Why I did not promote myself to General as Nigeria’s Head of State — Buhari

Former Head of State, Muhammadu Buhari
Muhammadu Buhari

A former Head of State, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (Rtd),  has given insight into why he remained a Major General rather than promote himself to the rank of full General while he reigned as Nigeria’s Head of State between December 31, 1983 and  August 27, 1985.

Speaking in Zaria on Friday at the presentation of the books, “Nigerian Military in Politics, 1966-2011″ and “Politics of Transition to Civil Rule In Nigeria”, Mr. Buhari said rather than promote himself after getting to power,  he was more concerned with how to rebuild Nigeria and enthrone a regime of justice , accountability and transparency.

He said he also believed the fact that his colleagues in the military asked him to lead the country did not make him the overall general of the armed forces.

“It was the conviction of our regime that, being the Head of State and Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, it does not mean that you are the overall General,” Mr. Buhari, who spoke on military incursion in Nigerian politics, said.

“My ultimate goal as at then was to ensure the integrity, justice, equity, accountability and transparency in the system. That was why I did away with unnecessarily promoting myself to General.”

Apart from Major General Johnson Thomas Aguiyi-Ironsi, who ruled Nigeria between January 16, 1966 and July 19, 1966 (when he was killed in a bloody military coup), all other military predecessors and successors of Mr. Buhari were full Generals.

No matter their ranks, they were quick in promoting themselves to General on assumption of office as heads of state.

From Yakubu Gowon (August 1, 1966- July 29, 1975) who became head of state  while he was lieutenant colonel, to Murtala Muhammed (July 29, 1975 – February 13, 1976), Olusegun Obasanjo (February 13, 1976-October 1, 1979) Ibrahim Babangida (August 27, 1985-August 27, 1993), Sani Abacha (November 17, 1993-June 8, 1998) and Abdulsalami Abubakar (June 8, 1998- May 29, 1999), whose ranks ranged between Brigadier and Major General before getting to power,  all Nigeria’s military leaders left or were forced out as Generals.

Mr. Buhari was asked to take over as head of state in 1983 after officers, led by Ibrahim Babangida, toppled the administration of the democratically elected President Shehu Shagari.

For the about two years he was in power, he broke tradition by refusing to promote himself to the rank of General. It was as Major General that his regime was sacked by dissident officers, again led by  Mr. Babangida, in 1985.

Mr. Buhari was  then detained in Benin till 1988.

But less than two years after getting to office, Mr. Babangida promoted himself to full general. That  tradition of self-promotion continued through Mr. Abdulsalami, who retired as General in 1999, after handing over power to Mr. Obasanjo, who had a second coming as civilian president.

Back to the books presentation, Mr. Buhari, who unsuccessfully contested for the office of president in 2003, 2007 and 2011, said past military regimes were dogged by corruption and abuse of office.

He said the military had no place in politics but that past interventions were due to the failure of politicians to respect the rule of law and avoid “corruption and lack of accountability”.

The chairman of the occasion and former Secretary-General of the defunct Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), Aliyu Umar, described the books as important resource materials in the study of Nigerian politics.

“The two books are reflection of the present Nigerian political scenario,” he said.

The books were published by Nuhu Ramalan, the head of political science department, Federal College Education, Zaria.



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  • Tony

    Stupid story. A coup plotter. We are watching

    • yoruba boy

      Why is it that most of you guys from N/Delta are brainless? Apart from very few like Tam David West and Ameachi all of you appears clueless. For example can you tell me what is useless in this story? Anyway you guys can continue to loot and steal as much as you wish because that is only thing you guys know apart from ogogoro

      • Afam

        You just said nothing but calling a whole region clueless,can you define the meaning of the choice of word you just used? If all the Niger deltans clueless what of your brother who spent 8 years on the seat without fixing the only road that will open up his region? Between him and GEJ who just flagged off the road who is clueless? Buhari is a dictator and can not do well in a democratic regime…

    • Olu

      @Tony. What’s stupid in that story? Prosperity is there to judge everyone of us. Judging with a pipe view, condeming for selfish interest will not move our country forward. It is easy to know for inteligent minds if one is being paid to make such a comment of yours. Until you and I put our conscience first before we can have or see Nigeria of our dream.

  • Mani_Kay

    meaningless talk from a brutal ethno religious dictator……..a waste of readers time……..trademark of Nigeria’s most incompetent military Head of State (Buhari) who was justifiably kicked out office……the only ruler whose exit from office was widely celebrated in the streets by Nigerians.

    • mama kay

      Idiots like mani-Kay, deri et al are so blinded by their ethno- religious folly that everything for them must be seen through this bias. Buhari and Murtala remain the only patriotic leaders Nigeria ever had.
      Your SE ruler and his cohorts can only wish they had 10% of the goodness in this man.
      Of all the contenders, Buhari is the only man who has my vote

      • Mani_Kay

        How can you say that Buhari and Murtala are patriotic leaders? These two leaders are recorded in history as the worst gross violators of the stipulations of the Nigerian constitution. They are also recorded in Nigeria’s history as the worst gross violators of basic human rights. How then can you say that they are patriotic leaders? The only “positive” thing I remember that Murtala accomplished as Head of State was that he started the preparation of the documents needed to enable Nigeria join the OIC (Organization of Islamic Countries) contrary to the stipulations of the Nigerian constitution. I also remember that the only “positive” thing Buhari accomplished while in office was to complete the preparation of documents needed to enable Nigeria join the OIC which Murtala was working on before he died. IBB merely submitted the OIC documents completed by Buhari. Yet you say that Murtala and Buhari are patriotic leaders despite their gross violations of all aspects of the Nigerian constitution even in matters relating to the composition of the then Supreme Military Council which they chaired. May be you are right. They are patriotic leaders for the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani.

    • Kasarawa

      Did you hear what Mama kay said? ” Murtala and Buhari remain the only patriotic leaders Nigeria ever had. Murtala was assasinated with the help of the British because they were afraid that with the rapid developments in terms of infrastracture, economy and good governance, one day Nigeria will cease to be their former colony but rather their master.

    • Rilwanu Sabo

      At least he achieved what you and your entire low life miserable family will never achieve. Bigot, paid agent you can only say that to gullible minds covered with sentiment like yours.

      • Afam

        what did he achieved ? road or light or rail way? which one? Many of you sees this man as your messiah but he is not but among the people who took Nigeria backward…I know some of you will never like to hear the truth but i don’t care what you will reply or likes of you will reply…The truth is this Buhari will never do well in a democracy…Thank you.

  • kpokpo

    Whether you are field marshal you are haram Mr Buhari

  • Olu from South Africa

    @Tony. What’s stupid in that story? Prosperity is there to judge everyone of us. Judging with a pipe view, condeming for selfish interest will not move our country forward. It is easy to know for inteligent minds if one is being paid to make such a comment of yours. Until you and I put our conscience first before we can have or see Nigeria of our dream.

  • Ndidi

    What I am against is the Hausa-Fulani “born to rule” delusion, which must be stopped. However, I have much respect for General Buhari. He is African like me so he is my senior brother. When British Occupation of Nigeria came to an end, those oyinbos sowed the seeds of tribal hatred among us, a “divide and rule” which I refuse to be a part of. Not only will it mean going to Hell since we all can be sure hatred is not of God, but I refuse to allow my mind to be manipulated by oyinbo too. Gen Buhari, like ALL of us is not perfect and he has made mistakes. He is however right now, the only Nigerian politician who has the strength to tackle corruption. Until corruption is killed off we can forget development. The Hausa-Fulani agenda has made things difficult for Gen Buhari so it is now unlikely he would win if he becomes a Presidential candidate. But he would still be able to save us from corruption if he gets given a VP (or ministerial) post with a special role of “Anti-Corruption Tsar”, that is with a special role to seriously tackle corruption EVERYWHERE, then he would be an asset and well remembered in history.

    • Rilwanu Sabo

      You most be day dreaming. Did you just mentioned VP or minister? You definitely dont know the man Buhari. You are ignorant of politics.

    • Mani_Kay

      I disagree with you completely. Buhari is not fit for the post of VP. He is not also fit for the post of Minister. All these positions require persons of sound mind. But Buhari is not a person of sound mind. If he was a person of sound mind he should have known that Nigeria is not a conquered territory of the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani.

      • Tripple_light

        Nigerians will decide. This time will be different. Never again shall we be cowed by religious and ethnic bigotry. Enough!

    • Bala R

      These Hausa fools are hosting your brothers and sisters. We can revoke our land and close the shops.

    • Usman

      I couldn’t agree with you more..



  • Mani_Kay

    Nigerians have overwhelmingly rejected Buhari as their Head of State/President four times yet you are telling me that there is some good in this incompetent, uneducated, brutal, murderous, inhuman power hungry dictator called Buhari. Are you telling me that you know better than over 400miliion Nigerians that have at one time or the other rejected Buhari. For your information, Buhari is not even a Muslim. He is only using Islam as cover to mask his wicked heart. Just look at the wicked treatment he extended to his wife immediately he came out of house arrest during the IBB regime. Justifiably, Buhari should be tried and executed for the murder of Bernard Ogedengbe (29years). Buhari should be tried and hanged for the death of innocent NYSC members and other Nigerians during the 2011 Presidential elections. Buhari should also be tried and hanged for all the murderous and destructive activities of the military wing of his political machine called Boko Haram. Buhari should tried and sentenced to life imprisonment for creating ethno religious tension in Nigeria. etc. etc. etc. The point is that Buhari is nothing but a common criminal who must have his God to thank that the long arms of the law has not yet caught up with him.

  • Musanga

    I am from Niger-Delta. In 2011 I voted for Buhari and i am also a follower of El-Rufai. I did not allow ethnicity to becloud my decision. I watch them very closely for years. I can confidently tell you that they both are ethnic and religious bigot. They are only patriotic for the Hausa/Fulani course. Yes they are in opposition, but they should draw a line between criticizing the govt and contributing and supporting the govt when the arises. Unfortunately if they are waiting for their turn, which may never happen, or they may never see again an entity called Nigeria. For us to remain, they should do only what opposition should do. Contribute where necessary. For me, Buhari and El-rufai are hypocrites. Give power to Buhari, Nigeria would be like Egypt in the days of Mohammed Mohammed Morsi.

    • Afam

      You just told them the truth…Give buhari power Nigeria will be like Egypt…in the time of Morsi who sees his country as his religious party branch…

  • Mani_Kay

    For those dubiously claiming that Buhari is a capable leader, I would like to meet them with facts.…….. Mallam Aminu Kano founded a party PRP and that party won the governorship election in his home State: Kano. They were also victorious in Kaduna State. ==== Mallam Waziri Ibrahim founded a party GNPP and that party won the governorship election in his home State: Borno. ===== Chief Obafemi Awolowo founded a party UPN and that party won the governorship election in his home State: Ogun. They were also victorious in all the South West States including Bendel and Kwara States. ===== Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe founded a party NPP and that party won the governorship election in his home State: Anambra. They were also winners in Imo State plus in far away Plateau State. ==== Chief Emeka Odumegwu founded a party APGA and that party won the governorship election in his home State: Anambra. They were also winners in Imo State. ===== Bola Tinubu founded a party ACN and that party won the governorship election in his home State: Lagos State. They were also winners in Oyo, Ogun, Ekiti, Osun and Edo States. ==== THIS IS MOST INSTRUCTIVE ===== Buhari founded a party CPC and that party unlike the others DID NOT WIN the governorship election in his home: Katsina. The party Buhari founded is in deep turmoil and crisis. As I write this comment, the original registration certificate of that party is in the custody of the Rufai Hanga faction of the party while Buhari had gone to court to lie in an affidavit that the certificate is missing. I have gone to all this length to demonstrate that Buhari is not a good leader. Please observe that the other political leaders I listed here demonstrated capability and led their parties to victory at least in their home states. But it is not the same with Buhari who clearly does not have what it takes to lead people. Buhari is embarrassingly incompetent as I have demonstrated within this brief comment. How can a man who cannot effectively manage even a very small political party that he founded be saddled with the task of leading a complex country like Nigeria that posts a population of over 160million people. It is unheard of any where in the world. He should just get out of the political scene. If he refuses to heed my advice, he is bound to weep to his grave when Tinubu finishes dealing with him. Bola Tinubu will give him the most devastating political shock of his life; he will surely disgrace Buhari out of politics.

    • bashwaziri

      Ur assumptions are quite hilarious! A man that formed a political party single handedly within 6 MONTHS and still won some federal seats and came in second (apart from PDPig’s massive rigging) in the general election. Also, gave PDPigs a tough time that they resort to all kinds of blackmailin to tarnish his image, is still not relevant politically? Guy, wake up from ur dreams

  • Mani_Kay

    Haba!!! Was it not this same Buhari that wickedly stopped the Lagos Metro rail line that was meant to serve the masses? Was it not this same Buhari that so destroyed the Nigerian economy and brought severe and untold hardship on ordinary Nigerians to the extent that Nigerians had to queue and die for essential commodities like milk, rice, sugar, salt? Can you to mention one critical infrastructure built by Buhari during his draconian rule? None!!!!

  • martins

    Nigerians don’t need him any more .

  • Al

    Buhari/Tinubu presidency 2015 most happen at all cost as far as numbers counts in democracy, it either u are us or not but for sure simple majority wil work this time.