Buhari and His Power Ambition By Tanko Yakasai

Obasanjo told Umaru Shinkafi, that shortly after the election of 1979, some military officers went to him and informed him not to hand over to Shagari.

Obasanjo told them that he had already
told the world he was going to hand over
power, and that he inherited the office,
after a coup attempt that was not

He stated that his predecessor promised to hand over, and it means he must hand over.

Obasanjo also told them that he has initiated an election process which was successful. Shagari won, people went to court and he won there as well.

‘So on what grounds should I tell the world I would not hand over to him? Who do you even want me to hand over to? And they said, ’hand over to Buhari’!’

So even before power was handed over to Shagari, the military attempted to steal it and hand over to Buhari. So it wasn’t about bribery and corruption or not to hand over to Alex Ekwueme.

I am not the first person to. say this; the boys who published Shagari’s book said it first. But, I have also relayed it in my book. And I will give you a copy to go and read. And since his assumption of power by Shagari, there were several attempts to topple him until they eventually succeeded. It was revealed in that book that the military had attempted to stage a coup even before the second election in 1983.

They sought the advice of one of their senior officer who had retired, he told them he supported the idea of a coup, but if they did it before the election, Awolowo would say it was because he was billed to win the election, and the Yoruba owns the
newspapers and most editors at the time
were also Yoruba and so they would give
it widespread publicity such that the
world would reject the coup.

He advised them to let the election take place first, before they do whatever they want to do.

There was also a revelation in the
book that General Domkat Bali’s wife
thought her husband was having an
affair when she noticed that he always
came home late, unlike him. When her
suspicion became too much, one day he
told her that he was not having an affair,
but he was always coming back late
because they were meeting in Buhari’s
house to stage a coup. Buhari was the
GOC in Jos at the time, and he told her
not to tell anyone.

Incidentally, Domkat Bali’s wife is related to the wife of Solomon Lar, the then Governor of Plateau State. She realised that a coup would affect her relatives’ husband, and she could not take it, because she feared he could be killed. So, she told Lar’s wife, and Lar’s wife also told her husband.

It happened that Shagari was going to open the school in Kuru. Solomon told Shagari that he had something to tell him, but Shagari advised him to wait until after the event.

After the event, Solomon Lar told
Shagari what he was told at the
Presidential lodge in Jos, he mentioned
Domkat Bali’s wife as the source of the

Lar said he had wanted to bring up the issue at the meeting of the National Security Committee, but when he realised that he is not the Commander in Chief, he thought it best to wait, since Shagari is also coming to Jos.

Shagari now informed Solomon Lar to go and tell Buhari that this is what he heard, that he was planning a coup.

But Lar said I can only do that if you let me inform him that the message came from you. Shagari agreed to that.So when they met with Buhari while they were seeing off President Shagari, Solomon Lar excused Buhari aside and said he wanted to see him, and would come see him at home.

But Buhari said how can you a governor
come to my house? Lar insisted that he
would go. So he went to Buhari’s house
and informed him that it was Shagari that
sent him to let him know that there was a
rumour going round that they were
planning a coup.

Buhari said it was not true, there was nothing like that.

He asked Lar to go and assure Shagari that it was not true.After Lar left, Buhari
called Umaru Shinkafi because they were
friends and asked him to meet as soon
as possible in Kaduna.

Umaru Shinkafi informed Shagari and he was given an aircraft to take him to Kaduna. When they met, Buhari told Shinkafi that he was going to retire since the Commander in Chief does not trust him anymore.

There was a time, the military authorities wanted Buhari transferred to Abeokuta but people like Umaru Dikko kicked against it because they said bringing someone like Buhari closed to the seat of power is dangerous. That was why Shagari asked that Buhari be transferred to Jos.

He was very angry with that
decision because he felt, he was not
trusted. So the second incident made him
tell Shinkafi that he was going to retire,
since no one trusted him anymore.

Shinkafi, in his capacity as the Security
Adviser to Shagari, informed Buhari that
he knew the president trusted Buhari, so
he should not think of retiring. He went
back and informed Shagari that Buhari
said he should not worry; there was no
cause for alarm.

That was what prompted Buhari’s group; they realised that the issue had begun to leak, so they had to strike early.

But even before this incident, they had also planned to topple the government on the day Shagari was sworn-in for his second term.

In fact Umaru Shinkafi even though did not come out to tell the president that he suspects something was wrong, advised the president to wear a bullet proof vest on his way to the inauguration.

Shagari asked him why? I will not wear it. It got to a point Umaru Shinkafi was even
shedding tears before Shagari agreed to
wear it.

In the book, they quoted Babangida as saying they were aware of all this, but Shagari’s people did not know that plans had changed.

Before then, all plans had been perfected and a plane had even been dispatched to Jos to fetch Buhari with instruction to wear his full military regalia, and text of his national speech was already given to him for his inputs before 1st October, 1983.

Why they changed their minds, no one
knows.This means that they had planned
the coup even before the one Solomon
Lar got wind of and informed Shagari.

Tanko Yakasai former Adviser to President Shehu Shagari on National Assembly Matters (1979-1983) in an interview

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