I have no regret retiring politicaly-exposed officers, says Obasanjo

Olusegun Obasanjo

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has explained that he fired military officers who were exposed to politics when he held sway as president in order to prevent coup in the country.

To this end, the ex-president said he had no apology for his action, saying it was rather in the nation’s interest.Also, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has blamed removal of history subject from the nation’s school curriculum on faulty leadership, saying the development impacted negatively on the students as it denied them opportunity to know their past, present and future.

And former Military Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, said the military was not trained to take over constitutional power, noting that the incursion of the military into power through the January 15,1966 coup was the greatest tragedy of the country.

The trio spoke in Abuja, at a public presentation of a book written in honour of the country’s first Nigerian Army Regular Combatant, late Brigadier Zakariya Maimalari.Obasanjo noted that the decision to retire politicaly-exposed military officers was largely informed by the need to prevent a re-occurrence of the incidence that led to the death of Brigadier Maimalari and others.

Obasanjo said: “I have no apology but I have an explanation. It is because it’s necessary to stop the sort of things that took the life of your father prematurely, so I had to take this decision. Of all those that had tasted power, they should never have tasted while they were soldiers, we eased them out of the army so that we can have an army that will be completely freed from political aberration.

“And since 1999, I think we seem to have got it right. Let us hope that we will continue to get it right and learn the right lessons that Nigeria has had enough bloodshed.”He described the late Maimalari as a courageous officer who was committed to the welfare of officers and men under his command.

The former President stressed the need to imbibe the lessons of peaceful co-existence 51 years after Maimalari was gunned down, noting that enough blood had been shed in the task of nation building.

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, while paying glowing tribute to the fallen hero, said the late Maimalari is a rare product the country had ever produced.Regretting that Maimalari was killed at just 34 years of age, the Acting President said: “Yet, considering the place in history, he had forged for himself, he seems to be living for eternity. Every few years, the subject of Maimalari and his times comes to the fore of public discourse in Nigeria and beyond.’’

Osinbajo, who was represented by the Minister of Water Resources, Alhaji Suleiman Adamu, said:”History as a subject in our schools has become fairly infamous, with students often feeling that the subject has no practical value.”

Chairman of the occasion General Yakubu Gowon, described the late Brigadier Zakariya Maimalari as a loyal, patriotic, efficient and inspirational officer who put his best in the service of the nation.

“He and Lawal Umar were among the first Nigerians to be enlisted into the Nigerian Army for officers training and regular training combatant in Stanfust. He was good, firm, disciplined, professional and of course very courageous. “We are not supposed to stage coups and take over government that is not hitherto our training,” Gowon noted.

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