MILITARY REGIME OF BUHARI AND IDIAGBON
January 1984 – August 1985
T he demise of the inglorious second Republic under the leadership of Alhaji Shehu Aliyu Shagari, the First Executive President of Nigeria was brought about the total breakdown of law and order, and the apparent insecurity in the country arising from the bitter political wrangling generated by the 1983 general elections. The nation was moving dangerously in murky political waters and could have hit the reefs but the timely intervention came to her rescue.
The abysmal downward plunge of the already battered economy, the unmitigated corruption, greed, avarice, lack of public probity and accountability, hunger and abject poverty, and the aimless drifting of the ship of state
which characterised the last days of the Second Republic prompted the Armed Forces to strike in the midnight of December 31, 1983 and installed Major General Muhammadu Buhari (then GOC 3rd Division, Jos) as the new Head of State.
The Buhari administration identified indiscipline as the bane of the nation’s ills and therefore decided to fight it in all its ramifications. Hence the pre-occupation of the regime was the launching of the different phases of the War Against Indiscipline (WAI) which has become a household word in may Nigerian homes. There were five phases of WAI, namely :-
Other highlights of the regime include :-
1. The suspension of the 1979 Constitution in January 1984.
2. The dissolution of political parties and ban on political activities in January 1984.
3. The freezing of accounts of political parties and corrupt ex-political office holders in the Second Republic in 1984.
4. The trimming down of the country’s Civil service labour force in 1984.
5. The change of colour of the nation’s currency notes (except the fifty kobo note) in April 1984 to stop currency trafficking. The exercise rendered almost half of the estimated N6 billion in circulation worthless at the expiration of the change.
6. The deportation of illegal aliens on the 14th of April, 1984 and 9th of August, 1985 respectively.
7. The clamp down on economic saboteurs with the legal backing of the Miscellaneous Offences Decree No. 20 of 1984.
8. The launching of the Expanded Immunization Programme (EPI) in May, 1984.
9. The initiation of counter trade in Petroleum products in May, 1984.
10. The wrestling of a major concession from OPEC in 1984 to increase Nigeria’s oil production quota from 1.3 million barrels to 1.45 million barrels per day.
11. The adoption of stricter austerity measures in 1984 and 1985 to further revamp the economy which include:
i. The closure of the Nigerian borders in January 1984 to stem smuggling.
ii. The setting up of taskforce to check bunkering as a result of expert’s estimation of a loss of one million Naira a day under the civilian government.
iii. The slashing of the basic travelling allowance (BTA) from N 500 to N 100 per annum in 1984.
iv. The introduction of N 100 airport special levy for travellers going outside Africa.
v. The reduction of the home remittance for foreigners to 25 per cent in 1984.
vi. The abolition of the Approved Users Scheme, the General Concessionary Rates of Duty and the Compulsory Advance Deposit Scheme.
vii. The introduction of a new Customs Tariff, which reduced the range of import duties from between zero and 500 per cent to between 5 per cent and 200 per cent.
viii. The granting of import duty exemption to only twenty items including agricultural implements, air craft, fuels, lubricants, educational films, technical assistance materials etc.
ix The introduction of the Advanced Import Duty Payment Scheme.
x. The imposition of a levy on dormant companies.
xi. The promulgation of the Finance Decrees to amend the Income Tax Act of 1969.
xii. The halving of civil servants’ leave entitlement in January, 1985.
12. The trial and conviction of ex-politicians who illegally enriched themselves or their political parties.
13 In 1984, Nigeria’s recognition of the Sahara Arab Democratic Republic (SADR) on November 11, 1984.
14. The encouragement of substitution of imported raw materials with local raw materials to boost the growth of industries.
15. The encouragement of self sufficiency in agricultural food production.
16. The promulgation of a series of decrees aimed at revamping the economy and inculcating discipline. The most controversial being the Public Officers (Protection Against False Accusation) Decree No 4 and the Miscellaneous Offences Decree No. 20 of 1984.
17. The rescheduling of the nations’s short term trade debts valued at over =N=5 billion and the subsequent issuance of promissory notes to the uninsured creditors.
18. The procurement of new Air Buses by Nigeria Airways in 1985 to boost air transportation.
19. The victory of Nigeria’s Under-17 Team (the Golden Eagles) at the Kodak World Cup Soccer Competition in China in August, 1985.