By Charles Kumolu, Lagos
Lt-Gen Alani Akinrinade a civil war hero who was hailed as a master strategist, gives the untold account of his relationship with Second republic leader, President Shehu Shagari.
In his words, General Akinrinade said ”I told him that I saw them as a band of people who want to get together and commit suicide. I added that I was not ready to commit suicide with anybody. I thought that would have opened the vista for a big discussion between both of us but he didn’t ask any question. On the day I was leaving, President Shagari graciously gave me a luncheon that had the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, chieftains in attendance. I asked him if he would permit me to make a remark and he obliged.”
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Gen Akinrinade said ”I wrote a three-minute speech because I wanted it to be documented. I thanked everyone and told him that I enjoyed working with him. I told him that I delivered on the mandate he gave me. I succeeded in keeping the soldiers in the barracks. I said the only thing that was going to keep them in that barracks was good governance. Some people were not too happy I said such a thing but I felt that there was no need holding anything back”.
The retired Chief of Defence staff, also spoke on why his tenure as minister under the Babangida regime was short. Akinrinade said ”There was the Council of Ministers and the Armed Forces Ruling Council, AFRC. The highest decisions were made at the AFRC which was a body of soldiers. When the AFRC was making its decisions contrary to what the Council of Ministers would want to stand for, those who have respect for themselves decided to leave.
”That was when I left. I am too close to Ibrahim, IBB, his wife, and other family members to be quarreling with him. I couldn’t have been going to his house to be quarrelling with him every day. That was why I left. That was why Bola Ajibola left also.”