Anytime a roll call of Nigeria’s famous army generals is called, the name General Domkat Bali will be definitely mentioned.
Minister of Defence and member of the Supreme Military Council between 1984 and 1985, and the Armed Forces Ruling Council of 1985 to 1990, Domkat Bali was also joint chief of staff between 1984 and 1985 when President Muhammadu Buhari was head of state.
His death, however, has re-ignited inquiries into his life and times in the military.
A highpoint of that was how Domkat Bali rebuffed General Ibrahim Babangida’s Directive as Head of State and quit the army; that exit was in 1989.
It followed Babangida’s reshuflement of his cabinet, whereby he removed Domkat Bali as Defence Minister, posting him to Ministry of Internal Affairs instead.
Recalling the circumstances in an interview with The News magazine in 2006, Bali had said:
“To be very frank with you, the Ministry of Internal Affairs is a very important ministry, but that was not my problem.
“My problem was that as a military officer, I was senior both to Babangida and Buhari, but I served under both as Minister of Defence and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“I could accept that they were heads of state. You cannot remove the fact that I was a senior to both of them.
“And when Babangida came, he said, ‘ok, you are no longer Chief of Defence Staff, but Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff.’ If I am not that, then I am also junior to all other military people other than the Head of State, which I would not accept.
“I could accept that I was junior to the Head of State but to accept that I was also junior to other junior officers to me, that was unacceptable.
“That was the main reason that I had to leave. Not because I was made the Minister of Internal Affairs.
“Some people said it was because I was taking over from John Shagaya who was also a junior officer. Those were not the issues at all.”
On why he rejected a national merit award of commander of the federal republic (CFR) given to him during ex-President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, he had said:
“It makes no sense to me. I saw the recent national merit award given to me as an insult to my personality. They told me the 2011 honour awarded me is Commander of the Federal Republic, CFR.
But the Federal Government of Nigeria gave me in the past a higher national merit honor as Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, GCON, which is the second highest national honour in Nigeria.
So what this current government offers me in 2011 National Merit Award is inferior to what I have before now,” he had said