Published On: Mon, Aug 15th, 2016

Why I took over as Head of State after Murtala Muhammed’s assassination — Obasanjo

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obasanjoseFormer President Olusegun Obasanjo on Monday said he was “persuaded” to take over the reins of power in the country in 1976

Obasanjo became Nigeria’s Head of State after the 1976 coup which claimed the life of the then head of state, Murtala Muhammed.

He was the second-in-command at the time but narrowly escaped being killed by the coup plotters.

Mr. Muhammed was killed on February 13,1976 in a coup spearheaded by Bukarsuka Dimka, a colonel in the Nigerian Army.

Mr. Obasanjo recollected the events that led to his ascension when he hosted the cast and crew of the yet to be released film, titled “1976” at his Presidential Library in Abeokuta.

The former president said Nigerians had thought that the coup would bring the country to an end.

He said there were misconceptions about the coup, which upturned the political situation at that time.

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Mr. Obasanjo said the misconception stemmed from the fact that most of those involved in the coup were Christians and killing the head of state, who was a Muslim, was seen as a bad signal for a nation.

“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,” Mr. Obasanjo recalled.

“Where will it amount to; where will it lead us to and where will it lead us out? These were what Nigerians had in mind.”

Speaking further on his experience with the slain Mr. Muhammed, Mr. Obasanjo said, “We worked like jackass for the peace of the country and I was persuaded to take over the headship of the country”.

On the film, which was partly shown during the interaction, Mr. Obasanjo described the film, as “a mixture of sweet and sorrow”.

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“It will make us to remind ourselves not to go back to the dark days, which put us in ‘go-no-go’ situation.

“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.”

The film’s Executive Producer, Tonye Princewill, remarked that 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.

“The youth of today need to have a sense of the past, hence the resolve to have the film 1976, which is simply called ’76,” he explained.

Mr. Princewill said the visit to Mr. 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”

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