General Buhari bares it all in an exclusive interview with The Sun
Buhari bares it all •I won’t forget what IBB did to me, although I’ve forgiven him •I’ve not forgiven Obasanjo •My civil war experiences •No regret shooting cocaine pushers
It's a very long interview so be prepared..:-). See it after the cut...
since the Supreme Court ruled on the 2011 presidential election, former
Head of State and candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change
(CPC), General Muhammadu Buhari, has always refused to grant an
elaborate interview on his experiences and feelings. However, on the
auspicious occasion of his 70th birthday, Buhari has finally spoken. In
an exclusive interview with Saturday Sun, he talked about his growing
up days, experiences in the Army, his emergence as head of state when he
never participated in any coup, the 1966 coup and the counter-coup, the
General Ibrahim Babangida coup that swept him out of office, the
execution of cocaine traffickers, Decree 4 and the controversial ‘53
suitcases’ that allegedly came into the country during his government.
He also spoke about his relationship with General Babangida, who he
said he had forgiven, although he would not forget what he did to him
and his plan for the 2015 elections, among others. Excerpts: What kind of childhood did you have?
Well, from my father’s side, we are Fulanis. You know the Fulanis are
really divided into two. There are nomads, the ones that if you drive
from Maiduguri and many parts of the North you will find. They are even
in parts of Delta now. And there are those who settled. They are cousins
and the same people actually. From my mother’s side and on her father’s
side, we are Kanuris from Kukawa. Where’s Kukawa? Kukawa is in
Borno State. We are Kanuris. On her mother’s side, we are Hausas. So,
you can see I am Hausa, Fulani, Kanuri combined (he laughs). I am the
23rd child of my father. Twenty-third and the 13th on my mother side.
There are only two of us remaining now; my sister and I. I went to
school, primary school, in Daura and Kaduna, also a primary school, in
Kachia. I also attended Kaduna Provincial Secondary School, now
Government College. I didn’t work for a day. I joined the military in
1962. You mean as a boy soldier? No, after school certificate.
There was an officer cadet school from here in Kaduna, called Nigeria
Military Training College then. In April 1962, I went to the United
Kingdom (UK), Mons Officers Cadet School. You mean the famous Mons Officers…?
Yes. And when I was commissioned, I came back and I was posted to 2nd
Infantry Battalion in Abeokuta. That was my first posting. The battalion
was in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I went there. When I came back
from there, I was first in Lagos, as Transport Officer. That was where I
was till the January coup. I was posted back to my battalion and we
were posted to Kaduna here. And then, there was a counter coup, civil
war, coup and counter-coup. We participated. I too was overthrown and
detained for more than three years. And having had that major political
setback when I was made a head of state and then, ended up in detention,
I went out and eventually, I decided to join party politics,
participated three times and lost as presidential candidate and I am
still in and fighting. You have never given up? Even though I
said at some stage that I wouldn’t present myself for candidature again,
I said I remain in party politics as long as I have breath in me. Your Excellency, why did you join the Army?
The interest was built while I was in secondary school. The emirs of
Katsina, from Dikko, were known to be interested in the military. They
always have members of the military or police in their family right from
World War 11. One of the emirs of Kaduna-Dikko died in Burma. And of
course, everybody in the country knows General Hassan, the son of the
Emir of Katsina. He was grandson of Emir Dukko. So, when General Hassan
was in Sandhurst, we were in secondary school in Kaduna. His father, the
Emir of Katsina, Usman Nagogo, used to ask him to go and talk to the
senior students who were in form four to six, to get them interested in
the military. And we were told that he deliberately wanted a military
cadet unit in Kaduna Secondary School. Then, it was limited to Federal
Government Colleges or Government Colleges and we had a military cadet
unit, which I joined. That was the transition? That was where the interest started. Did your parents object to it? No. Well, I didn’t know my father really. Oh! How old were you when he died?
I think I was about three, four years? I couldn’t remember his face.
The only thing I could recall about my father was the horse because it
threw me down. We were on the horse with one of my half brothers going
to water it and then, it tripped and I fell. It stepped on me. So, that
is the only impression I have of him. That is the only thing I could
recall. What of your mother? Oh! my mother died in 1988 when I was in detention. Ok, I remember then the controversy of allowing you to go and see her buried. Did they eventually allow you? No. Then it was quite an issue … Yeah, it became an issue; so I was immediately released after she was buried. You didn’t see her buried? No. It was after you were released you then went to her grave and all that? Exactly! What kind of childhood did you then have?
Well, you know communities then were living communal life. Clearly, I
could recall I reared cattle. We had cattle; we had sheep and then,
there was good neighbourhood. Not many children had the opportunity to
go to school, but I went to school. I left home at the age of 10 or 11
and went to school, like I said. And I was in the boarding school for
nine years. In primary school and secondary school, I was in the
boarding house and from there, I went straight into the Army. So, you have always been on your own?
In those days, there were not many schools and the teachers then were
professionals. They were working teachers and were committed. And
teachers then treated the children as if they were their own students.
You were made to work and if you don’t, they never spared the cane
really. So, I was lucky to be in the boarding school for my
impressionable years, nine years. I was very lucky. Did you play any pranks as a young person? Oh, certainly! What where the things you did? (Laughs) I wouldn’t like to mention them. Tell us some of them… We used to raid the emir’s orchard for mangoes mainly. Of course, unfortunately we were caught and punished.
When people talk of Buhari today, they are looking at a disciplined
man. Was it the boarding house that put you through that or the
military? Was the boarding house part of where you got your Spartan,
disciplined life? Both did. As I told you, the teachers then treated
their students as if they were their own children. So, we got the best
of attention from teachers. And as I told you, they never spared the
cane. You were meant to do your homework; you were meant to do the
sports and clean up the environment, the compound and the area of the
school and so on. And from that type of life, I moved into the military,
the military of that time. Would you say going into the military was the best thing that ever happened to you?
I think so, because from primary to secondary school and in the
military, it will continue, both the academic and the physical one. I
think it was so tough, but then, once it was inbuilt, it has to be
sustained because you don’t contemplate failure. You just succeed? Does it mean failure was not an option? No. It was not.
Was it also the Fulani training of perseverance? Because when you have
reared cattle, for those who have been doing it, they said it toughens
you… It did. The sun is there, the rain and you are there with your cattle…
The period was remarkable, in the sense that those who are brought up
in the city have limited space. If you are in a confined school, you
learn from the school and what you see immediately. But the nomad life
exposes you to nature. You will never learn enough of plants, of trees,
of insects and of animals. Everyday you are learning something. You
have seen them and everyday you are learning. You will never know all of
them. So, it is so vast that it takes a lot of whatever you can think
of. And then, the difference again in the environment. In the Savannah,
in the Sahel, after harvest, you can always see as high as your eyes can
go. And then, at night when there is moon, it is fantastic. So, I
enjoyed those days and they made a lasting impression in me.
What are the remarkable things you can think of during your military trainings?
Initially, from here in Kaduna, at the end of your training, the height
of the field exercise was then conducted in two places. Here in
southern Kaduna and somewhere in Kachia area. There was a thick belt in
that forest. You go for field firing and so on. And then you go to Jos
for map reading and endurance. That was why mathematics at that level,
the secondary school level, geometry and algebra, were absolutely
necessary. It had always been, because to be a competent officer, you
may be deployed to be in charge of artillery; physics, where you help
find your position. Wherever you are from, you work it on the ground in
degrees and so on. You have to do some mathematics. We were in Jos.
Again, I was made a leader of a small unit. We were given a map, a
compass and you dare not cheat. If you are found out, you are taken 10
miles back. So, you have to go across the country. You find your way
from the map; you go to certain points and on those points, mostly
hills, you climb them and you will get a box. The weather there is cold.
You put your own coat and you cover it over the hills and at the end of
the exercise, part of your scorecards, are those marks you won or you
lost. We arrived with one compass, which led us to a certain bushy hill. In Jos?
Yes, in Jos. And it was night, dark and it was raining lightly and
definitely, our compass led us to that hill, which means there was a
point there. And there were five of us: myself, one Sierra Leonean or
Ghanaian, one from Sokoto, and one other. I think the other person is
Katsina Alu, the former Chief Justice. You mean he was in the military?
He was. He did the training but he was never commissioned. He went to
university and did Law. I went up to the hill. I picked the box. I
copied the code, and I said if I were forced to join the Army, I would
have left the following day because that place, a viper or a snake or
something or hyena or lion could have finished me. But I said if I run
away the following day, people would say well we knew you couldn’t make
it, we knew you would be lazy. But because I voluntarily joined the
Army, I said I have to be there. That is one point. The second one was
when I was in training in the UK. I came there and we were drilled so
much and at night again, we were on an exercise. We were putting our
formation. In anyway position was created, and they fired at us. We went
down automatically that day and by the time the commander asked us to
move, I fell asleep. It must be few seconds, not up to a minute. That
was how exhausted I was. Was it really the cold or what? It was
cold. It was 1962. It was cold and it was rainy again just like in
Plateau. Just between the time we went down and to move and climb the
mountain, I fell asleep. So, those two moments, I would never forget
them. Who were your classmates in the military and in the officers’ training in the UK? Well, the late Gen. Yar’Adua. I was together with him throughout the nine years primary, secondary school and in the military. So, you have always been colleagues…? We were together from childhood. Ok, that is interesting. Who else?
Well, not the ones that are here. In the military, most of them did not
reach the position I reached; myself, and Yar’Adua. They couldn’t make
it. Why did you choose the infantry and not the other arms? What was the attraction?
Maybe it was the training of the cadet unit in secondary school. I
found the infantry much more challenging and when we were doing the
training, the Federal Government decided that we were going to have the
Air Force. So, I was invited. A team came from the Ministry of Defence
to interview cadets that wanted to be fighter pilots in the Air Force. I
was the first to be called in our group. I appeared before them and
they told me that those who could pass the interview would be
recommended to go to the Air Force training either in the UK, some went
to Ethiopia or United States or Germany. So, they asked me whether I
wanted to be a fighter pilot and I said no. They asked why, and I said I
wasn’t interested. We were given three choices. Number one, maybe you
went to infantry; number two, you went to reconnaissance then before
they became armour and later, maybe artillery. So, all my three choices,
I could recall vividly, I put infantry, infantry. So, they said why? I
said because I liked infantry. And they asked if I wouldn’t like to be a
fighter pilot. I said no, I didn’t want to join them. They said why. I
said I hadn’t done physics. Normally, I did some mathematics but to be a
fighter pilot, you must do some physics. They said no, that it was no
problem, that I could have an additional one academic year. So, since I
had some mathematics background, it was just one year purely to do
physics and I would reach the grade required to be a pilot. I said no, I
didn’t want it. They again asked why. I told them I chose infantry. The
reason is: when I am fighting and I was shot at, if I was not hit, I
can go down, turn back and take off by foot. They laughed and sent me
out. So, I remained infantry officer. Where were you during the coups and counter-coups? And what rank were you in the military then? I was in Lagos, in the barracks, as transport officer. I was only a second lieutenant. That was during the January 15, 1966 coup? Yes, January 15, 1966. The coup met you in Lagos?
Yes. I think that was my saddest day in the military because I happened
to know some of the senior officers that were killed. In the transport
company, after the 2nd Battalion and we came back, I was posted to Lagos
to be a transport officer and in my platoon, we had staff cars and
Landrovers. So, I knew the Army officers, from Ironsi, Maimalari,
because I detailed vehicles for them every working day. So, I knew
senior officers. So, you were in contact with them? I was in contact with them somehow because I was in charge of transportation. Where were you that night of January 15 coup? I was in Lagos. Can you recall the circumstance, how you got to know?
The way I got to know was, my routine then was as early as about six in
the morning, I used to drive to the garage to make sure that all
vehicles for officers, from the General Officer Commanding (GOC), who
was then General Ironsi, were roadworthy and the drivers would drive
off. And then, I would go back to the Officers Mess in Yaba, where I
would wash, have my breakfast and come back to the office. And around
the railway crossing in Yaba, coming out from the barracks, we saw a
wounded soldier. I stopped because I was in a Landrover. I picked him
and asked what happened. He said he was in the late Maimalari’s house
and they were having a party the previous night and the place was
attacked. So, I took the soldier to the military hospital in Yaba and I
asked after the commander. Maimalari, I think, was commander of 2
Brigade in Apapa. He was the 2 Brigade Commander. They said he was shot
and killed. Then, you didn’t know it was a coup? Well, that became a coup. That was the time I really learnt it was a coup. And then there was a counter-coup of July? Yes, July. Where were you at this time also? I was in Lagos again. I was still in Lagos then at Apapa at 2 Brigade Transport Company.
And then, there was ethnic colouration and all that. And at a point,
they asked some of you to go back to the North. Am I correct? Yes,
because I was posted back then to the battalion. That was in Abeokuta.
It was first to Ikeja Cantonment, but after the counter-coup, we were
taken to Lagos by train, the whole battalion. Did you play any role in the counter-coup? No! Not that I will tell you. You know at 70, you are reminiscing. You are saying it the way it is, you don’t give a damn anymore…
Well, there was a coup. That is all I can tell you. I was a unit
commander and certainly, there was a breakdown of law and order. So, I
was posted to a combatant unit, although 2 Brigade Transport Company was
a combatant unit. You know there were administrative and combatant
units and the service unit, like health, education. Even transport,
there are administrative ones, but there are combatant ones also. The question I asked was, did you play any specific role?
No. I was too junior to play any specific role. I was just a lieutenant
then. In 1966, January, I was a Second Lieutenant, but I was promoted, I
think, around April, May, or June to Lieutenant. And what were your impressions of that period?
You see, senior military officers had been killed and politicians, like
Sardauna, Akintola, Okotie Eboh. They were killed. And then in the
military, Maimalari, Yakubu Pam, Legima, Shodeinde, and Ademolegun; so
really, it had a tribal tinge. The first one? Yes. And then, there was a counter. One mistake gave birth to another one? Certainly, certainly. And then long years of military came? Oh yes. From 1967-75, it was Gowon. At that point in time, where were you?
When Gowon came into power, I wonder whether I would recall where I
was. It was July 1967 that Gowon came in. That was when I was in Lagos. I
was again in Lagos, then in the transport company. Then he took over? Yeah, Gowon took over or Gowon was installed. Well, more like you… (Laughs) Yes. And then in 1967? Civil war.
So, you have to give me that part because there are some books I have
read, that featured your name. So, what were your experiences during the
civil war? Well, I told you that we were parked into the rail to
Kaduna from Ikeja, 2nd Infantry Battalion and when states were created
by General Gowon, police action was ordered; we were moved to the border
in the East. We were not in Nsukka, but in Ogoja. We started from
Ogoja. And you took active part? Yeah. Well, I was a junior officer. Who was your GOC then? My GOC was the late General Shuwa.
How did you feel during that period of the civil war? Did you think
that when the first coup started, that civil war would just come?
No. I never felt so and I never hoped for it. Literally, you are trained
to fight a war but you are not trained to fight a war within your own
country. We would rather have enemies from outside your country to
defend your country, but not to fight among yourselves. Some of those officers you were fighting were your comrades… They were. You knew some of them.
Some of them were even my course mates. We were facing each other, like
when we were in Awka sector. The person facing me was called Bob
Akonobi. We were mates here. Robert Akonobi? Robert Akonobi. Who later became a governor? Yes. He was my course mate here in Kaduna. And there you were… Facing each other. It was really crazy. It was. It was unfortunate, but it is part of our national development. And the way we are going, you think it is a possibility again? I don’t think so. No, I don’t think so. After Gowon, Murtala came. Yes. By the time you were no longer a small officer… No. I was just, I think, a colonel? Was it a lieutenant colonel or major? I think I was a lieutenant colonel. But during the Obasanjo administration, you had become a minister, as it were. No. I first became a governor when Murtala came, in North-East. This same North East that is giving problem now. Yes. I was there and there were six states then: Yobe, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Adamawa and Taraba. And they were all under your control or command?
North East went up to Chad; anyway, they are on the same latitude with
Lagos. The bottom before you start going on the Plateau, Mambilla
Plateau, if you look here on the map, the same latitude was in Lagos and
then, up to Chad. That was the extent of the whole North East. Now, some of them can’t govern even one state… They are now six states. I know, but you governed six states and now, some of them have problems with one state… Yes. What were the challenges you faced governing the North East as a military governor?
Actually, at that time, because of competent civil service… I was a
military man but once you get to the rank of a lieutenant-colonel, after
major, you are being taught some management courses. It needs a few
weeks for somebody who has gone through the military management
training, you have junior staff college, senior staff college; by that
time, you will have enough experience for most administrative jobs
because you must have had enough of the combat ones. I think I didn’t
have much problem. And then, the competent civil servants. Civil
servants then were very professional. And not political as we have them now? No. They were really professionals and they can disagree with you on record, on issues. They were not afraid to make recommendations to the military governor or administrator?
No, they were never. People like the late Liman Ciroma, Waziri Fika,
who was eventually Secretary to the Government of Babangida. And the
late Abubakar Umar, who was Secretary to the Government of Bauchi State;
and the late Moguno. They were real professionals, committed
technocrats. So, you didn’t really have much challenges? No, not much challenges. There was no insecurity then, like we have in the North East today?
No, the police then, with their Criminal Investigation Department
(CID), were very, very competent. They interacted closely with the
people. So, criminals in the locality were easily identified and put
under severe surveillance. And really, there was relative peace in the
country. What were your major achievements in the North East as governor?
I think the way the state was divided into three; if you remember, it
became Borno, Bauchi and Gongola. So, the way we divided the assets,
including the civil service and so on, I think it was one of our
achievements because it was so peaceful then. We had a committee on
civil service. And eventually you became minister of petroleum under Obasanjo? Yes. That was the only ministry you held under Obasanjo? Yes.
During your time as petroleum minister, what were you doing differently
that they are not doing now that has made the sector totally rotten?
Well, I was lucky again. When I was made a minister, I met an
experienced man, a person of great personal integrity, the late Sunday
Awoniyi. He was the permanent secretary then before the Supreme
Military Council approved the merger of the Nigerian National Oil
Corporation (NNOC) and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and made
Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC). Sunday Awoniyi was then
the permanent secretary of the ministry. That was when I was sworn in
eventually, I think in 1977, it became NNPC when the ministry and the
NNOC were merged. He retired from the civil service. Another competent
technocrat, Morinho, he became the Director of Petroleum Resources and
he had a very competent team of Nigerian engineers, petroleum engineers
and chemical engineers. And as minister of petroleum, I signed the
contract for Warri Refinery, for Kaduna Refinery, for more than 20
depots all over the country, for laying of pipelines, more than 3200
kilometers and I couldn’t recall Nigeria borrowing a kobo for those
projects. And then, by the time I became head of state, because I went
to War College in the United States before the military handed over to
the Second Republic and came back in 1980 and then, there was coup at
the end of 1983. And that time, you can verify from Professor Tam
David-West who was Minister of Petroleum Resources. We were exporting
100,000 barrels per day of refined products. Exporting from the country? Yes, refined one. Refined one, not the raw one they are taking to import to…? No. 100, 000 barrels? Yes. Because we had four refineries then. They have all collapsed… Well, that is the efficiency of the subsequent governments!
You achieved so much success and all that. But there was an issue that
became quite contentious: N2.8billion. They said N2.8billion oil money
was missing. It couldn’t have been missing. The governor of the
Central Bank then, the late Clement Isong, said it was ridiculous, that
N2.8billion couldn’t be missing because he said even the king of Saudi
Arabia, couldn’t issue a cheque of N2.8billion. When you have paid your
money for petroleum, they are normally put in the country’s external
account and no bank will release that amount of money at a go because it
was deposited. And then, at that time, Nigeria was exporting about 1.82
million barrels a day. And the cost of barrel a day was about $18. You
work out N2.8billion. How could N2.8billion be missing and we still have
money to run the country? So, it was just a political… How did that issue come about? What happened and how did you feel during that period?
No, no. Shagari did the only honourable thing. He ordered a judicial
enquiry and put a serving Justice of the Supreme Court, the late Justice
Irikefe, to carry out investigation. And their terms of reference were
put there. They said anybody who had an idea of missing N2.8billion,
let him come and tell Justice Irikefe. Nobody had any evidence. It was
just rubbish. Well, later, Tai Solarin and Professor Awojobi were
confronted and Fela, the late Fela, to go and prove their case. They
had no evidence, most of them took the newspaper cuttings of their
allegations to the tribunal. As evidence? As their
evidence…Cuttings of newspapers publications where they said N2.8billion
was missing. That was their evidence. That was what they took to the
Irikefe panel. And Fela sang about it! Fela was your friend. He couldn’t have been, because of what Obasanjo regime did to him. Because we were part of Obasanjo regime.
There is one other incident that has also been in the public domain:
that Shagari gave you an order and you disobeyed your
commander-in-chief. What happened then? Which order was that? That he gave you an instruction not to go to war against Chad or something like that?
Well, that was when I became GOC. When I came back from War College, I
was in Lagos. Then, 4 Infantry Division was in Lagos, in Ikeja. I was in
War College when I was posted there before General Obasanjo’s
government handed over to Shagari. So, when I came, after about four
months or so, I was posted to Ibadan, to command 2 Infantry Division.
And after that, I was posted to Jos to command 3rd Armoured Division. It
was when I was there as the GOC that the Chadians attacked some of our
troops in some of the islands and killed five of them, took some
military hardware and some of our soldiers. Then, I went into Army
headquarters and told them then, the Chief of Army Staff then, General
Wushishi, why they shouldn’t just allow a country, our neighbour to move
into our territory, where we had stationed, to kill our people. So, I
moved into Maiduguri, former Tactical Headquarters, and I got them out
of the country. Something dramatic happened: I didn’t know I had gone
beyond Chad and somehow, Shagari, in the United States, was sent
pictures that I was with my troops and had gone beyond Chad, beyond Lake
Chad. So, I was given direct order by the president to pull out and I
did. Oh, you did? I did. I couldn’t have disobeyed the
president. So, I handed over the division to Colonel Ogukwe, who was my
course mate but was my… He was in National Population Commission (NPC)? I think so. Colonel Ogukwe. Yeah, he must have been. I handed over the tactical headquarters to him. So, you never went against presidential directive?
I couldn’t have. He was the Commander-in-Chief. But maybe it was too
slow for them, for me to withdraw, but you don’t disengage so quickly. But after that, Shagari was overthrown? Yes. Now, they said you were invited to head the government after the coup? Yes. As the most senior officer? Yes. What really happened because it was not a Buhari coup? No. Could we say you never plotted a coup throughout your military career? No. I didn’t plot a coup. You were not a coup plotter? No. You were invited? Yes. Where were you when you were invited?
I was in Jos. They sent a jet to me flown by one of General Gowon’s
younger brothers. He was a pilot. He told me that those who conducted
the coup had invited me for discussion. You went to Lagos? I
went to Lagos. I was flown to Lagos. Yes. And they said ok, those who
were in charge of the coup had said that I would be the head of state.
And I was. When you made that statement that ‘this generation of
Nigerians has no country other than Nigeria,’ for me it was like a JFK
statement asking Americans to think of what they could do for America.
Twenty months after, your same colleagues who invited you sacked you.
What happened? They changed their minds. They changed their
minds? So, what happened in between that, because part of what they said
when they took over power was that you had become “too rigid, too
uncompromising and arrogated knowledge of problems and solutions to
yourself and your late deputy, Idiagbon. What really happened? Well,
I think you better identify those who did that and interview them so
that they can tell you what happened. From my own point of view, I was
the chairman of the three councils, which, by change of the
constitution, were in charge of the country. They were the Supreme
Military Council, the Executive Council and the National Council of
State. I was the chairman of all. Maybe when you interview those who
were part of the coup, they will tell you my rigidity and whether I
worked outside those organs: the Supreme Military Council, the Council
of State and the Council of Ministers. Before I come to that, there
was also this issue of Decree 4, alleged drug peddlers who your regime
ordered shot. Looking back now, do you think you made mistake in those
areas? You see, maybe my rigidity could be traced to our insistence on the laws we made. But we decided that the laws must be obeyed. But they said it was retroactive.
Yes, they said so. But I think it should be in the archive; we said
that whoever brought in drugs and made Nigeria a transit point committed
an offence. These drugs, We We (Indian hemp), is planted here, but the
hard drug, cocaine, most Nigerians don’t know what cocaine is. They just
made Nigeria a transit point and these people did it just to make
money. You can have a certain people who grow Ashisha or We We and so on
because it is indigenous. Maybe some people are even alleging that
those who want to come for operation, brought the seed and started to
grow it in Nigeria. But cocaine, it is alien to our people. So, those
who used Nigeria as a transit, they just did it to make money. And this
drug is so potent that it destroys people, especially intelligent
people. So, the Supreme Military Council did a memo. Of course, I took
the memo to the Supreme Military Council and made recommendation and the
Supreme Military Council agreed. There was no dissenting voice?
There was no dissenting in the sense that majority agreed that this
thing, this cocaine, this hard drug was earning Nigeria so much bad name
in the international community because Nigeria was not producing it,
but Nigerians that wanted to make money didn’t mind destroying Nigerians
and other youths in other countries just to make money. So, we didn’t
need them. We didn’t need them. But there were pleas by eminent Nigerians not to kill the three men involved in the trafficking?
Pleas, pleas; those that they destroyed did they listen to their pleas
for them not to make hard drug available to destroy their children and
their communities? So, it is not something you look back now at 70 and say it was an error?
No, it was not an error. It was deliberate. I didn’t do it as an head
of state by fiat. We followed our proper system and took it. If I was
sure that the Supreme Military Council then, the majority of them
decided that we shouldn’t have done so, we could have reduced it to long
sentencing. But people who did that, they wanted money to build
fantastic houses, maybe to have houses in Europe and invest. Now, when
they found out that if they do it, they will get shot, then they will
not live to enjoy at the expense of a lot of people that became mental
and became harmful and detrimental to the society and so on, then they
will think twice. Decree 4 was what you used to gag the press?
Decree 4. You people (press), you brought in Nigeria factor into it.
When people try to get job or contract and they couldn’t get it, they
make a quick research and created a problem for people who refuse to do