Muhammed Buhari: The Nigerian General who Defeated the "Ogun Curse." - OOU Campus Mirror

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Sunday 8 October 2023

Muhammed Buhari: The Nigerian General who Defeated the "Ogun Curse."

 By Nuga Olasubomi. 

From Ironsi to Muritala, to Abacha, every Nigerian President/Head of State, who had an Ogun State indigene as their deputy has died in office, except for Muhammadu Buhari.

Ogun state has produced the top government officials in Nigeria for quite a while. The state has the highest number of Vice Presidents in the country: Olusegun Obasanjo, Brigadier General Babafemi Ogundipe, Lt General Oladipo Diya, and Prof. Yemi Osinbajo. Ogun state has produced two Presidents -Olusegun Obasanjo and Ernest Shonekan. And aside from Ogun state, Katsina is the only state that has the same number of Presidents- Late Umaru Musa Y’adua and Maj. Gen. Muhammadu Buhari  (rtd.)

President Bola Tinubu is the first Yoruba man who is not from Ogun state, to be Head of State and Commander-in-Chief. He's the first Yoruba man who is not from Ogun State to occupy one of the two highest offices (President and Vice President) in the West African country. 

The first Southwesterner to become a deputy in the federation was Brigadier-General Babafemi Ogundipe (1924-1971). When Major-General Johnson Thomas Umunakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi (1924-1966) became the first military Head of State in January 1966, Ogundipe was chosen to be his deputy by the Supreme Military Council.

Ogundipe who hailed from Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, joined the Royal West African Frontier Force in 1941 and served in Burma between 1942 and 1945 during World War Il. He re-enlisted after the war and rose to the rank of Brigadier in May 1964. He only had 194 days in office when his boss, Aguiyi-Ironsi was killed in the counter-coup of July 29, 1966, by northern soldiers, in Lalupon, Western Region (now in Oyo State), Nigeria. 

The second was General Olusegun Obasanjo (rtd.), born around 1938, a two-time leader of Nigeria (1976-1979; 1999-2007), who became the country's first civilian president since 1983 when he took office for the second time as an elected President in 1999. 

Obasanjo hails from Abeokuta, Ogun State. Unable to afford a university education, he joined the Nigerian military in 1958 and received training in the United Kingdom and India. In 1967, Nigeria was embroiled in a civil war as the Igbo, one of Nigeria's three main ethnic groups along with the Yoruba and the Hausa-Fulani, attempted to secede and form the Republic of Biafra. Obasanjo was lauded for leading an attack on Biafran forces that principally ended the war. 

After the war, and a successful bloodless coup, which toppled then Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd.) (b. 1934), Obasanjo served as deputy to General Murtala Ramat Muhammed (1938-1976) as Nigeria's military leader. Obasanjo was only 200 days in office as deputy Head-of-State when Murtala Muhammed was assassinated in an abortive coup on Friday, February 13, 1976. 

The third is Lieutenant-General Oladipo Diya (rtd.), born in 1944 in Odogbolu, Ogun State. He was appointed Military Governor of Ogun State from January 1984 to August 1985.

Diya was Commandant, of National War College (1991-1993) and then was appointed as Chief of Defence Staff. He was appointed Chief of General Staff in 1993 and Vice Chairman of the Provisional Ruling Council in 1994. As the Chief of General Staff, he was the de facto Vice President of Nigeria to General Sani Abacha (1943-1998) until 1997 when he was arrested for treason. Nevertheless, his office was still vacant when his boss, Abacha died of a heart attack in June 1998. Gen. Abacha, the 54-year-old General who spent 54 months in office died on Monday and he was buried on Monday. 

The fourth man from Ogun State in this position is Professor Yemi Osinbajo (b.1957), a deputy to President Muhammadu Buhari. On May 29, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, was sworn in as the 15th Head of State and the 5th elected civilian President in the history of Nigeria along with his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, GCON. It was a landmark victory for their party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), as it was the first time in the nation's electoral history that an opposition party (APC) would topple a ruling party (the People's Democratic Party [PDP) through the ballots.

However, Maj. Gen Muhammadu Buhari (rtd.) broke the curse. Although he faced an excessive illness that saw him out of the country for more than 200 days(The most of any Nigerian president), he completed his eight years in office. 

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