for years without producing a workable system.

    People could try to rubbish the US Ambassador’s observations and analysis. But he was right here. Nigeria’s telephone systems was built during the colonial era and maintained by British owned GEC Plessey; it was archaic and the technology was antiquated, and was also costing the Nigeria government a lot of money. The company engineers were all British or westerners and no Nigerian. This was before ITT and Abiola was awarded the contract to modernises it.

    Amongst the recommendations Mr. Reinhardt sent to Washington, was an advice that the U.S. avoid even semblance of close political ties to the new regime, “until and unless it proves more durable than now seems likely”

    Mr. Reinhardt was in effect implying that the Murtala Muhammed regime was not going to last and he was right.

    • Michael

      Well said.

    • Texbee

      I believed you read this:
      “On the contrary, he advised the American government to maintain discreet and friendly state ties with Mr. Gowon, though avoiding commitments.
      “After another coup or two, probably bloody, Gowon may seem more and more to be the indispensable military leader, or at least the only acceptable one,” he concluded.”
      If you couple this with Dimka’s motive to bring Gowon back to power , you may be able to conclude the role each one played

  • olat

    Since DT came to power in the US, America Diplomats n C.I.A ve b throwing mud on Asia and Africa best leaders. A few weeks ago, d man that took Malaysia out of poverty was regarded by C.I.A classified document as corrupt n engaged in
    ethnic cleansing of minority. Today is Murtala of Nigeria, who is next?
    God ve not sent an angel to rule over a nation before, every leaders have their strengths and weakness. D good one is love and missed after death in Africa while d U.S. love and cherished d good one in office and after death.

    • AvantGarde

      You do need a good education don’t you? This cable was clearly written in the 70’s, when Donald Trump may not have even imagined he would be President today. This pervasive ignorance is largely responsible for this mess of a nation we have found ourselves in

  • FreeNigeria

    I’ve said it over and over, Murtala and OBJ caused the trouble we’re in today. The question is “How do we get out of this mess”?

    • Gary

      By returning the country to the regional structure in place before they came along. The only progress we made as a country happened in that period, despite the overblown charges of corruption which, compared to what we have since witnessed, was child’s play.
      But the addiction to freely milking Niger Delta oil now serves as a disincentive for restructuring Nigeria.

      • oyoko

        i don’t agree with you. we have made so much progress after 1966. i agree though that we were better knitted together (from what i read) than now.

  • Gary

    Nothing new here. Anioma people do not remember Murtala Mohammed fondly for killing their people by the hundreds in Asaba. He also pillaged the CBN branch in Benin, although he later returned his loot after seizing power from Gowon.
    Mohammed destroyed the federal civil service with his imperious retirements by “immediate effect” targeted mainly at Southerners to pave way for the influx of less-qualified Northerners under the guise of “federal character” which was subsequently enshrined in the Nigerian constitution. It is the same federal character principle adopted for federal tertiary institutions that has resulted in the radical drop in educational standards in Nigeria.

    We would not need declassified American cables to do an insightful assessment of leadership in Nigeria if we had a culture of high education and scholarship in our universities and public life. Only OBJ, to his credit, has tried to write memoirs of his life and period in office; even if self-serving. Others from Gowon to Jonathan are alive and have refused to do so and tell us what really happened and where the bodies are buried in Nigerian politics. We still study the minds of Zik and Awo because they took time to put their thoughts, visions and experiences in writing.

    It is to the eternal shame of scholarship and enlightenment in Nigeria, that we depend on foreigners to tell us the truth about the buccaneers who have messed up our lives and hopes for the past half century.

  • Point Blank

    WHAT DID
    MURTALA MUHAMED DO TO MAKE NIGERIA’s EDUCATION FUNCTIONAL? NOTHING. WHAT DID HE
    DO TO REORGANIZE HEALTH DELIVERY FOR SELF-SUFFICIENCY? NOTHING. WHAT DID HE DO
    TO IMPROVE INTER-ETHNIC RELATIONS FOR NATIONAL COHESION? ZERO! DID HE EVER
    BEQUEATH A SINGLE POLITICAL THOUGHT FOR FUTURE GOVERNANCE? NONE. HOW DID HIS
    PREGNANT DEPUTY, OLUSEGUN OBASANJO, HIMSELF DO ON ALL THOSE SCORES? ZERO!

    • Uncle Bee

      @disqus_vNgNHRex1N:disqus

      There can’t be a heroic soldier inside an
      utterly defeated army. There’s been no hero in the entire crass leadership
      of darkly benighted Nigeria in succession from October 1st 1960 till date.
      Knowledge is power. Knowledge is the greatest force of earth. Knowledge is
      propelled by truth. In Nigeria where thefts and falsehood are joined in the hip
      and overarch what passes mistakenly for politics and public administration,
      there was no way to shoe-horn knowledge in a tiny interstice, because fraud
      unravels everything. Let anyone seeking a hero look over the borders to the
      land of Madiba, where leadership was forged in the crucible of severe sacrifice
      for the lives of all others. Nigeria has by contrast been stolen and stolen and
      robbed by uncouth riff-raff with no crisp morals or any home training.

      • FreeNigeria

        Well said Uncle Bee.

    • Odus

      What can he do in 6 months in office. One need to ask oneself, how have I done in the last 6 months to make life better for me and my family?

      • Otile

        Murderer Murtala Mohammed’s rule did not only last for 6 months, his reign of terror started before 1966 with arna Jack Gowon.

        • Odus

          At that point, one can assume he was taking orders from his superior. Just like a boy takes order from his dad until he reaches adulthood and he’s responsible for his own decision. Get it? Good!

  • Kbbmafia

    The americans could do anything conive to remove any good leader who want to devolop its country

    • thusspokez

      People like you — perhaps because of ignorance or an inferiority complex — view the US as a god and believe that it is involved in everything.

  • Bayo Ola

    Professor Michael Ogbeidi, this is brilliant: “America should put its house in order first and stop acting as the most honest nation in the world,” You succinctly captured Americans stupidity as you put it: “no country houses corrupt business entities like the USA; and this is evidenced in the collapse of the country’s housing, mortgage and auto sectors,” . In addition, the majority White Americans have elected the worst egomaniac, racist, bigot, misogynist and daft president while they still thumb their noses on others. Their homes are on fire while they want to quench fires from other people homes. This might sound like an irony, but in spite of Donald Trump eccentric nature, I still think he might not pose his nose on other “people” business as he is not a product of their ethnocentric institutions and Washington establishment.

    • Otile

      But the article is not about America. Deal with it, Hausa Fulani rulers have been corrupt from the beginning and Murtala Mohammedan was about the worst both in inhumanity and arrogance. Where do you think Boko Haram got its origin? These demons are basically unpeople period.

      • marc umeh

        Please tell them. America a continental and world power has become the object of their scorn !!!
        What nerve these people !!!

        • Gary

          They are reacting with embarrassment at being exposed by Oyimbos who knew way back in 1975 that Murtala Mohammed and his fellow Army illiterates from the North, one of whom is back in power, had nothing good to offer Nigeria.

          Nigerians have since and currently seen that the American Ambassador was right on the money.
          Then the idiots and their E-rats like Bayo Ola will come online to bleat for their paymasters that GEJ ruined Nigeria. Sorry, try as you may, you cannot rewrite history. Nigerians know when the rain started to beat them.

          • Bayo Ola

            At least the Army illiterate was better than their Donald Trump, a twenty first century illiterate that they overwhelmingly elected!

          • Michael

            Did I hear you say ” a 21st century illiterate”?

          • Christopher

            Wait a minute! Bayo, Did you just reffered to Trump as a twenty first century illiterate?
            You may have to reconsider your opinion sir!

          • Lanre

            Thank you.

      • Haba mallam

        The baboon from the creek that goes with the name “otile” always has answers from the bottom pit of the creeks, just say the word Hausa or Fulani and he will piss on his pants out of fear.

      • Lanre

        Otile. No need to bother arguing with these online internet analysts. The hunger wiring people in Southern Nigeria will wake them up to the reality of their situation.

  • Dan_Arewa

    No body, I said no body will believe what America said about Murtala and OBJ militry regime. The are the Best Militery government Nigeria ever hard. We are even suspecting that America has a hand in the assassination of Murtala because he is not doing what they are interested in.
    May Allah continue to Rest Murtala Soul in peace, ameen.

    • thusspokez

      We are even suspecting that America has a hand in the assassination of Murtala because he is not doing what they are interested in.

      Tosh! So, the US had a hand in the assassination of a man who was in the process of awarding multi-million dollar contracts to two giant US companies? See the following:

      “American businessmen, in extended conversations with me, described Muhammed as being un-Nigerian in his acceptance of their proposals. Specifically GTE and ITT were close to multi-million dollar contracts when Muhammed turned from communications to plotting.”

      ITT was subsequently awarded multi-million dollar contracts by the Nigerian government.

  • Haba mallam

    I thank God for this report, my leader my general has been vindicated, any one who is in the good books of the Americans is either a traitor a liar a informer or a spy and Murtala was none of that, intelligent and arrogant yes even the devilish whiteman fears this man unlike the cowards of today who could sell their countries for favors or even bring back slavery to be in the good books of the Americans.

  • Domingos

    I am amazed at the mumudity in all of you and in all of your comments. I know some of you posting comments here whose relatives are Nigerian ambassadors in foreign countries and all they do is organize owambe parties at every opportunity so they call steal monies without documentation. Compare to the US ambassadors all over the world who report constructively and advise their homeland on what strategic policy direction to take and the basis for engagement with their host countries. 42 years after, nothing has changed and if you children unfortunately become ambassadors tomorrow you will be no different. Yeye fowls!

  • The fact that never changes is that these semi illiterates that are unelected and unelectable ruled Nigeria for many decades. They are as corrupt as they get and they are unaccountable to any electorate. They laid the foundations of impunity and corruption in Nigeria. These generation of dictators ruined our nation.

    • thusspokez

      Indeed they were the pioneers of corruption in Nigeria.

      • emmanuel

        Did you just know? 18 suitcases of foreign exchange?

        • thusspokez

          “Did you just know” what?

  • Haba Mallam

    Shege PM

  • Lanre

    And 40 years after Murtala’s assassination, the country still has no electricity. The fault is not with any American assessment but the hopeless leadership/rulership in Nigeria from Gowon till date. And the American confirmed what we all now know: Hausa-Fulani Military officers have their own ethnic agenda.

  • Man_Enough

    The indigenisation policy of the duo was enough to steer hatred form the ambassador to the extent of spewing such bias assessment.

  • emmanuel

    Who is on the drivers seat with these release at this time of Somebody die or coma or holidaying? what is the name of the game? Is someone suddenly painting Buhari black in the mind of Nigeria? what is he or are they out to achieve? Are they part of those who loved Buhari so well before he began his latest vacation?
    Dora Akinyuli, why goest thou too soon the way of the World?

  • international games

    This piece is true. Murtala gave us this trouble we have today. What exactly was his reason for the overthrow of Gowon? The man is alone today. Is he a Billionaire? He was just a young man high on power. How can you fire 10,000 civil servants, thousands of soldiers, and remove Perm Secs without first doing a study on the consequences?
    Murtala failed, yet I still believe he thought he had a better direction for Nigeria. For that reason I think we should still consider him a National hero, if the massacre attributed to him during the war is false.

  • serubawon70

    Reindhart was appointed and served as American ambassador to Nigeria under Richard Nixon [and Gerald Ford] whose ‘southern strategy’ sent whites to the republican party and blacks to the democratic party. In tapes released recently Nixon’s opinion was that blacks have to be ‘in bred’ before they could cotribute to the strenghtening of ‘our country’ because blacks are ‘physically strong’ and ‘some are smart’. Obviously he didnt think much of Reindhart who was black. By that cable Reindhart was saying what his master liked to hear. Gerald Ford, Nixon’s successor was no different.

    • Gary

      Orange meet apple! So what has US domestic politics got to do with the REALITY of what Nigerians experienced? Did the American ambassador lie in the aftermath of what we lived through?
      You guys never cease to amaze with your juvenile attempts at obfuscation. Well, it worked in getting Buhari elected and our countrymen are having a jolly good time under his wise and competent leadership.
      In a few years, children born today will be told that he was a great anti-corruption crusader and the best President in the history of the country. Assuming they still allow history to be taught in the country. Or if there’s still a country.

  • Noble

    Gen Murtala Muhammad as Nigerian Head of State, at an OAU (now AU) meeting of Heads of African Govt, declared war on America. How else do you expect the US ambassador to Nigeria to react? indeed that Dimka coupe that murdered the General smells much of CIA odour.

  • Tonnero

    So where is the damning comment on Obasanjo? If it is the fact that he was suspected to be anti-American, that should be a positive comment.