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Obasanjo, IBB, Abdulsalami get knocks for not honouring Garba

Posted by From JAMES OJO and LAMBERT TYEM, Abuja on 2008/07/22 | Views: 2605 |

Obasanjo, IBB, Abdulsalami get knocks for not honouring Garba


Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and former military heads of State, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdusalami Abubakar have been roundly condemned for their neglect of the memory of their late comrade and Nigeria's former ambassador to the United Nations, General Joseph Garba.

Ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo and former military heads of State, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Abdusalami Abubakar have been roundly condemned for their neglect of the memory of their late comrade and Nigeria's former ambassador to the United Nations, General Joseph Garba.

In an interview with Daily Sun, retired Captain Kamarudeen Olatunde, former Aide-De-Camp (ADC) to Garba took a swipe at the ex-leaders for their failure to honour the late General turned diplomat.

Garba played a crucial role in the coup that ousted General Yakubu Gowon from power in 1975 and the enthronement of the late General Murtala Muhammed as head of state.
The flamboyant one-time Foreign Affairs minister also took part in the foiling of another coup in February 1976, as he eventually announced to the nation in a live broadcast the collapse of Lt Col Bukar Dimka's coup in which Murtala lost his life.

Angered by the indifference of the past leaders to Garba's contribution to the nation Olatunde labelled them "ingrates who bit the finger that fed them."
"On the poor treatment of Joe Garba, I am blaming all the Military heads of State and the entire military exclusively because they knew who Joe Garba was. The knew how articulate he was. They knew the role he played in the survival of this country. I blame Obasanjo most," he said.
According to the retired officer, due to the neglect of the memory of their breadwinner, the immediate family of the late General had remained in the United States of America. He spoke further on the roles of Garba in the survival of the nation, among others.

Excerpts:
My anger with Obasanjo, IBB, others
I am unhappy with all the governments and former colleagues of Gen. Garba, particularly President Olusegun Obasanjo. I am very unhappy and disappointed in Obasanjo. The reason is that Joe Garba was among the people who made him the military head of state in 1976 when Murtala died. Obasanjo was reluctant to be the head of state after the demise of Murtala. He even went ahead to say that he accepted to be Head of State against his personal desire. Joe Garba was among the people that made it possible for him to succeed Murtala after the head of state died in 1976.

The coup that brought Yakubu Gowon down in 1975 when he went for OAU Conference in Uganda, Obasanjo was never part of it. They only invited the senior military officers to head the government. So they benefited from the role the junior officers played. Murtala was never part of it. Danjuma was not part of it too.

It was the junior officers, Joe Garba, the late Gen Shehu Yar'Adua, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Gen. Abdullahi Mohammed and others. They were the ones who said Gowon, having led this country for nine years, had served Nigeria enough; that the life span of Nigeria is greater than that of an individual. They all believed that Gowon had really served the country and Nigeria needed to move forward. If they needed somebody who could move the country forward, Obasanjo was never part of that plan.

My grouse about Abdulsalami Abubakar was that he was in power when Joe Garba was alive and Obasanjo was there when he died but the most important thing is that Abdulsalami knew Joe Garba in and out. Ibrahim Babangida also knew Garba in and out. They would have said in memory of what this man did for this country, let's immortalize him, build an edifice in his honour. Look at what they did for Yar'Adua in Abuja today. Abacha's name is all over the place too. But Gen. Garba was not well remembered and he did a lot as far as the survival of this country is concerned. For me this is ingratitude. I am blaming all the military heads of state and the entire military exclusively because they knew who Joe Garuba was. They knew how articulate he was. They knew the role he played in the survival of this country.

But I will blame Obasanjo more than any other person, because he was in a better position to favour Garba. When Gen. Garba was the Foreign minister he was around and when Joe Garuba was the Nigerian ambassador to the United Nations, Obasanjo was not in government but he frequented the United Nations and he saw the wonderful work Garba was doing there.

Joe Garba was even canvassing for him to go back home and participate in politics, because Garba believed so much in Obasanjo then. And Obasanjo knew that. He was singing his praises and placed him high. So Garba needed no introduction to Obasanjo from anybody. He knew him in and out. Obasanjo always says give Joe Garba a job and leave him alone. He would deliver. When Garba came back home, Obasanjo appointed him as director general, Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS). I am holding President Obasanjo responsible. He should have done something before leaving office.

Other people I am also blaming are Gen. Garuba's colleagues back home in Plateau State. They are still alive, Gen. Domkat Bali, Gen. Jerry Useni, Gen. Joshua Dogonyaro, all these people are from the same place with Garba and they should have championed this. I am not from their area. I am ADC to Garba. Although President Umaru Yar’Adua cannot be blamed for the neglet of Garba, he can make the difference by honouring the deceased.

Garba's contributions
During the civil war people said Joe Garuba did not go to the war front. But most of the troops that fought that war were produced from his unit. Automatically, Lagos became a training institution where we were turning soldiers and officers to fight in the Biafran war. You cannot be fighting a battle and leave your rear vulnerable. The enemy could overrun you. So, you need somebody to take on the rear. Garba was charged with the responsibility of securing the Head of State, Gen. Gowon. So the role he played, holding on to the headquarters and producing troops to participate in that civil war.

And after the war he also contributed immensely. You can quote me; the first memo in council on the creation of Abuja was drafted in Gen. Garba's handwriting in 1975. But till today you cannot go anywhere in Abuja and find the name of Garba anywhere.

The late Garba's performance could also be well appreciated by his colleagues that served with him both as Nigerian ambassador, when he was at the United Nations. All other African ambassadors were around him. Apart from being the Nigerian ambassador to the United Nations, he was the chairman of anti-apartheid committee. They were the people who fought for the release of Nelson Mandela who just turned 90. At that time, Joe Garba was traveling round the world, canvassing for the release of Mandela and for South Africa to be independent. As soon as he got to the United Nations in 1984, he assumed the position of the chairman of apartheid committee until Mandela was released from prison in 1990. And he also became president of the United Nations Assembly.

Garba' family
The issue of his family is another dimension. The family is on their own. The children and the wife all live in America now. After he died they decided not to come back to Nigeria. I personally believe I cannot speak for them. I do not want to go into family matter, but what I know is that government and colleagues did not do what they were suppose to do to immortalize the memory of the man who served the nation so well.

His death
I would not term Garba's death careless, because he was active till death. The week he died, he held a meeting with President Obasanjo. The heads of state of Commonwealth were coming to Nigeria and they chose Jos as the place where they were going to stay for two days. I could remember that Governor Donald Duke from Cross River State tried to bid for where the retreat should take place. Governor Muazu from Bauchi also came. They all came and defended why the retreat should take place in their respective states. But Joe Garba won it for NIPSS and the Federal Government gave him an appointment. The very week that approval came was when he died, which was quite unfortunate.

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