Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida GCFR (born 17 August 1941) popularly known as IBB; nicknamed, "Maradona" or "The Evil Genius", is a retired Nigerian Army general who ruled the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 27 August 1985 until his resignation in August 1993. He served as Chairman of the Armed Forces Ruling Council from 1985 to 1993 and Chief of Army Staff from 1984 to 1985; going on to orchestrate his seizure of power in a palace coup d'ètat against Muhammadu Buhari. He rose through the ranks of the Nigerian Army fighting in the Nigerian Civil War and at various times being involved in all the military coups in Nigeria, before advancing to the full-rank of a General and ultimately as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces; and as an unelected President and military strongman from 1985 to 1993, ruling for an uninterrupted period of eight years. His years in power, colloquially known as the Babangida Era, are considered one of the most controversial in the military history of the country, and characterized by a burgeoning political culture of corruption in Nigeria, with Babangida and his regime estimated at least 12 billion dollars (23.9 billion today).
Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida
|8th President of Nigeria|
27 August 1985 – 26 August 1993
|Preceded by||Muhammadu Buhari as Military Head of State of Nigeria|
|Succeeded by||Ernest Shonekan as Interim Head of State of Nigeria|
|Chief of Army Staff|
January 1984 – August 1985
|Preceded by||Mohammed Wushishi|
|Succeeded by||Sani Abacha|
|Born||17 August 1941|
Minna, Northern Region, British Nigeria
(now Minna, Nigeria)
(m. 1969; died 2009)
|Children||4, including Mohammed Babangida|
|Alma mater||Royal Armoured Centre|
|Years of service||1962–93|
|Battles/wars||Nigerian Civil War|
The Babangida government oversaw the establishment of a state security apparatus; survived two coup d'ètat attempts and the subsequent execution of Mamman Vatsa (1985) and Gideon Orkar (1991) alongside the trial of hundreds of soldiers; assassination in Lagos of Dele Giwa (1986). The regime also faced a series of ethnic and religious outbreaks related to the fallout of Babangida's decision to increase cooperation with the Muslim world and rise in extremist tendencies. On the continent his rule projected the country as a regional power with diplomatic successes including the Abuja Treaty and the military engagement of Nigerian troops in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Abroad, Babangida's military government cemented traditional relations with the English-speaking world of the United States and United Kingdom; and implemented economic liberalization and the privatization of state-owned enterprises alongside a national mass mobilization. The fall of Babangida and his regime was precipitated by the transition towards the Third Nigerian Republic and subsequent militarization of politics in the 1993 presidential election which Babangida annulled.
Ibrahim Babangida was born on 17 August 1941 in Minna to his father, Muhammad Babangida and mother Aisha Babangida. He received early Islamic education before attending primary school from 1950 to 1956. From 1957 to 1962 Babangida attended Government College Bida, together with classmates Abdulsalami Abubakar, Mamman Vatsa, Mohammed Magoro, Sani Bello, Garba Duba, Gado Nasko and Mohammed Sani Sami. Babangida joined the Nigerian Army on 10 December 1962, where he attended the Nigerian Military Training College in Kaduna.
Babangida received his commission as a second lieutenant as a regular combatant officer in the Royal Nigerian Army (a month before it became the Nigerian Army) with the personal army number N/438 from the Indian Military Academy on 26 September 1963. Babangida attended the Indian Military Academy from April to September 1963.
He was Commanding Officer of 1 Reconnaissance Squadron from 1964 to 1966. From January 1966 to April 1966, Babangida attended the Younger Officers Course at the Royal Armoured Centre in the United Kingdom – where he received instruction in gunnery and the Saladin armored car.
Following the outbreak of the civil war, Babangida was recalled and posted to the 1st Division under the command of General Mohammed Shuwa. In 1968, he became commander of the 44 Infantry Battalion which was involved in heavy fighting within Biafran territory. In 1969, during a reconnaissance operation from Enugu to Umuahia, the battalion came under heavy enemy fire and Babangida was shot on the right side of his chest. He was then hospitalized in Lagos, and was given the option of removing the bullet shrapnel, which he refused and still carries with him. Away and recovering from his wounds, Babangida married Maryam King on 6 September 1969. He returned to the war front in December 1969, commanding a battalion. In January 1970, Babangida was informed by his sectional commander General Theophilus Danjuma of the capitulation of the Biafran Army to the federal military government in Lagos, signaling the end of the war.
In 1970, following the war Babangida was promoted twice and posted to the Nigerian Defence Academy as an instructor. In 1973, he was made commander of the 4 Reconnaissance Regiment. In 1975, he became the commander of the Nigerian Army Armoured Corps. Babangida attended several defence and strategy courses. From August 1972 to June 1973, he attended the Advanced Armoured Officers Course at the United States Army Armor School. From January 1977 to July 1977, he attended the Senior Officers Course at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji. From 1979 to 1980, he attended the Senior Executive Course at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies. From 1981 to 1983, he was the Director of Army Staff Duties and Plans.
Rise to power
Lieutenant Babangida was posted with the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron in Kaduna, and witnessed the events of the bloody coup d'état of 1966, which resulted in the assassination of Sir Ahmadu Bello. Alongside several young officers from Northern Nigeria, he took part in the July counter-coup led by Murtala Mohammed which ousted General Aguiyi Ironsi replacing him with General Yakubu Gowon. In 1975, Colonel Babangida as Commander of the Amoured Corps was a key participant in the coup d'état of 1975 that brought General Murtala Mohammed to power. He was later appointed as one of the youngest members of the Supreme Military Council from 1 August 1975 to October 1979.
Colonel Babangida crushed almost single-handedly the coup d'état of 1976 that resulted in the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed by taking back control of the Radio Nigeria station from the main perpetrator, Lieutenant Colonel Buka Suka Dimka (a close friend of his), to prevent him making further announcements over the air waves. Dimka later escaped, and was arrested in Eastern Nigeria and later publicly executed in May 1976.
Brigadier General Babangida orchestrated the coup d'ètat of 1983 as Director of Army Staff Duties and Plans which led to overthrew the Second Republic, with financial backing from his close associate and businessman Moshood Abiola. Babangida alongside his other co-conspirators later appointed the most senior serving officer at the time General Muhammadu Buhari as military head of state from 1983 to 1985; and Babangida was promoted and appointed as Chief of Army Staff and member of the Supreme Military Council.
Following the coup d'état of 1983, General Babangida (then Chief of Army Staff) started scheming to overthrow military head of state General Muhammadu Buhari. The palace coup of 1985 was orchestrated with a degree of military deftness hitherto not seen in the history of coup plotting. The whole affair carried out by Babangida as ringleader was planned at the highest levels of the army cultivating his strategic relationship with allies: Sani Abacha, Aliyu Gusau, Halilu Akilu, Mamman Vatsa, Gado Nasko, and younger officers from his days as an instructor in the military academy (graduates of the NDA's Regular Course 3), and gradually positioned his allies within the echelons of military hierarchy.
The execution of the palace coup was initially delayed due to General Tunde Idiagbon the 6th Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters and ruthless second-in-command to General Muhammadu Buhari. At midnight on 27 August 1985, the plot metamorphosised with four Majors: Sambo Dasuki, Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, Lawan Gwadabe, and Abdulmumini Aminu detailed to arrest the head of state. By daybreak, the conspirators had taken over the government and Babangida flew into Lagos from Minna where he was announced as the new commander-in-chief in a radio broadcast by General Sani Abacha. Babangida justified the coup in a speech describing General Muhammadu Buhari's military regime as "too rigid".
Babangida ruling by decree promulgated his official title as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and placed Muhammadu Buhari under house arrest in Benin until 1988. He established the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) as the highest lawmaking council serving as Chairman; he also restructured the national security apparatus, tasking General Aliyu Gusau as Co-ordinator of National Security directly reporting to him in the president's office he created the: State Security Service (SSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).
In December 1985, Hundreds of military officers were arrested, some were tried, convicted and eventually executed for conspiring to overthrow the General Babangida – the conspirators were alleged to have been led by General Mamman Vatsa, who was Babangida's childhood friend. On 22 April 1990, Babangida's government was almost toppled by a failed coup led by Major Gideon Orkar. Babangida was at the Dodan Barracks, the military headquarters and presidential residence, when they were attacked and occupied by the rebel troops, but managed to escape by a back route. Orkar and 41 of his conspirators were countered, captured by government troops. They were convicted of treason. On 27 July 1990, they were all executed by firing squad.
On 23 September 1987, Babangida created two states: Akwa Ibom State and Katsina State. On 27 August 1991, Babangida created nine more states: Abia, Enugu, Delta, Jigawa, Kebbi, Osun, Kogi, Taraba and Yobe. Bringing the total number of states in Nigeria to thirty in 1991. Babangida also increased the share of oil royalties and rents to state of origin from 1.5 to 3 percent. Babangida and his Ministers of the Federal Capital Territory led by Mamman Vatsa, Hamza Abdullahi and later General Gado Nasko, led the regime's relocation of the seat of government from Lagos to Abuja on 12 December 1991.
The Babangida administration initially differed greatly from General Muhammadu Buhari's in terms of human rights, initially releasing journalists and political prisoners. In 1986, Babangida was believed to have ordered the assassination of Dele Giwa. Giwa, a magazine editor, was critical of the Babangida administration. He was killed by a letter bomb in his home in Lagos, after two men dropped the parcel with the inscription – "From the office of the C-in-C" and was marked "secret and confidential" – opening the parcel, an explosion occurred and Dele Giwa was subsequently killed. Investigations were conducted into the assassination but the murder remains unsolved.
In 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo established the Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission headed by Justice Chukwudifu Oputa to investigate human rights abuses which occurred during the military junta's of 1966-1979 and 1983-1999. However, Babangida repeatedly defied summons to appear before the panel to answer allegations of humans rights abuses and questioned both the legality of the commission and its power to summon him. He was however represented by counsels, Mustapha Bashir Wali and Yahya Mahmoud. His right not to testify was upheld in 2001 by Nigeria's court of appeal which ruled that the panel did not have the power to summon former heads of states. The Oputa Panel Report would conclude that: "On General Ibrahim Babangida, we are of the view that there is evidence to suggest that he and the two security chiefs, Brigadier General Halilu Akilu and Col. A. K. Togun are accountable for the untimely death of Dele Giwa by letter bomb. We recommend that this case be re-opened for further investigation in the public interest."
In 1986, Nigeria joined the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation an international organisation considered the "collective voice of the Muslim world". This move was welcomed in Northern Nigeria, where there is a Muslim majority population. However non-Muslims criticised the move likening it to an Islamisation agenda of Nigeria, a secular country. Babangida's then second-in-command Commodore Ebitu Okoh Ukiwe, opposed the decision to join the Islamic organization and was removed as Chief of General Staff.
In the 1987, serious outbreaks between Christians and Muslims occurred in Kafanchan in southern Kaduna State in a border area between the two religions, propagated by extreme leaders who were able to rally a young, educated group of individuals who were feared that the nation would not be able to protect their religious group. The leaders were able to polarize their followers through speeches and public demonstrations. Exploitation of the media used to propagate the ideas of the conflict, thereby radicalising each force even more. Media was biased on each side so while places like the Federal Radio Corporation discussed the idea of defending Islam during this brief moment of terror, it did not report the deaths and damage caused by Muslims, galvanising the Muslim population. Similarly, the Christian papers did not report the damage and deaths caused by Christians but rather focused on the Islamic terror. Other individuals leading these religious movements use the media to spread messages which gradually became more intolerant of other religions, and because of these religious divisions radical Islam continues to be a problem in Nigeria today.
Babangida strengthened the foreign relations of Nigeria. He rejected apartheid in South Africa, involved Nigerian troops in the Liberian Civil War, hosted the Abuja Treaty which gave rise to the African Union and enhanced relations with the United States and United Kingdom.
Between 1983 and 1985, the country suffered an economic crisis. In 1986, Babangida launched the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP), with support from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, to restructure the Nigerian economy. The policies involved in the SAP were:
- deregulation of the agricultural sector to include abolition of marketing boards and elimination of price controls
- privatisation of public enterprises
- devaluation of the Nigerian naira to improve the competitiveness of the export sector
- relaxation of restraints on foreign investment put in place by the Gowon and Obasanjo governments during the 1970s.
Between 1986 and 1988, these policies were executed as intended by the IMF, and the Nigerian economy actually did grow as had been hoped, with the export sector performing especially well. But falling real wages in the public sector and among the urban classes, along with a drastic reduction in expenditure on public services, set off waves of rioting and other manifestations of discontent that made sustained commitment to the SAP difficult to maintain.
In 1987, Babangida launched the Mass Mobilization for Self Reliance, Social Justice and Economic Recovery (MAMSER), following a recommendation from the Political Bureau, to increase self reliance and economic recovery. The mass mobilization policies involved in the MAMSER were:
- re-orient Nigerians to shun waste and vanity, promoting economic recovery
- shed all pretenses of affluence in their lifestyle, promoting self reliance
- propagate the need to eschew all vices in public life, including corruption, dishonesty, electoral and census malpractices, ethnic and religious bigotry, promoting social justice.
Babangida contributed to the development of national infrastructure. He finished the construction of the Third Mainland Bridge, the largest bridge on the continent at the time. His administration also saw the completion of the dualising of the Kaduna-Kano highway. Babangida also completed the Shiroro Hydroelectric Power Station. He had the Toja Bridge in Kebbi constructed. He also created the Jibia Water Treatment Plant and the Challawa Cenga Dam in Kano. Bababngida also founded the Federal Road Safety Corps in order to better manage the national roads.
Shortly after coming to power General Babangida established the Nigerian Political Bureau of 1986. The bureau was inaugurated to conduct a national debate on the political future of Nigeria, and was charged amongst other things to "Review Nigeria’s political history and identify the basic problems which have led to our failure in the past and suggest ways of resolving and coping with these problems." The exercise was the broadest political consultation conduced in Nigerian history.
In 1989, Babangida started making plans for the transition to the Third Nigerian Republic. He legalized the formation of political parties, and formed the two-party system with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and National Republican Convention (NRC) ahead of the 1992 general elections. He urged all Nigerians to join either of the parties, which the late Chief Bola Ige famously referred to as "two leper hands." The two-party state had been a Political Bureau recommendation. In November 1991, after a census was conducted, the National Electoral Commission (NEC) announced on 24 January 1992 that both legislative elections to a bicameral National Assembly and a presidential election would be held later that year. A process of voting was adopted, referred to as Option A4. This process advocated that any candidate needed to pass through adoption for all elective positions from the local government, state government and federal government.
The 1992 parliamentary election went ahead as planned, with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) winning majorities in both houses of the National Assembly, but on 7 August 1992, the NEC annulled the first round of 1992 presidential primaries. Babangida annulled the 7 August presidential primaries which Shehu Yar'Adua emerged as the SDP presidential candidate and Adamu Ciroma as the NRC candidate order to get rid of the old guard in both parties. In January 1993, Babangida rejigged the ruling military junta – the AFRC – replacing it with the National Defence and Security Council, as the supreme decision-making organ of the regime. He also appointed Ernest Shonekan Head of the Transitional Council and de jure Head of Government. At the time, the transitional council was designed to be the final phase leading to a scheduled hand over to an elected democratic leader in the slated for 1993 presidential election.
On 12 June 1993, the presidential election was finally held. The results though not officially declared by the National Electoral Commission – showed the duo of Moshood Abiola and Babagana Kingibe of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) defeated Bashir Tofa and Slyvester Ugoh of the National Republican Convention (NRC) by over 2.3 million votes in the 1993 presidential election. The elections were later annulled by military head of state General Babangida, citing electoral irregularities. The annulment led to widespread protests and political unrest in Abiola's stronghold of the South West, as many felt Babangida had ulterior motives, and did not want to cede power to Abiola, a Yoruba businessman. Babangida later admitted that the elections were annulled due to national security considerations, which he didn't specify.
The lingering June 12 crisis led to the resignation of General Babangida in August 1993. Babangida signed a decree establishing the Interim National Government led by Ernest Shonekan. As interim president, Shonekan initially appointed Abiola as his Vice President, who refused to recognize the interim government, the crisis lingered for months culminating in the seizure of power of General Sani Abacha.
From his hilltop residence in Minna, Babangida has cultivated a patronage system which cuts across the entire country. In 1998, Babangida was instrumental in the transition to democracy. Babangida is one of the founders of the Peoples Democratic Party alongside other prominent military generals such as Aliyu Mohammed Gusau. They were said to have supported General Olusegun Obasanjo in the 1999 Nigerian presidential election in order to springboard themselves back to power.
In August 2006, Babangida announced that he would run in the 2007 Nigerian presidential election. He said he was doing so "under the banner of the Nigerian people" and accused the country's political elite of fuelling Nigeria's current ethnic and religious violence. On 8 November 2006, General Babangida picked up a nomination form from the Peoples Democratic Party headquarters in Abuja. This effectively put to rest any speculation about his ambitions to run for the Presidency. His form was personally issued to him by the PDP chairman, Ahmadu Ali. This action immediately drew extreme reactions of support or opposition from south west. In December, just before the presidential primaries, it was widely reported in Nigerian newspapers that Babangida had withdrawn his candidacy. In a letter excerpted in the media, IBB is quoted as citing the "moral dilemma" of running against Umaru Yar'Adua, the younger brother of the late General Shehu Yar'Adua, as well as against General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau, given IBB's close relationship with the latter two. It is widely believed that his chances of winning were slim.
In September 2010, Babangida officially declared his intention to run for the presidency in the 2011 presidential election in Abuja, Nigeria. Babangida was later urged by his military inner circle to withdraw his candidacy. President Goodluck Jonathan later emerged as the parties presidential candidate.
In 2015, following the election of his long-time rival General Muhammadu Buhari as President, Babangida has maintained a low profile. In 2017, Babangida had a corrective surgery. At 79, he is considered a foremost elder statesman, and has called for a generational shift in leadership to allow for a new crop of leaders to replace the 1966 military class.
Babangida was married to Maryam Babangida from 1969 until her death in 2009. They had four children together; Aisha, Muhammad, Aminu, and Halima. On 27 December 2009, Maryam Babangida died from complications of ovarian cancer.
Babangida is rumoured to be worth over US$5 billion. He is believed to secretly possess a multi-billion dollar fortune via successive ownership of stakes in a number of Nigerian companies. In 2011, according to a Forbes article, Babangida is estimated to be worth US$12 billion. Babangida has rejected these claims, and insists his government "were saints".
During his military career, Babangida attained the following ranks:
|1983||Nigeria||Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR);||Shehu Shagari||Third highest national honour in Nigeria|
|Nigeria||Defence Service Medal (DSM);||Nigerian Army||Military award|
|Nigeria||Forces Services Star (FSS);||Nigerian Army||Military award|
|Nigeria||General Service Medal (GSM);||Nigerian Army||Military award|
|Nigeria||National Service Medal (NSM);||Nigerian Army||Military award|
|1985||Nigeria||Grand Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (GCFR);||Himself||Highest national honour in Nigeria|
|1989||United Kingdom||Honorary Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the Bath (GCB) Military division;||Elizabeth II||Fourth-most senior of the British Orders of Chivalry|
|1989||Zimbabwe||Freedom of the City of Harare||Robert Mugabe||Prestigious national honour in Zimbabwe|
|1990||Equatorial Guinea||Grand Collar of the Order of the Independence||Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo||Highest national honour in Equatorial Guinea|
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Mohammed Inuwa Wushishi
| Chief of the Army Staff
| President of the Armed Forces Ruling Council of Nigeria
17 August 1985 – 26 August 1993