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What every young Nigerian should know about GEN. IDIAGBON: The sensible general that every young Nigerian should know.
It is not necessary to think clearly to see how shameful and disgusting things have become in our country. If integrity were a man, they would have called it after this man.
The world, especially Nigeria, is what it is today because of our inability to live a life of integrity. The pillars of our guiding principles are no longer based on the foundation of value.
Instead of dignity and morality to be the vigilant directors of our course, we decided to let vanity and impunity dominate us.
Regardless of any other opinion, it was this senseless decision of ours that General Idiagbon tried to dethrone from our mind. But in vain he tried.
Born on September 14, 1943, in Ilorin, Kwara State, Babatunde Abdulbaki Idiagbon received his secondary education at the Nigerian Military School, Zaria, between 1958 and 1962.
He would join the Nigerian Army by enrolling in the Military Training School of Nigeria (NMTC) in 1962: NMTC was renamed the Nigerian Defense Academy (NDA) in February 1964.
In April of 1965, Idiagbon received the position of second lieutenant upon his arrival from the Military Academy of Pakistan, where he obtained a degree in economics.
From 1966 to 1967, he served as intelligence officer, 4th Battalion and Staff Officer, 3rd Intelligence, 1st Sector.
It was during this time that he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and also to the rank of captain two years later. At the age of twenty-five, Idiagbon had already become the commanding officer, Battalion 125. Due to his intelligence, qualification and personal capacity, his ascent continued to arrive until he became a brigadier general in 1983.
Nigeria before 1983 had already sided with anarchy. In addition, the resources of the nation were handled with imprudence. The depth of corruption among public officials had managed to drag the country into a state of economic confusion and the government in charge at the time seemed to be fine with the situation.
The government of Shehu Shagari managed to create a group of dark kleptocratic thieves whose cruel objective would not be reached until the nation is submerged in a pit of despair. In fact, according to the records, in the span of four years between 1979 and 1983, the government of Shehu Shagari had squandered Nigeria to get into debt.
In fact, Nigeria was at that time among the most indebted countries in Africa. Due to a colossal sum of around fifty billion dollars, inflation found a fertile soil to sprout. The result could only lead to one extreme, the difficulties. And, of course, where there are difficulties, insecurity is always present.
At that time, a radical Islamic insurgent called “Maitatsine” operating from the current state of Gombe was inflicting all kinds of atrocities.
The government of Shehu Shagari could not contain this vicious and dangerous Islamic fundamentalist. The nation was in a state of disorder. It was during this time of national disorganization that the military expelled the government of Shehu Shagari in a coup d’etat.
Thus, General Buhari became the Head of States and became the chief of personnel of Idiagbon in the Supreme Headquarters (de facto vice president).
By leading the control of all visible instruments of national, political, governmental and administrative powers, Idiagbon made use of the power of how power should be used.
With ruthless zeal and determination, he introduced and implemented policies such as War Against Indiscipline, which consists of five phases:
- Phase one – Queuing (released on March 20, 1984)
- Phase two – Work ethic (started on May 1, 1984)
- Phase three – Nationalism and patriotism, launched on August 21, 1984
- Phase four: anti-corruption and economic sabotage, launched on May 14, 1985
- Phase five – Environmental sanitation, launched on July 29, 1985
To list, the first phase was introduced strongly to encourage customers and citizens to always line up to board buses. And always do the same when they are competing for services with high demand. Anyone who considered himself too important to comply met with the wrath of the army. The purpose for which this phase was implemented was to return the social order to society.
In the same way, the second phase was launched to encourage hard work: public officials must be punctual and strike the clock. Frog jumps and, sometimes, soldiers kobokos, were the ones who used to be late. Curiously, the war also extended to the classroom; Cheating during the examination of a very serious crime.
The third phase was launched to promote nationalism and patriotism. And this was supported by the implementation of the import substitution industrialization policy; Based on the use of local materials. Therefore, the import narrowed. The sole objective of the policy was to ensure the growth of local industries.
In addition, he received support from the implementation of the Go Back to Land program, which was part of the government’s agricultural policy that encouraged the mass production of agricultural foods.
In an attempt to implement the fourth phase, which was to counteract corruption and economic sabotage, Idiagbon announced the introduction of a new currency for Nigeria. He said that the new currency would keep the same name, but the colors of the bills would be different.
It was reported that some former politicians, including ministers, governors and presidents of local governments, had large amounts of stolen money in their homes. The movement was to make those funds useless. Notice was given to the public, a period of time to withdraw their old naira from the bank and exchange them for the new ones.
Idiagbon had already announced that the exchange limit was 5000 naira; the exchange in excess of the limit had to explain where the money came from with the authorization of the government. He claimed that the deliberate sabotage of the Nigerian currency through large-scale illegal trafficking was the main cause of the nation’s economic problems.
The implementation was so relentless that when Fela was captured at the airport with more money abroad than stipulated by law, not even the truth for which he was known could free him from paying the prize.
Even a large consignment of imported Abiola newspaper paper, which was on the government’s contraband list, was seized.
Without conformity to prejudices or feelings, the sensible general attacked corrupt politicians in a radio program known as Militar en Acción (Millitary in action); Promising to smoke them out of their holes to face justice.
You may be interested to know that it was during this government that the late Alhaji Barkin Zuwo, a former senator and governor of Kano State, was charged with corruption with a prison term of two hundred and fifty years.
Like the Great Thomas Sankara, Idiagbon believed that Nigeria was strong enough to develop from within; that if Nigeria was focused, it could become a creditor nation. In fact, it was with this conviction that he attacked the International Monetary Fund when he said: “The International Monetary Fund (IMF) does not cure any sick state, in most cases, they worsen the ailment”.
Idiagbon’s cruelty was not born of foolishness; I was smart and wise enough to know what I was doing.
In April 1985, he was strongly criticized for executing a drug trafficker. Responding to his critics, he said, “a unique Nigerian solution is needed to reduce the get-rich-quick mania that fosters serious crime.”
In addition, when he was criticized by some foolish critics, for imprisoning corrupt politicians of the Second Republic, Idiagbon responded: “All this criminal crime and fraud continued while the salaries of local government employees and teachers were left unpaid for months.”
The sensible general never smiled.
But how could he have smiled with a country like Nigeria? A country whose thought only calls depression to the mind of the thinker.
Nigeria has always been a disorder organization. A nation where feeling and prejudice ride on horses in their coat of arms. A state where religion and tribalism make fun of patriotism.
It is not necessary to think clearly to see how shameful and disgusting things have become in our country. A country where the representatives of the people are pocketed in a year, what an average citizen will not gain in three earthly lives if we are going to go for the minimum wage.
However, one of the highlights of the Buhari / Idiagbon regime was the saga of Umaru Dikko. Umaru Dikko was special adviser to Shehu Shagari and also minister of transport. He went into exile from Nigeria and took refuge in the United Kingdom when he felt that the danger was coming for him. Accused of plundering a huge sum of one billion dollars, he was declared the most wanted in Nigeria.
With the intention of bringing him back home alive, Umaru Dikko was kidnapped, injected into a state of unconsciousness and packaged inside a special box. Luckily for him, the movement was somehow crossed by a British customs officer known as Charles David Morrow.
Although the Nigerian government denied their participation, Idiagbon was, however, angry that the British government frustrated the plan. In his affirmation it was clear that Nigeria was not going to ask to reestablish relations with Great Britain, and that if someone asked for forgiveness, it must be Great Britain.
As expected, the British government stopped the Nigerian Airways plane that was sent to bring Dikko with his crew. The sensible general would retaliate by stopping a British Airways passenger plane at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport.
It was not long before it became clear that his leadership style had won him a long chain of elite enemies. In August 1985, during a pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, news reached Idiagbon that Buhari had been overthrown and arrested in a coup led by Ibrahim Babangida.
He was warned to stay away from the country or be treated. Upon hearing this, the late King Fahd Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud called Idiagbon and made an offer. The Saudi king told Idiagbon that he would get him a magnificent mansion to stay for his lifetime retirement and forget the idea of returning to Nigeria.
Idiagbon politely declined the offer. He was too strong and brave to hide behind closed doors. A few days later, he was arrested by soldiers armed with all kinds of weapons. And for forty horrible months, he was placed under house arrest in the states of Benin and Bauchi. His reign as vice president lasted only twenty months.
Without millions of dollars in his name, Idiagbon was devoted to agriculture and separated from public activities. “Nigeria had chosen not to be better, and there was nothing I could do about it.”
Still remembered for his simple and humble lifestyle, Major General Idiagbon died on May 24, 1999; leaving Nigeria to the darkness that she preferred to light.