Former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has given a rare insight into the reasons former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, was overthrown in a bloodless coup on July 29, 1975, ushering in the government that came to be known as the Murtala/Obasanjo regime.
General Gowon was overthrown and replaced by Brigadier Murtala Muhammad as head of the new government, and Brigadier Olusegun Obasanjo as his deputy while he was attending an OAU summit in Kampala, Uganda.
Obasanjo later became Head of State following the assassination of Murtala Mohammed in the February 13, 1976 bloody coup led by Lt.Col. Buka Suka Dimka.
Obasanjo gave a chronological account of his life at the Diocese of Lagos West, Archbishop Vining Memorial Church Cathedral in Lagos, saying despite the evil thought of the later head of state General Sani Abacha against him, he did not, for a day, wish anything bad for the general.
“After the war, General Gowon said that military will go by 1976 but later said that it will not be realistic again and that was the major reason why he was unseated. “That later brought about what was termed as Muritala/Obasanjo regime. But we were careless as regard security in which Muritala was killed like chicken and I would have been killed but God’s grace preserved me and I was later persuaded to take over. “We stabilized the country, conducted election and handed over. But when there was incessant coup in different parts of the country, I spoke against Military in general and Abacha’s in particular. “The consequence was that I was arrested, tried and sentenced to 30 years imprisonment which Abacha later reduced to 15 years but God in his mercy, I only spent 3 years, three months and three days. He pointed out that the person who sent him to prison was not alive by the time he came out. “But when I was in prison in Jos, Abacha’s son died and I wrote a condolence letter to him and also when he died, I also wrote a letter of condolence to his wife of which the prison authority found unbelievable but delivered all my letters. Obasanjo who spoke on the topic, “God in my Life” under the auspices of Torchbearers Society, said his educational career was God’s destiny. He disclosed that the respect he had for his biological father made him slap his teacher on his first day in school, after his teacher had asked him the name of his father. “I do follow my father to farm but one day, he asked me what I wished to do and I told him I would prefer to be a mechanic. But he suggested education and I bought into it. “We both went to Abeokuta and visited five different schools of which they rejected me because the school season was already in the middle.
“Later, I was taken to another school in the beginning of a new season. But, on my first day in school, they asked of my name and I gave them but when they asked of my father’s name, I found it irritating.
“By my own training in the village, to mention your father’s name is an insult and for him to ask for my father’s name is an insult. So, I slapped him and I was punished for that. He said that would have been the end of his educational career but God’s plan made him rise to his present level.