1976 coup: Why I declined taking over after Murtala’s death – Obasanjo

By Daud Olatunji

ABEOKUTA—Former President Olusegun Obasanjo said, yesterday, that he was persuaded to take over as Head of State, shortly after General Murtala Ramat Muhammed was killed in the 1976 coup.

Olusegun Obasanjo
Olusegun Obasanjo

The then Head of State, Gen Muhammed, along with his aide-de-camp, ADC (Lt. Akinsehinwa), orderly and driver were assassinated on February 13, 1976 while on his way to work in a black Mercedes Benz car.

Obasanjo said he, as the then Chief of Staff of Supreme Headquarters and the late Muhammed had worked for the peace of the country before the Lt. Col. Buka Dimka struck in the bloody coup.

While reflecting on the coup, Obasanjo declared that Nigerians had thought that the bloody coup would end the nation called Nigeria.

The former President said this when he played host to the cast and crew of the yet to be released film, “1976” at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, OOPL, Abeokuta.

According to him, there were misconceptions about the coup, which upturned the political situation at that time.

He explained that the misconception stemmed from the fact that most of those involved in the coup were Christians and for killing the Head of State, who was a Muslim, it was seen as a bad signal for the nation.

He said: “The killing of a Muslim on a Friday by a gang thought to be Christians, particularly, when we remembered the first coup, which upturned the political situation gave a bad signal.

Obasanjo, however, described the film, which abridged parts were shown as “a mixture sweet and sorrow will make us to remember ourselves not to go back to the dark days, which put us in go-no-go situation.”

Commending the team for the production, he said, “we can have more of this, as there are  more national issues that can be portrayed. We are capable of the best and that is what this film has shown that.”

The Executive Producer of the film, Tonye Princewill said the cast and crew of “1976” was on tour of the country to seek support and endorsement for the film, billed to premier in November.

Princewill said the visit to Obasanjo was important, “considering his position at that time in the country, we deem it fit to come and show him the film and curry his endorsement, which as you can see we had gotten.”

1976 coup: Why I declined taking over after Murtala’s death – Obasanjo on Vanguard News.

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