Muhammadu buhari is seen here (EXTREME LEFT) in the Lugard Platoon in the Young Officers’ course No. 5 on April 9, 1962 at the Nigeria Military Training College, NMTC Kaduna (which later metamorphosed into the Nigeria Defence Academy, NDA) from May 1963 to July 1963.
He was appointed the Military Governor of the North-East State. In the wave of the sometimes indiscriminate retrenchment exercises going on in the public service nationwide at the time under the Murtala Muhammed regime, he ensured the exercise was tempered down to a reasonable extent and to those who fell victims, he issued a directive on November 3, 1975 for prompt payment of pension and gratuities and other severance allowances due any worker who was laid off from service in order to ameliorate their plight.
On October 5, 1976, then Colonel Buhari was appointed Federal Commissioner of Petroleum Resources and on July 1, 1977 he became the head of the newly established Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC. It was under his administration that the contract for the establishment of the Kaduna Petroleum Refinery Complex, the third refinery in the country was signed.
At different times in his military career, General Buhari commanded the 2nd, 3rd, and the then 4th Infantry Division; he also served as Assistant Adjutant General in the 1st Infantry Division in Kaduna but perhaps it is as General Officer Commanding of the 3rd Armoured Division in Jos that he distinguished himself the most. On the 18th of April 1983, Chadian troops sprung a surprise attack on Nigerian troops and sent the unit on one of the islands into flight. Irked at the national disgrace, General Buhari flew by helicopter to personally reconnoiter the affected islands. He ordered the transfer of his divisional head quarters to Maiduguri in less than six hours. He stayed up all night to strategise and authorize preparations for war. This was against the backdrop of vehement opposition from the Chief of Defence Staff and even then President Shehu Shagari who favoured a less militaristic response to the crisis. Against the advice of some of his commanders who favoured the deployment of two divisions to combat the Chadian offensive in the conventional 2:1 ratio, he insisted on the deployment of only the 21 Armoured Brigade. His tactic of closing the border and deploying compact, heli-borne, and civil war-hardened, well-equipped, and well-motivated units to Chad paid off. He personally supervised the day-to-day progress of the operations. Within weeks his troops had recaptured twenty islands.