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ARCHIVES: Read The Letter To Margaret Thatcher From Buhari

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Civilian government had returned to Nigeria in 1979 with the election of Shehu Shagari.

However, the dissatisfaction with miserable economic conditions and what the military perceived as corrupt politicians led to another military coup in which Buhari was chosen unanimously to be the new head of state.

Muhammadu Buhari was declared Head of State in Nigeria, following a military coup on December 31, 1983.

Below is the letter that Buhari wrote to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher explaining the reasons of the coup.

“Recent events in Nigeria leading to a peaceful change of Government must have evoked different reaction in various places and I thought I should direct this personal communication to Your Excellency in order to acquaint you with the background to the intervention by the Nigerian Armed Forces. Here at home, the situation is well understood and the change of government has been received with the widest acclaim. Even in those circles which, for obvious reasons, stand to lose most through the corrective measures being contemplated to restore the sense of decency and accountability in public life, the smooth take-over and the accompanying calm and general acquiescence has been more than salutary.

“When the last military administration voluntarily handed over power to civilians in 1979, it was with very high hopes for the future. The handing over exercise was carefully planned and faithfully executed. The 1979 Constitution was promulgated. There was Justifiable optimism that Nigeria was headed for an era of progress, unity and stability, under a free and elected democratic government.

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“However, so soon after the handing over, in both the Administrative and Legislative organs of Government, a myriad of public functionaries embarked on a systematic circumvention of most of the checks and balances entrenched in the Constitution. Pervasive corruption combined with moral and financial indiscipline to ensure that millions of naira were stolen from the national coffers and stacked away in banks inside and outside the country by many unpatriotic citizens actively aided and abetted by certain unscrupulous foreign associates.

“What was left was quickly dissipated on loaded contracts and over-invoicing of imports designed to allow generous kick-backs to government and political party functionaries. Approved and correct procedures were systematically undermined and the normal functioning of government machinery deliberately perverted for personal gains. Individuals were becoming increasingly apprehensive of their personal security and the future seemed to hold little hope for improvement in the status quo. The majority of public functionaries, at all levels, freely engaged themselves in irregularities with impunity since those at tne top and supervisory grades were themselves known to be involved in corrupt practices and impropriety. Bribes and gratifications were contemptuously demanded and given. Visitors to our country were regularly confronted by the nauseating and ugly sight of uniformed customs officials and policemen taking gratifications without qualms and so brazenly doing so.

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“Incompetence in the management of national resource led the nation to accumulate huge internal and external debts and to run into serious balance of payments difficulties. Government was fast losing its ability to pay for the goods and services contracted or needed. The national economy tottered dangerously on the brink of collapse. Numerous industrial undertakings are at this very moment on the verge of total collapse and many had been forced to close down for lack of raw materials. Thousands of workers have lost their jobs and the sceptre of large-scale retrenchment has already appeared.

“The resultant scarcity of essential commodities was predictably accompanied by spiraling inflation. Frauds and embezzlement of public fund were committed with reckless abandon. Hired assassins and marauders were openly beginning to practice their trade in broad daylight. Perpetrators of corrupt practices resorted to arson to cover their trail, resulting in callous destruction of several expensive public buildings and even loss of lives.”

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