Two Saturdays ago, General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma more fondly referred to as T.Y. or simply Danjuma, threw a bombshell. Predictably, the public has been divided over his pronouncements which he made in the university of his home state, Taraba State University, Jalingo. On the occasion, lamenting the country’s state of insecurity, he said that it might be wise not to rely on our Army and the police to protect us. He said they were not disinterested parties in the security crisis, that they could be implicated in the activities of the criminal elements who have laid siege to the nation for this so troublingly a long time. He warned the citizens to defend themselves and protect their territory for if we relied on our security outfits as they are today, Nigerians would all be killed one by one.
Here is someone who rarely, very, very rarely dabbles in public discourse. He is taciturn as everybody has attested to. He is a player, yet aloof. His public appearances have been to lend a helping hand here and give succour there by way of philanthropy. Anyone who has had the fortune of being at board meetings with T.Y. would testify to his taciturnity. His mien is severe, and his gaze is piercing. His words are oracular.
He asks searching questions fixing his gaze threateningly at you. You can easily read his bold thoughts from his bold eyeballs with their rays shooting at you. He would begin by asking questions, for he comes to the meeting prepared. Then he would speak from a certain depth and with unbridled fearlessness of a soldier such that at the end of his pronouncement, the meeting just rises and you pack your files and go. He has had the last word, short but profound. Those who interact with him in other spheres of life say that is his profile, too. And that is where the problem lies.
There are three musketeers who have occupied our public space and who have become national institutions—Olusegun Obasanjo, Theophilus Danjuma and Ibrahim Babangida. We can say whatever we like about them; we can abuse them, especially Obasanjo and Babangida, we cannot ignore them. For the three of them to express disenchantment with goings-on in the country, we have to watch it. It is a wake-up call to Buhari. But then this position imposes a heavy and sacred burden on them. And it is a position that calls for a very careful weighing. They are not expected to, like the rest of us in the street, rush to talk and action and compound the problem they want to solve.
They have their network and intelligence gathering mechanisms. It will, therefore, be foolish to throw what T.Y. has said out of the window and join issues with him. He paved the way for Obasanjo to be head of state after Murtala’s assassination in 1976. It is a mark of the revered and overarching position he commanded among the troops and senior officers that made him to succeed. He was always taken seriously. Babangida was, for lack of a better expression, his boy, his principal staff officer. He loved him, and he believed in him absolutely, and he has a glittering testimonial for Buhari whom he admires greatly for his professional and personal discipline. He brandishes the testimonial before anyone who cares to read it. Why then would he not take his observations to Buhari, it may be asked? Since Babangida’s days, he has learnt to keep his respectable distance so that a feeling of being nosy and dictated to would not arise.
It is T.Y.’s stature and the weight of his pronouncement that has made everybody to sit up in his chair in these last two weeks for deep introspection; Whither our nation? For a long time, the state of our security has been a matter for concern, and there have been private, community, neighbourhood efforts for protection outside of what the government offers. It cannot be but heart-rendering for Danjuma to see Nigerians mowed down like fowls and his state become a theater of undeclared war. What does anybody want to teach Danjuma about military science and operations? And as someone who shoots straight, who calls a spade a spade and who has been Chief of Army Staff and the Minister of Defence, he knows what he is saying.
We should appreciate the undertones of his pains, his sorrow and concern. That Danjuma has asked everyone to be at alert has certainly put a stamp of legitimization on self-help. Coming from Danjuma, it has grave implications. And it must have sent cold shivers down the spine in several quarters. I would have thought that after his correct analysis, he would then add his weighty voice to the clamour for the state police and like Babangida say it is urgent. That would be the preferred option of organized state security across the country. Babangida says the fears of misuse by the governors are exaggerated, and that we cannot remain in the old and expect a different result. IBB should know. That is what T.Y. should use his immense influence to orchestrate and help the nation to achieve. It is simply and more reassuring than every family raising its own army—officially!
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