Ibrahim Babangida

For footballer, see Ibrahim Babangida (footballer).
Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida
8th Head of State of Nigeria
In office
27 August 1985  26 August 1993
Prime Minister Ernest Shonekan (1993)
Preceded by Muhammadu Buhari as Military Head of State
Succeeded by Ernest Shonekan as Interim President of Nigeria
Chief of Army Staff
In office
January 1984  August 1985
Preceded by Mohammed Inuwa Wushishi
Succeeded by Sani Abacha
Personal details
Born (1941-08-17) 17 August 1941
Minna, Northern Region, British Nigeria
(now Minna, Niger State, Nigeria)
Nationality Nigerian
Political party People's Democratic Party (PDP)
Spouse(s) Maryam King Okogwu (1948–2009, her death)
Children Muhammadu (son), Aminu (son), Aishatu (daughter), Halimatu (daughter)
Alma mater Provincial Secondary School, Bida
Nigerian Military Training College
Indian Military Academy
Command and Staff College, Jaji
Religion Islam
Nickname(s) Maradona[1]
Military service
Allegiance  Nigeria
Service/branch Nigerian Army
Years of service 1962–93
Rank General

Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (born 17 August 1941), also known as IBB, is a retired Nigerian Army General who was President of Nigeria under military rule. He ruled Nigeria from 27 August 1985, when he overthrew Major General Muhammadu Buhari in a coup, until his departure from office on 27 August 1993, having annulled the elections held on 12 June that year. General Babangida was a key player in most of the military coups in Nigeria (July 1966, February 1976, December 1983, August 1985, December 1985 and April 1990). There is evidence of severe human rights abuses during his regime.[2]

Marriage, family and personal life

Ibrahim Babangida was born in 1941, Minna, Niger State. His parents are Muhammad and Aisha Babangida. He is from the Gwari ethnic group.[3] On 6 September 1969, he married Maryam (née King) Babangida (First Lady of Nigeria 1985–93). They had four children together: Muhammadu, Aminu, Aishatu, and Halimatu.[3] Maryam Babangida died from complications of ovarian cancer on 27 December 2009.

Early education and military career

Babangida attended the Provincial Secondary School, Bida from 1957 to 1962 where his classmates included officers such as Abdulsalami Abubakar.[4] Babangida later joined the Nigerian Army on 10 December 1962, when he attended the Nigerian Military Training College (NMTC) in Kaduna. Babangida received his commission as a 2nd 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.[5] Babangida and General Mohammed Magoro were among the first batch of Nigerian graduates from the NMTC who attended the Indian Military Academy from April to September 1963. Others in subsequent batches from Babangida's NMTC class include Garba Duba and Ibrahim Sauda.[5] Babangida furthered his armoury training from January 1966 until April 1966 by enrolling in Course 38 of the Young Officers' Course (ARMED) in the United Kingdom where he received a four-month course in Saladin and gunnery.[6]

From August 1972 to June 1973, he took the Advanced Armoured Officers' course at Armored school. He attended the Senior officers' course, Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji, from January 1977 until July 1977 and the Senior International Defence Management Course, Naval Postgraduate school, U.S., in 1980.

He was heavily involved in quelling the Nigerian coup of 1976, when he was to ‘liberate’ a radio station from one of the coup plotters, Col Buka Suka Dimka (a close friend of his), to prevent him making further announcements over the air waves. Although he did prevent further broadcasts, Col Dimka managed to escape.

He attained the following ranks: Second Lieutenant (1963), Lieutenant (1966), Captain (1968), Major (1970), Lieutenant Colonel (1970), Colonel (1973), Brigadier (1979), Major General (1983), and General (1987). Babangida also served as a member of the Supreme Military Council from 1 August 1975 to October 1979.

Participation in the Nigerian counter-coup of July 1966

Babangida, then a Lieutenant with the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron in Kaduna, was one of the many officers of northern Nigerian origin who staged what became known as the Nigerian Counter-Coup of 1966 [7] which resulted in the death of Nigeria's first military Head of State, General Aguiyi Ironsi (who had taken power in another coup earlier that year), and his replacement with General Yakubu Gowon.

Presidency (1985-93)

1985 Coup

Babangida was the Chief of Army Staff and a member of the Supreme Military Council (SMC) under the administration of Major General Muhammadu Buhari. Babangida would later overthrow Buhari's regime on 27 August 1985 in a bloodless military coup that relied on mid-level officers that Babangida had strategically positioned over the years.[8]

Babangida came into power in a military coup, promising to bring to an end the human rights abuses perpetuated by Buhari's government,[9] and to hand over power to a civilian government by 1990.[10] Eventually, he perpetuated one of the worst human right abuses.[9]

Economic policies

Babangida issued a referendum to garner support for austerity measures suggested by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, and subsequently launched his "Structural Adjustment Program" (SAP) in 1986. The policies involved in the SAP were

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.[1]

Babangida subsequently returned to an inflationary economic policy and partially reversed the deregulatory initiatives he had set in motion during the heyday of the SAP following mounting political pressure, and economic growth slowed correspondingly, as capital flight resumed apace under the influence of negative real interest rates.[11] Babangida is often seen to have presided over one of the most corrupt governments in Nigeria; however, unlike other regimes, no ministers of his regime were ever tried or convicted by the courts.

Although he ran a military government, his government appeared consultative, to a point: issues were subjected to public debate, but the use to which the final recommendations were put was another matter. For instance, in setting up a 17-man "Political Bureau" (the so-called Politburo) in January 1986, Babangida kicked off what was intended to be a national debate on the political way forward for Nigeria. The Politburo "majority report" appeared to have been completed whilst consultations were ongoing nationwide. Curious still, the manipulation of what would be revealed as a "minority report" made it to being the majority report. Significantly, a member of the Politburo issued a separate report, now popularly referred to as the "minority report". All the members of the Politburo were promised some involvement in managing the execution of the programmes suggested, and only a maximum of four did not benefit after the report was issued. This methodology is consistent with Babangida's patron-client political style.

OIC membership

Babangida upgraded Nigeria's role in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC, now the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation), from an observer status to full-fledged membership. After public outcry and denial by Babangida, the John Shagaya panel was instituted to determine Nigeria's status in the OIC. The panel failed to take an explicit position on the issue, and instead, called for peace and stability within the nation, and the preservation of secularism within Nigeria.[12] Commodore Ebitu Okoh Ukiwe, the first Chief of General Staff-in command, was 'dropped' by Babangida. Ukiwe had been opposed to the registration of Nigeria, a secular country, in the OIC.[13]

Nigeria has never been withdrawn from the OIC and remains a member. Sani Abacha, who overthrew the Interim National Government set up when Babangida was forced out of office again unilaterally registered Nigeria as a member of the Developing-8 (D8), an organisation for development cooperation among Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. The D-8, an idea proposed by then-Prime Minister of Turkey Necmettin Erbakan in October 1996, is a "cooperation among major Muslim developing countries".

1990 coup attempt

On 22 April 1990, Babangida's government was almost toppled by a coup attempt 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. During the brief interlude during which Orkar and his collaborators controlled radio transmitters in Lagos, they broadcast a vehement critique of Babangida's government, accusing it of widespread corruption and autocratic tendencies, and they also expelled the five northernmost and predominantly Hausa-Fulani Nigerian states from the union, accusing them of seeking to perpetuate their rule at the expense of the predominantly Christian peoples of Nigeria's middle-belt citing, in particular, the political neutralization of the Langtang Mafia.[14]

Botched transition to civilian rule

In 1989, Babangida legalized the formation of political parties, and after a census was carried out in November 1991, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) 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 from the local level to any height of governance.

Babangida had banned all political parties and formed two political parties himself, namely the SDP (Social Democratic Party) and NRC (National Republican Convention) and 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 recommendation of the 17-member Political Bureau.

The legislative elections 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 INEC annulled the first round of presidential primaries, alleging widespread irregularities. On 4 January 1993, Babangida announced a National Defense and Security Council (NDSC), of which he was president, while in April 1993, the SDP nominated Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (MKO) as its presidential candidate, with the National Republican Convention (NRC) choosing Bashir Tofa to run for the same position. On 12 June 1993, a presidential election was finally held, but no results were ever announced, because Babangida annulled the elections. It was however announced in some states that Abiola had in fact won 19 of the 30 states, and therefore the presidency.[10]

Rather than allow announcement of the results to proceed, Babangida had decided to annul the election. Babangida then issued a decree banning the presidential candidates of both the NRC and the SDP from running in new presidential elections that he planned to hold, in the interest of the country, he said. Widespread acts of civil disobedience began to occur, particularly in the southwest region from which Abiola hailed, resulting in killings, mostly of people from the southeast part of the country. On 6 July 1993, the NDSC issued an ultimatum to the SDP and NRC to either join an interim government or face yet another round of elections, with Babangida then announcing that the interim government would be inaugurated on 27 August 1993.

On 26 August, amidst a new round of strikes and protests that brought all economic activity in the country to a halt, Babangida announced that he was stepping aside as head of the military regime, and handing over the reins of government to Ernest Shonekan. Within three months of the handover, General Sani Abacha seized control of the government, while Babangida was on a visit to Egypt.[15]

Human rights

The killing by a letter bomb of Dele Giwa, a magazine editor critical of Babangida's administration, at his Lagos home in 1986 was allegedly attributed to Babangida[16] and remains a controversial incident to this day. In 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo established the Human Rights Violation Investigation Commission headed by Justice Chukwudifu Oputa to investigate human rights abuses during Nigeria's decades of military rule. 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 rulers of the country.[17]

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."[18]

Presidential aspirations

2007 campaign

In an interview with the Financial Times on August 15, 2006, Babangida announced that he would run for president in Nigeria's 2007 national elections.[19][20] 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.[21]

On 8 November 2006, General Babangida picked up a nomination form from the Peoples Democratic Party Headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria. 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 the western population of the country. In early December, just before the PDP presidential primary, however, it was widely reported in Nigerian newspapers that IBB had withdrawn his candidacy to be the PDP's nominee to run for president. 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 Shehu Yar'Adua (himself a former nominee to run for the Presidency during IBB's military regime), 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.[22][23]

2011 campaign

On 12 April 2010, his spokesman announced that he would be seeking the nomination of the ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) for the presidency in the elections scheduled to be held in 2011.[24] In a move unseen before in Nigerian politics he launched his official campaign website on 9 August 2010, where visitors can interact directly with him.

Following a bombing in Abuja during Nigeria's 50th anniversary celebrations and the consequent arrest and interrogation of the Director General of Babangida campaign, Raymond Dokpesi, there were calls for him to quit the race. In addition, there were others who linked his affiliated to the blasts. He responded in saying it would be "idiotic to link" him with attack. Even before the blasts, however, some of his former loyalists, popularly called "IBB Boys," apparently asked him to quit the presidential race so as not to avoid being rubbished by a non-General.[25]



  1. 1 2 3 Lewis, Peter (March 1996). "From Prebendalism to Predation: The Political Economy of Decline in Nigeria". The Journal of Modern African Studies. 34 (1): 79–103. doi:10.1017/s0022278x0005521x.
  2. "General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida (IBB)". Africa Confidential.
  3. 1 2 "Ibrahim Babangida 1941– Nigerian president and military officer". Encyclopedia.com.
  4. Agbese, Dan (2012). Ibrahim Babangida: The Military, Power and Politics. Adonis & Abbey Publishers. pp. 19–40. ISBN 9781906704964.
  5. 1 2 Agbese (2012). Ibrahim Babangida. pp. 48–49.
  6. Agbese (2012). Ibrahim Babangida. p. 83.
  7. Siollun, Max. Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military Coup Culture (1966 - 1976). Algora. p. 97. ISBN 9780875867090.
  8. Siollun, Max. "Buhari And Idiagbon: A Missed Opportunity For Nigeria". Gamji.com. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  9. 1 2 Shettima, Kole; Chukwuma, Innocent (2002). "CRIME AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN NIGERIA" (PDF). International Council on Human Rights Policy. pp. 11–12. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  10. 1 2 Campbell, Ian (1994). "Nigeria's Failed Transition: The 1993 Presidential Election". Journal of Contemporary African Studies. 12 (2): 179–199. doi:10.1080/02589009408729556.
  11. Oyeniyi, Bukola Adeyemi; Falola, Toyin (February 2015). Nigeria. ABC-CLIO. p. 58.
  12. Falola, Toyin (April 22, 1998). Violence in Nigeria: The Crisis of Religious Politics and Secular Ideologies. BOYE6. pp. 93–102. ISBN 1580460526.
  13. Iloegbunam, Chuks, "Nigeria: Perspectives: Jubril Aminu And Ebitu Ukiwe: the Main Point", Vanguard, 14 December 2004.
  14. Nowa Omoigui, MD. "The Orkar Coup of April 22, 1990". Segun Toyin Dawodu. Retrieved 21 November 2009.
  15. Owah, Emmanuel Onyemaghani (2011). "VIII". Government of the Crooks, by the Crooks, for the Crooks. Xlibris. ISBN 1465352023.
  16. Human Rights Investigation Violation Investigation Commission of Nigeria (HRVIC) (May 2002). "HRVIC Report Volume Four - Case-by-Case Records of Public Hearings" (PDF). NigerianMuse. pp. 103–106. Retrieved 1 April 2015.
  17. "Generals evade Nigeria rights panel". BBC News. 1 November 2001.
  18. "Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations" (PDF). Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission (Nigeria). May 2002.
  19. Mahtani, Dino (15 August 2006). "Former military ruler of Nigeria seeks presidency". Financial Times.
  20. "Nigeria's 'evil genius' enters election race", IOL.
  21. "Babangida to contest Nigeria poll". BBC News. 15 August 2006.
  22. Ologbondiyan, Kola, Sufuyan Ojeifo and Oke Epia, "IBB: I Withdraw for Gusau, Yar`Adua"], This Day, 12 December 2006, p. 1.
  23. "Blow to Babangida's Nigeria bid", BBC News (11 December 2006).
  24. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/8615529.stm). Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. Abuja Bomb Blasts: Odds Against IBB
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ibrahim Babangida.
Military offices
Preceded by
Mohammed Inuwa Wushishi
Chief of the Army Staff
Succeeded by
Sani Abacha
Preceded by
Muhammadu Buhari
President of the Armed Forces Ruling Council of Nigeria
17 August 1985 – 26 August 1993
Succeeded by
Ernest Shonekan
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