I have no regret retiring politically exposed military officers – Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo [Photo credit: dailypost.ng]
Former President Olusegun Obasanjo [Photo credit: dailypost.ng]

A former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has said that he owed nobody apology for retiring politically exposed military officers during Nigeria’s return to democratic rule in 1999.

He made the disclosure on Tuesday in Abuja during the public presentation of a book titled “The First Regular Combatant: Brigadier Zakariya Maimalari,” authored by Haruna Poloma.

Mr. Maimalari was one of the military officers killed on the night of January 15, 1966 during the coup that brought Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi to power. He was the first regular combatant of the Nigerian Army.

Mr. Obasanjo paid tribute to Mr. Maimalari’s son, Abubakar, who was a former military administrator.

He explained why he compulsorily retired officers in 1999 including the younger Mr. Maimalari, a lieutenant colonel, stressing that he had held political positions that could engender fertile environment for the budding democracy to survive.

Mr. Obasanjo said he had no apology, but explanations to make.

“It is because it is necessary to stop the sort of thing that took the life of your father prematurely that I had to take decision that all those that have tasted of power that they should never have tasted of political offices while they were soldiers; that we should ease them out of the army so that we can have an army that will be completely free from political aberration”.

“And so far, since 1999, I think we seem to have got it right. Let us hope that we will continue to get it right and learn the right lessons that Nigeria has had enough sacrifices by those victims; that Nigeria deserves peace, unity and democracy.

And may the sacrifices of the life of Brig. Zak Maimalari be sufficient to give this country peace, development, unity and progress,” Mr. Obasanjo said.

The former president also expressed dissatisfaction with the military’s involvement in Nigeria’s political activities over the years, lamenting that Nigeria had witnessed enough bloodshed.

“The lesson we can learn is that we have had enough tragedy in this country; the Nigerian Army, particularly, has had the unfortunate situation where officers this country has spent a lot of money to train and who had been of great service to this country and to the Nigerian Army, had to be cut out in the prime of their life. Our lesson should be that this should never happen again,” he said.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, who was represented by Sulaiman Adamu, Minister of Water Resources, said the Nigerian landscape had been disfigured by appalling examples of poor leadership and bad governance because the youth were misled into feeling that there was total absence of idealism and heroism in the country.

But with chronicles on exemplary Nigerians like Mr. Maimalari, who he described as a man that has carved a place for himself in history as if he lived for eternity, despite living for only 34 years, Mr. Osinbajo said history would be a useful tool in the propagation of good examples.

“Without a grounding in history, how do we know who we are, where we come from, and more importantly, as a people, where are we going?” he said.

The acting president had earlier blamed successive poor leadership in the country on the abolition of the study of History in schools.

He said it was the reason the present administration recovered “History from where it has been ignored for far too long and placed it back firmly in the school curriculum.”

A former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, also spoke at the event describing Mr. Maimalari as a selfless and courageous military officer.


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  • Revosvivas

    Premium Times Editor,

    General Obasanjo hardly ever gets anything right in his 80-year existence. He does not know but does not know
    that he does not know. There is nothing wrong with a swift military intervention to rid Nigeria of the corrupt set
    of charlatan politicians he belongs. What was wrong was a set of soldiers of fortune – which he also belongs,
    which held Nigeria at gunpoint for the purpose of robbing the country. Nigeria is prostrate today and gasps
    for breath from the stranglehold of notorious thieves comprising ex-army generals and career criminals
    self-described as politicians. Against that axis of evil, a revolutionary force of military intervention is the
    solution because overwhelming force is what’s needed to liberate Nigeria from treasury thieves.

    • FreeNigeria

      Well said, the Otta monkey just won’t hide his ugly

      • Julius

        I was waiting for the insults…..here we go !!

    • Julius

      “General Obasanjo hardly ever gets anything right in his 80-year existence. He does not know but does not know
      that he does not know”.

      Really ? I wonder how old you are and what do you know and what have you achieved in life that is better than him ? . What are your contributions if any to the country? It’s so easy being on a free faceless website talking crap. Since you knows everything maybe you should tell us about yourself and your usefulness to the country . Abegi, cut out the crap.


        Some people don’t even fear God at all. You are talking about Baba like that. What is his offence? A good example for our generation, a man who teaches us courage and wisdom. I pray for Baba that God will help him to end well and finish life joyfully in Christ Jesus, that he will not miss the eternity. Please, let all youths fear elders, most especially those whose legacies will keep on speaking after they have gone. Baba Obasanjo is great! May our heavenly keep him on the list of longevity, prosperity and sound health in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.

        • Julius

          Ma dawon lohun jor. Awon oloriburuku !. They have nothing to offer but insults to those that have tried and the folks trying to offer anything positive to the country. You wanna leave, leave and give the rest of us some breathing space. They would have been better of spending as much time for planning as they do making noise. Obj is not perfect but, there is no perfect human-being. He don try , abeg, now try ya own and see how easy it is.

  • bashkano

    There had not been one single Nigerian Head of State that did not contribute in one way or the other to the development of this nation. Our problem only is that we tend to judge our leaders from the myopic perception of ethnic differences.. President Obasanjo had his leadership weaknesses but he had undoubtedly achieved many successes during his tenure, particularly his singular efforts in reforming the Civil Service that saved the Government a lot of unnecessary expenditures which otherwise were misappropriated by the Civil Servants. He equally helped the Civil Servants by introducing some incentives in the Service that helped to cushion the sufferings of the middle and junior ones.