As former head of state, General Abdulsalam Abubakar turns 74 today June 13.
INFORMATION NIGERIA brings you 10 interesting facts about the General, who was born in Minna, Niger State.
1.Abdulsalam Abubakar is Nigeria’s eighth military Head of State (after Ironsi, Gowon, Mohammed, Obasanjo, Buhari, Babangida and Abacha) since the country’s independence from Britain 56 years ago.
2. He enlisted first into the Airforce but quickly switched to the army.
3.He also served as a Nigerian contingent to the United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon between 1981 and 1982 after which he was promoted to colonel in August 1984.
4.Abubakar is one of the few generals in the Nigerian army who rose to the top without holding political office.
5.Before Abacha’s sudden death, Abubakar was one of those pressing for a rapid end to military rule. Speaking at a seminar to mark Navy week, a short time before Abacha died, he said “the survival of the country depends on a rapid and peaceful transition to a lasting democracy”.
6.Strangely enough, former head of state Ibrahim Babangida grew up in the same household with Abubakar because Abubakar’s father adopted Babangida who was orphaned at birth.
7.After Abacha’s death, Gen Abdulsalam Abubakar, his loyal Chief of Defence Staff, stepped immediately into his shoes as Nigeria’s head of state. Unlike many other Nigerian military leaders, who promised a return to civilian government and never kept their promise, he did.
8.He established a plan for multiparty elections, and he set May 29, 1999, as the swearing-in date for the new civilian president.
9.Abubakar helped in the Liberian peace movement by presiding over the 2003 peace talks between Charles Taylor and the opposing rebels. This is seen in the movie: “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”.
10.He is married to Fatima, is a high court judge. They together have three daughters and two sons.