Former Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (retd) on Thursday said that military coups after his were not for the defence and unity of Nigeria, but for other selfish reasons.
Speaking in Abuja during the launch of a book, ‘Vindication of a General’ written by former Chief of Army staff, Lt General Ishaya Rizi Bamaiyi (retd), Gowon said Military participation in politics did more harm to the institution than good.
According to Gowon, after waging a civil war for the country’s unity, subsequent coups did havoc on the military profession. He said someone like General Bamaiyi, due to his candour and professionalism, represents the best the military profession has ever produced.
“I commend the candour and integrity of General Bamaiyi and his resilience of standing up and expressing his views to his superiors even when he knew they were not the same with those of his superiors,” the former military leader recalled.
The war-time leader called on the Nigerians to find time to document their odyssey in the public life, so as to give younger generation an opportunity to study what transpired in the past.
The book presenter, Professor Sam Egwu, described the book, ‘Vindication of a General’ as a moving narration that is hinged on humility and forgiveness. He said the 252-page book is laced with accounts of betrayals and personal deprivations of someone who rose from a corporal to become the Chief of Army Staff. The book, according to Egwu, is divided into four sections, with 16 chapters.
Beyond being a moving narration by an army general on the various betrayals and the power games that trailed military politics in Nigeria, the book reviewer said ‘Vindication of a General’ is a book that unveils certain issues of the past.
Speaking at the occasion, General Bamaiyi called on the military authorities to focus on improving the welfare of soldiers, adding, “If you place the welfare of your soldiers first, they can give their lives for your defence. But if you ask soldiers to cough out N10 million to purchase a house, then what it means is that you are encouraging them to go to the road and steal. I have tried to see the present Chief of Army Staff, Gen Tukur Buratai, on this issue. I am happy I can see so many officers here. At least, I have sent my message across anyhow.”
He recalled an instance in the past where soldiers were fleeing from insurgents in the North-east during the government of President Goodluck Jonathan.
“In my village, a soldier told me that he had fled the North-east due to non-provision of bullets and ammunition. Disturbed by the news, I sought an audience with President Goodluck Jonathan. When I finally saw him and spoke to him on the situation in the North-east and how soldiers were fleeing the troubled zone, he said that he had heard of such and doubted if the money he was releasing to the military was being used for that purpose.
“And we have heard what has happened with some of the service chiefs. It is not true that we are all the same. We must serve with integrity and do what is expected of us. We should be seen to be standing for the truth,” Bamaiyi declared.
Distinguished Nigerians from all walks of life attended the event, among them are Minister of Defence, General Dan Manir Ali (retd), former Secretary to the government of the Federation, Alhaji Ahmed Yayale, Ambassador Shehui Malami, Senators Saminu Turaki, Adamu Aleiro, Shehu Sani, former Chief Security Officer to General Sani Abacha, Major Hamza Al-Mustapha, Kola Abiola, son to late MKO Abiola and retired military generals.