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Danjuma and the ominous times

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Theophilus Danjuma

The “defend yourselves or you will all die” statement over the weekend by the top former chief of army staff, General T. Y. Danjuma (retd), is instructive and should not be brushed aside.

Coming from no other person than the highly rated former army chief, the statement should be closely analysed by the Buhari administration to extract the kernel in it.

According to reports, Gen. Danjuma made his statement at the maiden convocation of the Taraba State University, Jalingo, where he was awarded an honorary doctorate degree in science.

Provoked by the ceaseless killings by herdsmen in his state, Taraba, and other parts of the country, he reportedly advised communities attacked by herdsmen to defend themselves and not to rely on the armed forces, saying that the military has compromised.

He bluntly accused the military of not being neutral but colluding with the armed bandits that kill Nigerians. He said the ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State and all the other states of Nigeria.

Serious charge, one would say. For if the armed forces that everybody is relying on for defense are compromised, then, there is no hope. Residents of Danjuma’s hometown of Takum had reportedly accused the army of brutality and extortion, which might have informed Danjuma’s outburst.

But why a man of Danjuma’s calibre made such a damning statement should be of concern to the government. Is there any iota of truth in what he said or was it just a ramble.

The Buhari administration should investigate this serious allegation, if for no other thing but to vindicate the armed forces. Government should respond from the point of reasoning and not see Danjuma as criticizing the government for no just cause.

After all, his own Taraba people are being slaughtered. He has the moral responsibility to be a patriotic son.

But this is not the first time that some prominent Nigerians have exploded in their frenzy over Nigeria’s situation. Several top Nigerians have expressed the same sour feeling about the country in different ways.

As it were, even the blind could perceive the palpable tension in the land. And you don’t tell the deaf that there is commotion in the market. Once he sees people running, he will take to his heels.

The other day, Nobel Laureate and Professor Wole Soyinka said that herdsmen have declared war on Nigeria. He said Nigerians have tolerated destruction by herdsmen for too long.

He maintained that the long acceptance is what led to the situation the country is facing with herdsmen killing uncontrollably and unchecked.

In his own outburst, former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku in expressing his fears about the country said Nigeria is adrift, only restructuring can save it. He said Nigeria will be better if restructured into regions.

Constitutional Lawyer and elder statesman Professor Ben Nwabueze declared the other day that the 2019 election will make or mar Nigeria. He questioned why semi-illiterates are governing Nigeria and whether we are compatible in this “One Nigeria.”

Last year, Chief Ayo Opadokun said Nigeria has been living a lie regretting that “our expectations have been dashed”. He called on President Muhammadu Buhari to restructure Nigeria now.

But the fiery spokesman of the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) and former Vice Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University, Professor Ango Abdullahi, last week declared that the North will resist restructuring, something that the entire country are calling for, which would even benefit the North more.

Apart from oil, the North can boast of having more mineral resource endowment than the South. Besides, finding oil in the North is not ruled out as better technology is employed in the explorations.

That Nigeria started on a regional structure that advanced the fortunes of the country is not in doubt. What is in doubt is why the North whose economy boomed under the regional structure no longer want a regional structure even when what they have over the years is being destroyed in broad daylight by insurgency.

The foregoing few examples show that obviously many of Nigeria’s elder statesmen are not happy with the turn of events in the country. They are bewildered and regret the state of affairs in nation they expected to be a leading power in Africa and the world.

Each of the statements is as weighty enough like that of Danjuma. If anything, all should be treated the same way.

Those who saw Nigeria in the 30s, 40s, 50s and even 60s before the civil war broke out are totally disappointed with Nigeria. Their expectations have been dashed. More than half a century after independence, Nigeria’s potentials are still latent. The only oil that has been explored is mismanaged and breeds corruption. And for the younger generation, the situation looks bleak. There seems to be no future except this madness is stopped.

Danjuma has, since the 60s, been in the corridors of power or close to those who are there. He was in the forefront of those who prosecuted the civil war against Biafra to keep Nigeria together. As a matter of fact, he has seen it all.

Curiously, his venom is poured on the army, his primary constituency and not necessarily on Buhari’s government, except that Buhari is the President and Commander in-Chief of the armed forces.

Danjuma’s statement carries much weight. It should serve as a wakeup call on the President to take a second look at the spate of killings tearing Nigeria apart. The army should also count their teeth with their tong.

Although, the presidency has reprimanded Danjuma over his statement and described it as “an invitation to anarchy”, a top former military chief, who is conversant with the espirit de corp, the rules of engagement in the army, knows what he is saying. Frustration, anger and hopelessness over how people are being slaughtered in their numbers across the country by marauding herdsmen spurred Danjuma’s outburst.

Therefore, rather than vilify him, Danjuma, and in fact all former top military brass should be summoned to a round table to proffer solution to the senseless killings. Being patriotic citizens, I am sure they will offer to help find a lasting solution to the deepening crisis between Muslims and Christians.

For those who don’t know who General T. Y. Danjuma is, he is from Takum in Taraba State. A politician and multi-millionaire businessman and philanthropist, he was the Chief of Staff of the Nigerian army from July 1975 and 1979 under the regime of former Head of State, General Olusegun Obasanjo.

He was also Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council under Acting President Goodluck Jonathan.

A highly successful and astute businessman, Danjuma is the chairman of South Atlantic Petroleum (SAPETRO). He has played varied active roles in Nigeria’s politics and has enduring legacy.



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