Ibrahim Babangida when he was the Head of State

Ibrahim Babangida was a Nigerian retired army General and statesman who served as the Nigerian 6th Military Head of State from 1985 to 1993. Babangida became head of state when he and some group of army officers staged a military coup that ousted General Muhammadu Buhari from power. After he left power, Babangida tried to secured a candidacy under the platform of People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2007 and 2011.

Ibrahim Babangida was one of the respected and influential leaders who ruled Nigeria. Even though his military government was characterized by dictatorial leadership and many controversies such as the June 12 Presidential election annulment.

Early Life of Ibrahim Babangida

Ibarhim Babangida was born on 17 August, 1941, in Minna, Niger State.

Babangida received his primary education between 1952 to 1957. Between 1957 to 1962, he attended Provincial Secondary School, Bida, where he received his secondary education.

Military Career of Ibrahim Babangida


In 1962, Ibrahim Babangida joined the Nigerian Army in which he enrolled into the Nigerian Military Training College, Kaduna. He stayed in the institution where he received military training until 1963. In the same year, he attended Indian Military Academy and finally received Certificate of Armoured Driving and Maintenance.

Since his military training at the Indian Military Academy, Ibrahim Babangida took a specialization in armoury. Therefore, between 1966 to 1967, he attended Royal Armoured Center in England. From 1972 to 1973, Babangida underwent a training at the Army Armour School in the United States where he received certificate in Advanced Armoury.

Back in Nigeria, in 1977, Ibrahim Babangida attended Nigerian Command and Staff College, Jaji. From 1979 to 1980, he pursued a strategic course at the Nigerian Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru.

Again, he went abroad where he pursued a Senior International Defence Management Course at the Naval Postgraduate school, U.S., in 1980.


Initially, Ibrahim Babangida was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Nigerian Army in 1963. Between 1963 to 1966, he was a troop commander. In 1966, Babangida was promoted to the rank of lieutenant. In 1968, he was promoted to the rank of captain with new position of commanding officer. In 1970, he reached the rank of major and eventually lieutenant colonel. He was also appointed the company commander in the Nigerian Defence Academy until 1972.

In 1973, Babangida became colonel and served as the Commander at the 4 Recce Regiment of the Nigerian Army until 1975. While from 1975 until 1981, Babangida served as the Inspector of RECCE and later Armoured Corps.

In February 1976, Babangida played a major role in spoiling the coup that led to the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed. He was highly praised for his courage in confronting the coup plotters and spoiled their attempt.

In 1979, Babangida was promoted to the rank of brigadier. Two years later in 1981 he became the Director Staff Duties and Planning of the Nigerian Army until 1983, the year he was promoted to the rank of major general. In 1983 after the military coup that toppled the democratic government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Babangida who was one of the leaders of the coup was appointed the Chief of Army Staff of the Nigerian Army under the military administration of General Muhammadu Buhari. Babangida remained in the position until 1985.

Military Head of State

On 27 August, 1985, Ibrahim Babangida led a military coup against the then Military Head of State General Muhammadu Buhari. On his speech of taking power, Babangida reasoned that they toppled the Buhari’s government due to its incapacity to handle the economy of Nigeria.


After Babangida took power, he became committed in tackling the economic problems of the country. In the process, in 1986, he borrowed money from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and also introduced new economic programme tagged the Structural Adjustment Program (SAP). Under the programme, several sectors were to be reformed as follows :

  • foreign exchange system
  • trade policies
  • business and agricultural regulations

Unfortunately, the SAP did not worked well, rather different economic problems occurred due to its implementation. The most obvious problem caused by the implementation of SAP was the occurrence of inflation that for example reached even as higher as 55% between 1987 to 1988.


Since his taking office as the Nigerian Military Head of State, Ibrahim Babangida proved very effective and feared among the army. His words became powerful that he change anything he want at any time. However, his power led an enmity by some soldiers towards him. Thus, on 22 April, 1990, some middle ranking army officers led by Major Gideon Orkar attempted an unsuccessful coup in which Babangida narrowly escaped assassination.


The military administration of Babangida was accused of many abuses of human rights. The most notable of all the abuses was the killing of the famous Lagos based journalist Dele Giwa who assassinated by a letter bomb in 1986. Babangida was accused and considered by many people as the man behind the killing of Giwa.


Since 1986, Babangida promised the return of democracy in 1990. But, by 1990, Babangida extended the promise to 1993, even though he allowed the formation of political parties and the governorship elections.

Babangida fulfilled his promise by organizing the presidential election in on 12 June, 1993. However, he annulled the election when it was about to be concluded. The annulment brought chaos in the country, because many Nigerians considered the election as the most free and fair.

Since the annulment of the June 12 presidential election, Babangida continued to face pressure from the Nigerians and some international organizations. Thus, 27 August, 1993, he step aside and handed over power to the Interim National Government with Chief Ernest Shonekan as the Interim President.

Life after Leaving Power

After Babangida left power, he went into his personal life where he lived in his mansion in Minna, Niger State.

In 1999, when Nigeria returned into the democratic rule, Babangida joined the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). he played a role as one of its god fathers.

In 2007, Babangida aspired to be the PDP’s presidential candidate for the upcoming 2007 presidential election. He purchased a nomination form of the PDP. However, due some reasons, he relinquished his aspiration.

Ahmad Abdullahi, BA History

My name is Ahmad Abdullahi, I was born on 10th March, 1994 in Garun-Danga Town, Gabasawa L.G., Kano State. I attended FCE Demonstration Primary School from 2002 to 2007, FCE Staff Secondary School from 2007 to 2013, and Northwest University, Kano from 2013 to 2017, where I obtained bachelor degree in History.

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