General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, GCFR was born on 17 August 1941 in Minna to his father, Muhammad Babangida and mother Aisha Babangida. He received early Islamic education, before attending primary school from 1950 to 1956.
From 1957 to 1962 Babangida attended Government College Bida, together with classmates Abdulsalami Abubakar, Mamman Vatsa, Mohammed Magoro, Sani Bello, Garba Duba, Gado Nasko and Mohammed Sani Sami.
Babangida joined the Nigerian Army on 10 December 1962, where he attended the Nigerian Military Training College (now Nigerian Defence Academy) in Kaduna. Babangida received his commission as a second lieutenant as a regular combatant officer in the Royal Nigerian Army (a month before it became the Nigerian Army) with the personal army number N/438 from the Indian Military Academy on 26 September 1963.
Babangida attended the Indian Military Academy from April to September 1963. From January 1966 to April 1966, Babangida attended the Younger Officers Course at the Royal Armoured Centre in the United Kingdom – where he received instruction in gunnery and the Saladin armored car.
Following the outbreak of the civil war, Babangida was recalled and posted to the 1st Division under the command of General Mohammed Shuwa. In 1968, he became commander of the 44 Infantry Battalion, which was involved in heavy fighting within Biafran territory. In 1969, during a reconnaissance operation from Enugu to Umuahia, the battalion came under heavy enemy fire and Babangida was shot on the right side of his chest.
He was then hospitalized in Lagos and was given the option of removing the bullet shrapnel, which he refused and still carries with him. Away and recovering from his wounds, Babangida married Maryam King on 6 September 1969. He returned to the war front in December 1969, commanding a battalion.
In 1970, following the war, Babangida was promoted twice and posted to the Nigerian Defence Academy as an instructor. In 1973, he was made commander of the 4 Reconnaissance Regiment. In 1975, he became the commander of the Nigerian Army Armoured Corps.
Babangida attended several defence and strategy courses. From August 1972 to June 1973, he attended the Advanced Armoured Officers Course at the United States Army Armor School. From January 1977 to July 1977, he attended the Senior Officers Course at the Armed Forces Command and Staff College, Jaji.
From 1979 to 1980, he attended the Senior Executive Course at the National Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies. In 1981, he became the Director of Army Staff Duties and Plans.
In 1975, Colonel Babangida as Commander of the Armoured Corps was a key participant in the 1975 military coup d’état that brought General Murtala Mohammed to power. He was later appointed as one of the youngest members of the Supreme Military Council from 1 August 1975 to October 1979.
Following the 1976 military coup d’état attempt that resulted in the assassination of General Murtala Mohammed, Colonel Babangida crushed the coup attempt almost single-handedly by taking back control of the Radio Nigeria station from the main perpetrator, Lieutenant Colonel Buka Suka Dimka (a close friend of his), to prevent him making further announcements over the airwaves. On 27 August 1985, General Babangida and others orchestrated the palace coup that sacked General Muhammadu Buhari’s military regime. Babangida administration initially differed greatly from General Muhammadu Buhari’s in terms of human rights, initially.
On 22 April 1990, Babangida’s government was almost toppled by a failed coup led by Major Gideon Orkar. Babangida was at the Dodan Barracks, the military headquarters and presidential residence, when they were attacked and occupied by the rebel troops, but managed to escape.
Babangida’s administration relocated the seat of government from Lagos to Abuja on 12 December 1991.
Following the controversies that trailed the annulment of the 12 June 1993 presidential election believed to have been won by late Moshood Abiola, Military President Babangida resigned and “stepped aside”, handing power over to Chief Ernest Shonekan head of the Interim National Government.
After stepping aside, he retired to his hilltop residence in Minna, which became a Mecca of sort for Nigerians across the country. In 1998 Babangida was instrumental in the transition to democracy. Babangida is one of the founders of the People’s Democratic Party, alongside other prominent military generals and statesmen like late Solomon Lar and Alex Ekwueme.
Babangida was married to Maryam Babangida from 1969 until her death in 2009. They had four children together; Aisha, Muhammad, Aminu, and Halima. On 27 December 2009, Maryam Babangida died from complications of ovarian cancer.
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