Ibrahim Babangida Celebrates His 81st Birthday Today
Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida GCFR (born 17 August 1941) popularly known as IBB; nicknamed, “Maradona” or “The Evil Genius”, is a retired Nigerian Army general who ruled the Federal Republic of Nigeria from 27 August 1985 until his resignation in August 1993. He served as Chairman of the Armed Forces Ruling Council from 1985 to 1993 and Chief of Army Staff from 1984 to 1985; going on to orchestrate his seizure of power in a palace coup d’ètat against Muhammadu Buhari. He rose through the ranks of the Nigerian Army fighting in the Nigerian Civil War and at various times being involved in all the military coups in Nigeria, before advancing to the full-rank of a General and ultimately as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces; and as an unelected President and military strongman from 1985 to 1993, ruling for an uninterrupted period of eight years. His years in power, colloquially known as the Babangida Era, are considered one of the most controversial in the military history of the country, and characterized by a burgeoning political culture of corruption in Nigeria, with Babangida and his regime estimated at least 12 billion dollars (23.9 billion today).
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The Babangida government oversaw the establishment of a state security apparatus; survived two coup d’ètat attempts and the subsequent execution of Mamman Vatsa (1985) and Gideon Orkar (1991) alongside the trial of hundreds of soldiers; assassination in Lagos of Dele Giwa (1986). The regime also faced a series of ethnic and religious outbreaks related to the fallout of Babangida’s decision to increase cooperation with the Muslim world and rise in extremist tendencies. On the continent his rule projected the country as a regional power with diplomatic successes including the Abuja Treaty and the military engagement of Nigerian troops in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Abroad, Babangida’s military government cemented traditional relations with the English-speaking world of the United States and United Kingdom; and implemented economic liberalization and the privatization of state-owned enterprises alongside a national mass mobilization. The fall of Babangida and his regime was precipitated by the transition towards the Third Nigerian Republic and subsequent militarization of politics in the 1993 presidential election which Babangida annulled.
Ibrahim Babangida was born on 17 August 1941 in Minna to his father, Muhammad Babangida and mother Aisha Babangida. He received early Islamic education before attending primary school from 1950 to 1956. From 1957 to 1962 Babangida attended Government College Bida, together with classmates Abdulsalami Abubakar, Mamman Vatsa, Mohammed Magoro, Sani Bello, Garba Duba, Gado Nasko and Mohammed Sani Sami. Babangida joined the Nigerian Army on 10 December 1962, where he attended the Nigerian Military Training College in Kaduna.
Babangida ruling by decree promulgated his official title as the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and placed Muhammadu Buhari under house arrest in Benin until 1988. He established the Armed Forces Ruling Council (AFRC) as the highest lawmaking council serving as Chairman; he also restructured the national security apparatus, tasking General Aliyu Gusau as Co-ordinator of National Security directly reporting to him in the president’s office he created the: State Security Service (SSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA).
Babangida was married to Maryam Babangida from 1969 until her death in 2009. They had four children together; Aisha, Muhammad, Aminu, and Halima. On 27 December 2009, Maryam Babangida died from complications of ovarian cancer.