On Tuesday, December 26, 1990, a presidential jet landed at the Jos Airport.
It was on a special assignment to bring some important military officers to Lagos for quick discussions with “President” Ibrahim Badammasi Babangida — the self-styled military president.
Among those who boarded the plane back to Lagos were Lt-General Domkat Bali, spending his yearly leave in Jos, Major-General Garba Duba, the G. Officer for the Third Armoured Division in Jos. Major-General Joshua Dogonyaro, the Commanding Officer for the Second Mechanised Division, Ibadan was also on board.
None of the military chiefs knew what Babangida wanted to say, but a big surprise was awaiting them.
On arrival at Dodan Barracks, IBB informed them of his decision to make immediate administrative changes: Dogonyaro would leave the Ibadan Command and await a reposting.
Duba remain in Jos, commanding the division there. Lt-General Domkat Bali would be stripped of his defence ministry portfolio; he would cease to be a member of the Armed Forces Ruling Council and would give up the chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of staff.
The summoned officers were aghast! It was the would make a full disclosure to his immediate lieutenants on “changes in the Presidency.”
AN ANGRY GENERAL BALI SAID LOUD AND CLEAR THAT while he would love to serve, he would not take up the Internal Affairs portfolio.
He felt surely humiliated by the decision of IBB and at once gave notice of retirement from the army.
Three days later, at Kam Salem House (the Police Headquarters in Lagos,) Alhaji Mohammadu Gambo called a meeting of deputy inspectors general “DIGs” and assistant inspectors general.
He told them to expect changes within the force. He informed the officers that Babangida would soon announce Aliyu Atta as his successor.
Of the DIGs, only Christopher Omene was absent at the meeting. He was said to have been peeved by Atta’s choice.
Atta from Kwara state was least considered as hot favourite. The race was seen as that between Fidelis Oyakhilome, the Governor of Rivers State and Victor Pam from Plateau state.
Pam was considered a sure bet because he is a native of an area with a lot of military muscle whose officers have considerable leverage on IBB, the “President.” Aliyu Attach’s appointment, days later, came as a surprise.
Meanwhile, all the Deputy Inspectors General were retired at once.
YOU SEE PALS, WITHOUT ARMOURED TANKS OR ARTILLERY GUNS, IBB has tremendously altered the military political power equation of his government.
He has edged out almost completely a military power group the LANGTAG MAFIA and has tossed up a self-created power base, viscerally loyal to him.
IBB has simply appointed officers that are loyal to him, who will be ready to survive or sink with him.
Major-General Aliyu Mohammed who now commands the Ibadan division is an undisputed Ally of Babangida.
Joshua Dogonyaro was the person who announced Babangida’s coup against Buhari in August 1985 and was reputed, until 29 December to be very close to General Babangida.
Colonel John Shagaya, the immediate past Internal Affairs Minister also belongs to the Langtang group.
Both he and Joshua Dogonyaro were very close to Babangida, being the Trojan horses of General Domkat Bali.
In Jos, the redeployment of Bali enraged the people. Bali was seen as Plateau’s most credible connection with the Federal Government, a father of sorts.
People now saw his appointment as Internal Affairs Minister a disgrace. The political misfortunes of Bali, Dogonyaro and Shagaya are being interpreted be as part of the continuous plan to moderate the ‘LEADERSHIP’ of the Middle Belt.
The Middle Belt, with Plateau state as the core has always exercised an important influence in the army beginning with the rise to power in July 1966 of General “Jack” Yakubu Gowon.
His overthrow in 1974 in a coup was announced by then Colonel Joseph Garba who never saw battle at the front being the Commander of the Brigades of Guards, and very close to General Gowon.
His people never forgave him for that treachery. Soon enough, IBB removed him from the United Nations where he was the Nigerian Ambassador.
Lt-General Sani Abacha was promoted as the brand new Chairman of Joint of Staff, and he gleefully swore to an oath.
SO YOU NOW HAVE THE FOLLOWING — MURTALA NYAKO, CHIEF OF NAVY, YUSSUF, AIR FORCE, ATTAH, POLICE: All heads of those Units.
Lt-General Domkat Bali it was who ANNOUNCED the killing of Major-General Vasta early January 1986. Babangida had framed up his “best friend” Vasta in a coup by late 1985.
While professors Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and the other great man from the South-South pleaded with the cunning Babangida, he nevertheless murdered his ‘bosom’ friend, Vasta.
IT WAS REALLY THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLES.
Apologies to James Hardly Chase
Kalu Idika 6727 posts 0 comments