WHY COLONEL BUKAR DIMKA STRUCK IN 1976

Why did Colonel Bukar Dimka sought to overthrow the military regime of General Muritala Muhammed in 1976?Image

U.S diplomatic cables from Nigeria 1976

A CIA intelligence assessment  gleaned from their Nigeria sources. 

1. SEVERAL THOUGHTFUL SOURCES WITHIN PROFESSIONAL AND BUSINESS COMMUNITY HERE WITH WHOM WE HAVE TALKED OVER PAST WEEK BELIEVE FEBRUARY 13 COUP ATTEMPT STEMMED CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 02 LAGOS 02740 051507Z FROM TWO INDIGENOUS CIRCUMSTANCES (A) BOTH OF WHICH ARE STILL VERY MUCH WITH US; AND (B) NEITHER OF WHICH HAD ANYTHING TO DO WITH CIA, OTHER AMERICANS, MARTIN LEQUESNE, OTHER BRITISH OR PARTICIPATION GOWON AND OTHER EX-REGIME OFFICALS. 2. MOST PROBABLY CAUSES OF DIMKA’S ATTEMPT ARE (A) FEELING AMONG ARMY OFFICERS FROM MIDDLEBELT-MINORITY TRIBES THAT, AS RESULT JULY 29 COUP, THEY WERE RAPIDLY LOSING THE MEASURE OF SECURITY AND INFLUENCE THE MIDDLEBELT HAD GAINED AS RESULT JULY 1966 COUP; AND THAT THEIR INFLUENCE AS BROKER BETWEEN NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN FACTIONS IN ARMY WAS RAPIDLY DISAPPEARING; AND (B) RECENT PROMOTIONS OF TOP OFFICERS WHICH ANGERED (A) MANY MIDDLE-GRADE OFFICERS BECAUSE THEY WERE NOT MOVE UP AT SAME TIME, WHILE SOME TOP BRASS GOT DOUBLE PROMOTIONS; (II) TRADITIONALISTS INSIDE MILITARY SERVICES WHO CONSIDERED MOHAMMED’S, OBASANJO’S AND DANJUMA’S PREDATED COUBLE PROMOTIONS A SCANDAL; (III) MIDDLEBELT OFFICERS WHO FELT, IN ADDITION TO (I) AND (II) THAT MIDDLEBELT MINORITIES DID NOT FIGURE PROMINENTLY ENOUGH IN PROMOTIONS THAT WERE MADE, FUELING THEIR SUSPICIONS OF CONSPIRACY TO BREAK MIDDLEBELT POWER TO VETO NATIONAL POLICIES AND (PERHAPS MORE IMPORTANTLY) FUTURE MILITARY PROMOTIONS. 3. ATTEMPT RESTORE GOWON VERY PROBABLY MADE WITHOUT HIS ENCOURAGEMENT, AND PROBABLY WITHOUT HIS KNOWLEDGE, BY FELLOW MIDDLEBELTER DIMKA WHO (A) WAS NOT CLOSE TO GOWON BUT IDOLIZED HIM; (B) THOUGHT OF GARBA AND DANJUMA AS TRAITORS TO MIDDLEBELT CAUSE; AND (C) THOUGH EX-GOVERNORS AND OTHER DISCREDITED OFFICIALS HAD MORE POPULAR ARMY SUPPORT AND WILLINGNESS TO BACK COUP THAN TURNED OUT TO BE THE CASE. DIMKA LIVED IN A FANTASY LAND IN WHICH HE EXPECTED POWERFUL ELEMENTS, PERHAPS NONE OF WHOM KNEW HIS PLANS, TO BE GRATEFULLY RESTORED TO POWER. COUP ATTEMPT BECAME EXERCISE IN THUD AND BLUNDER. 4. BETTING SEEMS TO BE EVEN THAT OBASANJO CAN LAST IN TOP OFFICE MORE THAN TWO MONTHS. PNMANTS ARE CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 03 LAGOS 02740 051507Z NOT CONGRATULATING SELVES ON HAVING FIRST YORUBA HEAD OF STATE BECAUSE (A) MIDDLEBELT DISSATISFACTION HAS BEEN HEIGHTENED BY AFTERMATH ATTEMPTED COUP, E.G., BY HAR- ADUA’S PROMOTION TO SECOND SLOT IN HIERARCHY; (B) WIDE- SPREAD PLOTTING AGAINST OBASANJO REGIME BELIEVED TO BE GOING ON WITHIN ARMY RANKS; (C) OBASANJO IS NO LONGER A YORUBAMA, BUT AS DETRIBALIZED NOBODY WHO IS HOSTAGE TO NORTHERN INTERESTS. 5. COMMENT: ADDED UP, I GET THE IMPRESSION LOCALLY OF A FRAGILE FMG, LITTLE SUPPORT FOR OBASANJO EVEN AMONG HIS OWN TRIBESMEN, AND THE POSSIBILITY OF ANOTHER OR SERIES OF COUP ATTEMPTS-LEADING PERHAPS TO AN EVEN LESSER VOMMON DENOMINATOR OF POLITICAL SOPHISTICATION TO OBASANJO OR ANY LIKELY SUCCESSOR TO BLAME LOCAL PROBLEMS ON WESTERN FOREIGNERS CAN BECOME IRRESISTIBLE. 6. SQUABBLE OVER PROMOTIONS IN ARMY THAT WOULD LEAD TO COUP ATTEMPT AND ASSASSINATION HEAD OF STATE SOUNDS THIN AT FIRST READING. ASSESSMENT, HOWEVER, MUST ENCOMPASS (1) BRITISH MILITARY TRAINING-WHICH EQUATES IN NIGERIAN ARMY MENTALITY LACK OF PROMOTION WITH PERSONAL FAILURE AND DECLINE PRESTIGE; (2) POPULAR EQUATION OF “BIG MAN” WITH EXPECTATION TRIBAL BENEFITS; AND (3) IN THIS CASE, LONG EXPLOITED AND NEGLECTED MINORITY TRIBES FROM MIDDLEBELT, WHO FELT THEY HAD ADEQUATE REPRESENTATION FOR FIST TIME IN HISTORY UNDER GOWON REGIME. BARR UNQUOTE ADDITIONAL EMBASSY TEXT FOR REPEAT ADDRESSEES: COMMENT: TROOP MOVEMENTS IN LAGOS TEND TO SUBSTANTIATE REPORTS OF FMG MISTRUST FOR MIDDLE BELTERS. BRIGADE OF GUARDS (WITH HEAVY CONCENTRATION OF MIDDLE BELTERS) FORMERLY STATIONED AT DODAN BARRACKS AND BONNY CAMP (VICTORIA ISLAND), REPORTEDLY DEPLOYED BY TRAIN TO DADUNA. CONVOY OF ARMED TROOPS WITH WIVES AND CHILDREN, APPARENTLY COMING FROM DODAN BARRACKS, PASSED EMBASSY MARCH 2. SOLDIERS WERE IN GOOD SPIRITS, SMILING AND CONFIDENTIAL CONFIDENTIAL PAGE 04 LAGOS 02740 051507Z WAVING AT BYSTANDERS. SIMULTANEOUSLY, NEW AS YET UNIDENTIFIED BATTALION-SIZED UNIT CAMPET IN TENTS ON VICTORIA ISLAND. EASUM CONFIDENTIAL

 

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