Gen. Bamaiyi is "a bloody liar" -Col. Gabriel Ajayi

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Ex-Army chief’s deputy describes his boss’ book as a fictional thriller

 

Recently, former Chief of Army Staff, Gen Ishaya Bamaiyi (Retd) stirred the hornet’s nest when he unveiled his book: “Vindication of a General” to the public. His account of the government of late Head of State, Gen Sani Abacha in the book has continued to generate controversy. In this interview with WILLY EYA, one of the victims of that inglorious era, Col. Gabriel Ajayi (Retd) whose brilliant and promising military career was cut short in 1995 on allegations of his involvement in a phantom coup against the regime bares it all. His conclusion is that Bamaiyi is nothing but a liar. The interview is a must read.

 

As a background to this interaction, what are your reflections on the state of affairs in the country?

That is a very tall question to ask at the beginning of this interview. I think Nigeria is surviving and everybody is trying to cope with the situation we deliberately foisted upon ourselves. What we have today is not the originally assigned destiny of this country. The destiny of Nigeria is to be the leader of the black race. 

After the American civilization would have dwindled, Nigeria is supposed to pick it up and become the leader of the world. It is not by coincidence that God concentrated the largest number of blacks in the universe in the place called Nigeria. 

It is a deliberate divine plan and all the blacks that are supposed to look forward to Nigeria are looking forward to America today. That is supposed to be the destiny of Nigeria. But unfortunately, as a result of lack of foresight, we fell victim of foreign manipulations. 

There is the colonialists’ plot to tie us down so that everything we use in Nigeria has to be imported from overseas. Even the type of government we run was copied from the American system. It is not original. I wish Nigeria could live her original life designed for it by God. Whatever a human being needs to survive, God has put it here. 

What we require here in Nigeria, God has put it in our soil. What God has put under the soil of Nigeria since 1960, He has not taken anything away from it. The same content of a tin of milk in the past is the same content of a tin of milk today. 

The only variable that has changed is the monetary variable and since we have decided to fall victim to foreign manipulation of our currency, we are in trouble, in hell. Nigeria is living a fabricated destiny but each component part of the country has her own destiny. So, if the destiny of the whole is not working, the destinies of the component parts can work. 

The Yoruba have their destiny. The Igbo have, the Hausa, the Tiv and so on. People do not understand the God factor in the destiny of Nigeria. What we are dealing with is the human factor, thinking and manipulation. 

This is according to law; our own law does not justify the end of morality. If there is law that does not justify the end of morality, there is not justice there. 

You may be saying how can a military man be saying this but there is no difference. We are all human beings. Some of us who served in the military know the value of God more than others because we face danger and only God could save one from such danger. 

You would be under the artillery shell from morning till evening and you would think that many people would have been wiped out but at the end, only few would sustain injuries. 

So, people who have experienced that kind of situation know the value of God. So in summary, I would say that Nigeria is not fulfilling her destiny. Nigeria is a huge supermarket. No industry, no production and manufacturing. 

Nigeria is blessed with petrochemicals but we are not having petrochemical-based industries. What are our leaders doing? Our leaders must come to terms with our past, reshape the present and plan for the future. If you do not plan to succeed, you plan to fail.

In your preamble, you made insinuations that that the different component parts of Nigeria have their various destinies. Do you think that one day the component parts would break away to pursue their destinies?

It depends on the people. If the people want to be together, there is nobody that can separate them and if the people do not want to stay together, there is no force of arms under the universe that can bond them together. 

What I am saying is that there is nothing that happens that do not have the hand of God in it but we can make the whole nation to work if we want to. It is not about Nigeria disintegrating; no, people should not think that anything is sacrosanct and that at all cost, it must be like this. 

That is man proposes, God disposes. But if we want the destiny of Nigeria to work, we have to make it to work and if you do not make the destiny to work, that does not stop the destinies of other people. Nigeria must be made attractive to every part of the country. 

People should be struggling to be part of it and not being forced to be part of it. When you see what you can gain from something, nobody would tell you to be part of that project. 

You cannot force people to be part of a failed business. People must see something to hold unto. You cannot compel unity. If Nigeria is attractive, nobody would be talking about MASSOB, IPOB and nobody would be talking about self- determination groups and so on.

You were second in Command to Gen Bamaiyi who recently came out with a controversial book detailing what transpired under the government of late Gen Sani Abacha. As somebody who was privy to the events of that period, what do you make of the book entitled, “Vindication of a General.”?

I want to let people know that it is not in my character to challenge the sanctity of my superiors. In the military, seniority is very sacred. 

You respect senior ranks very well in the military but when a General descend into the sewage tank, he cannot expect to smell of cologne. 

I expected General Bamaiyi to come up with apologies for their inglorious era, the evil era foisted on Nigeria by officers whose characters do not inspire anybody and whose character you would not want to emulate. 

Two, I was a de-facto Second in Command to Bamaiyi. I have not read the book but I read the excerpts put in the papers. So, from what I have read, the book should be entitled the ‘Passport of Mallam Bamaiyi’. 

The book is a fictional thriller, a novel. Even then, some thrillers are based on truths though embellished but in his own case, all I have read are all tissue of lies, falsehood and things that never happened, half-truths and equivocation. It is so funny that 22 years after, Gen Bamaiyi, could come up with this level of lies; my boss who I respect so much because Jesus Christ said obey your master as you obey me. 

That was the principle upon which I worked with him. I was tortured beyond human comprehension and dealt with badly and instead of coming up with apology, he is still lying against me that I, Gen Obasanjo and co wanted to overthrow Gen Sani Abacha. 

I think the book is a bad omen for military leadership. I cannot understand what was running in his mind to come up with that kind of book. I understand Gen Olanrewaju has refuted his claim. He was insinuating that it was Gen Olanrewaju who busted the 1995 phantom coup. 

I have known Gen Olanrewaju one on one and he told me he knew nothing about it and Bamaiyi is still lying even against his own colleague. He betrayed his own colleague. Loyalty has been the hallmark of the military. 

My commander betrayed his colleagues and all of us his subordinates. I worked with many senior officers who loved me but only Bamaiyi could have done what he did to me. I was the darling of many senior officers. 

I was a workaholic and they preferred an officer who liked to work. Bamaiyi has no loyalty. In fact, he once told me that no matter how a farmer loves his cockerel, it would still end up on his dinner table. I did not know he was referring to me indirectly. 

So, do not listen to Bamaiyi. If not because of pressure, I would not even have attempted to buy the book to read because I know what Bamaiyi could write and I know the lies he could tell. I am close to them. 

The Bamaiyi senior taught me in the Nigerian Military College. I was his training company commander. I have known his senior brother since 1973 and I extended the same camaraderie to Gen Bamaiyi. 

I worked for him like no man’s business but I disagreed with some of his satanic way of life. I did not like it because my life had been guided with the Holy Bible since I was Second Lieutenant. In fact, when I was first commissioned in 1973, for the first three months, what I did was to pick the bible, study it from Genesis to Revelation with a notebook and jotting down what the Bible says about military work. 

I put the key things into my mind. In the Old Testament, the Bible said we should never shed the blood of war in peace. In the book of Samuel, Samuel told Saul that rebellion and coup making is like the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness as idolatry. 

And Jesus Christ said, we should serve our master like we serve Him. John the Baptist when some soldiers were scared by his teaching, they asked him, what can we do to enter the kingdom of God, he told them, soldiers do violence to no man, neither accuse any man falsely and above all, be content with your wages. St Paul writing to Timothy said my son; there is no soldier on duty that entangles himself with civilian affairs but obeying his commanding officers. 

Throughout, I obeyed my commanding officer. My training officer in Nigerian Defence Academy, a Indian Major told me that the day you cannot look at your commander and tell him the truth, drop the uniform, that job is no longer for you. That was 1972 and I kept the thing in my left hand. I am a stickler to history; I am a very good student of history. 

By the time I was arrested, I was one of those with the single largest library. My library dates back to 1971. I had rare books which were looted but which you cannot find again. People who were going to Nigerian Institute of Strategic Studies (NIPSS) would come to me. Senior officers would come to me for books. 

I would advise them to write on topics that people had not been written on before so that it would be original to them. I worked with Bamaiyi but he was an unprofitable master to serve but I was a profitable servant. 

He is very slippery and dubious. He told us in a conference that there is no God and that the pastors and imams, their job is to pray for the dead only. The second edition of my book ‘End of the road’, I put all these things for people to see this man. 

It is just that I have not gotten the money for the publisher, that is why his own hit the ground before mine. My own is an anthology of the Nigerian military and by extension the Nigerian state. 

The Nigerian military is a clone of Nigeria and Nigeria is a clone of the military. I would tell you why the Army has been able to survive. The Nigerian military remains the oldest institution founded in Nigeria by the colonial masters. It was the only institution that was inaugurated with a prayer. 

The God factor is what has made the Nigerian military so thick despite the fact that Bamaiyi and co has turned it into a forest of 1000 demons. The man was a Chief of Staff in an Army of a 1000 demons. 

What do you expect him to say? His talks are demonic. See how he messed up Gen Diya, his boss, very unmilitary. Bamaiyi represents all that is bad in the Nigerian Army.

In the book, one of the claims of Bamaiyi is that the controversial loot of late Head of State, Abacha is a media creation. He gave Abacha a clean bill of health. As one of the actors of that period, do you agree that Abacha indeed is free from all the fraudulent charges and allegations against him?

It is true that many of them left with our money especially money for operations outside the country. Such monies were never accounted for and Nigerians never asked the money we spent in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Yugoslavia and all over the place. 

How much did we spend and how much did we receive from the United Nations. Let me tell you something; Abacha was like the Emir of Nigeria. He was Nigeria’s pocket and Nigeria’s pocket was Abacha’s pocket. 

It was like a family affair and they were spending the money the way they like and who could have asked questions anyway. What happened then is common knowledge and everybody knows that my Oga, Bamaiyi is just lying. 

I think God wants to catch him and that is why he came up with this book. What he is saying is contrary to the belief of everybody both locally and internationally. 

If somebody like him should be defending that period, it means that he is full of lies. What it means is that his book is full of lies. If he can say that Abacha did not take money and that he was keeping Nigeria’s money in his family account, who would believe that? But like I said, Abacha was the Emir of Nigeria. 

All Nigeria’s money belonged to his pocket anyway. Then, Abacha could do whatever he liked and nobody could question him. He would order the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to go and bring the money and they could not say no. Abacha operated like Idi Amin of Uganda. Under Abacha, there was no control system. 

He was the impregnable Commander in Chief and he liked that title so much. Bamaiyi is lying because everybody knows that Abacha tinkered with our money. Both nationally and internationally, there are proofs of that. It is funny for somebody to come around to say that Abacha was keeping the money in his family account so that it would be easier for us to spend. 

Those are trash and nobody needs to consider that at all; you already know that they are lies. But the point I, Col Ajayi wants to bring out is that Nigerians never asked how much we spent in Liberia and so on and how much UN paid us. How many soldiers died in Liberia, Sierra Leone and so on? 

Nobody is accountable to anybody. It is not about whether Abacha stole money because that one is common knowledge. Government is a continuum and we should have a record but I know that late Abacha was an enemy of Nigeria. 

He was called the Khalifa, (meaning the successor). Who can question the Emir in his emirate? Nobody. It was a mad era and had better be forgotten. 

We should not pray to ever have that kind of era again. It has come and gone but we should have reminiscences of it so that people could learn. We should remember that once upon a time, there was a Nigerian that was like this.

But what do you think Bamaiyi actually wants to achieve by coming out with this controversial book at this point in time?

I wish I could read his mind. I cannot guess or hazard anything for him other than that maybe God wants to expose him and may be there are other punishments that he requires to serve which he has not served which this controversy would now bring up. 

I cannot tell why he has to blackmail all his colleagues. But I am one of those who have been shouting that top officers should come out and write their experience. 

Silence may not be golden. There is so much tyranny and conspiracy of silence. Many of our officers suffer so much. Many of them who are men of honour and distinguished officers have been disgraced out of office. 

Why have they not come up to write? Why should they allow people like Bamaiyi to be writing? When I wanted to write my memoir, I saw many officers who told me to forget and leave everything in the hands of God but I needed people to understand that an injured soul does not vanish easily. 

If we do not put out our experience, how would others learn? My own book, I wrote it on the basis of never again would that kind of thing happen.

What is your take on Bamaiyi’s claim also that those at the forefront of the agitation for June 12, 1993 mandate were just paying lip service to the struggle?

It is because of the political exigencies of this time that I may say may be, but I knew some of those who were chieftains of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO). 

They had already established their credibility in life long time ago. So, it would be very wrong to now say that Pa Adesanya, Adebanjo, Adefarati, Ajasin and so on were self-serving. They had stood for something as far back as the pre-independence time.

Throughout the period of crises in the Western region, they stood for something. 

Everybody knew and still knows what these great men stood for. And they never deviated from what they stood for. 

It would be very wrong for anybody to malign or blackmail these great men. The principles upon which they stood long time ago are the same upon which they are standing today. 

They remain the same. As a Yoruba man, I know what the old people stand for. It is very difficult for the old generation of Yoruba to backbite and turn round to break loyalty to a cause.

Sun

 

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