Posted by News Express | 29 March 2018 | 2,135 times
Theophillus Danjuma, a retired General of the Nigerian Army and former Minister of Defence, could not be more agitated. He wore a troubled visage. His darting eyes spoke volumes. They told stories of their own. They betrayed the inner and private convictions of the man. He was called out to speak. The convocation lecture of Taraba State University provided the platform. It was an occasion to reflect on the state of the nation.
For a Danjuma who has lately been troubled by the happenings in the land, it was a veritable opportunity to speak truth to power. And he did.
In recent weeks, bandits who are loosely referred to as Fulani herdsmen have stepped up their bloodletting assaults. They kill freely and routinely. They look unstoppable, having harassed natives across the country into submission. They operate with effrontery. They exude an audaciousness that many cannot fathom. But the likes of Danjuma understand. They know why things have gone bizarre. And Danjuma, unable to hold back any longer, has let the cat out of the bag. He spoke with a heavy heart. He must have wondered how we got to this dangerous bend.
What was his message? He has taken a cold, hard look at the state of affairs in the country and could no longer look the other way. The killer herdsman is powerful and arrogant because he is aided and abetted. He is goaded on by a partial military. Danjuma insists that our armed forces are not neutral. They collude with the bandits in their killing spree. They guide and cover them up in their concert of blood. That is why they are on rampage. The armed forces who are supposed to rein them in are part of them. It is, therefore, naive and stupid to look up to the armed forces for protection. Danjuma has alerted us to the fact that they cannot protect us. He has also alerted us to the ethnic cleansing going on across the country, including his native Taraba. He has, therefore, asked Nigerians to rise up and defend themselves. He has warned that, if the people do not heed his call, they will all be killed one after the other.
That is the clarion call from Danjuma. It is a call to arms.
Before he stepped forward to be counted, concerned Nigerians have had cause to be suspicious of the federal government and, by extension, the military in the ongoing bloodletting. The overall impression is that the killer herdsmen are being protected by those who ought to bring them to justice. Nobel laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, said that much recently when he held that the federal government was looking the other way while the armed herdsman killed and maimed. For Soyinka, government is culpable. It must be held complicit.
But it looks to me like the reality of the situation has come to Danjuma like a late dawn. He must have been taken unawares. He did not see it coming. Danjuma was one of those who wished for a Buhari presidency. He did not step out publicly to say so. But subtle moves gave him away. We must recall that Danjuma breezed into Aso Rock a few weeks to the 2015 presidential election to see President Goodluck Jonathan. He did not disclose his mission when he was accosted by reporters. But we were to learn weeks later that he had gone to caution Jonathan against any attempt to hang on to power. Danjuma knew then that the northern establishment had conspired against Jonathan. He probably knew that Jonathan had been programmed to lose the election. He, therefore, went to prepare the president’s mind on what was about to happen. His visit to Jonathan was a subtle act of intimidation. He was one of those who harassed Jonathan out of office without making it look obvious.
However, Danjuma let out the secret of his mission to Aso Rock shortly after Jonathan was said to have lost at the polls. Having been declared the loser of the election, Jonathan remembered. He recalled that a certain Danjuma had forewarned him. He conceded defeat probably on the advice of the likes of Danjuma. When, therefore, Jonathan left the Presidential Villa in search of Danjuma, he did so probably to thank him for his counsel. It was then that the retired general opened up. He praised Jonathan for conceding defeat and for averting war. He went ahead to say that the Biafran War would have been averted if Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, the leader of the Republic of Biafra, had listened to wise counsel. Jonathan was satisfied. And he went home with his load of defeat. But, by his comment, Danjuma betrayed the fact that he wished for and welcomed the Buhari presidency. Now, the presidency he helped to bring about has become a nightmare to his people of Taraba and Nigerians in general. Danjuma, certainly, regrets it all.
But we will not single out Danjuma for blame. He is not alone. He is just one of the many Nigerians that erred over the Buhari presidency. But it is heartwarming that they have begun to see clearly now. We forgive their short-sightedness and welcome them back to reality. However, there is one other reality they are admitting rather too late. And that is that the Nigerian military has never been neutral in any national crisis. If they are colluding with the bandits of today as Danjuma has alleged, they will be behaving true to type. During the pogroms of 1966 and 1967 in which hundreds of thousands of Igbo were massacred in the North, the military aided and abetted the murders. The Igbo had nowhere to run to because the armed forces were in full support of the uprisings directed at the Igbo. If the military were not complicit in those pogroms, they would have saved a large number of the Igbo population in the North from being killed. They would have stopped the blood-thirsty avengers who were hungry for Igbo blood. If Danjuma did not notice the partiality and collusion of the military then, it was because he was on the side of the hounds that sought then to exterminate the Igbo from the surface of the earth. What we have in our hands now is just a case of what goes around comes around.
Whatever may be his transgressions in the past, we must salute Danjuma for his courage. At least, he did not turn a blind eye to evil to the end. He has spoken frankly. He has said it the way it is. Nigerians need people like him to wake them up from slumber. Many discerning Nigerians know what the Danjumas of this world know. But they do not have the courage to speak up. When Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State was invaded by bandits in April 2016, many knew that the murderers could not have navigated through Benue State into Enugu State without being noticed by the security agencies that man our highways. In Plateau State, villages are routinely attacked by bandits. It is only when they are through with their actions that the security agencies will scamper to the place and pretend to be searching for the murderers. The story is the same everywhere. Nigerians know the truth. But they are scared stiff of speaking truth to power. Let the Danjumas and the Soyinkas take the lead. Distraught Nigerians will follow.
•This column originally appeared in today’s edition of Daily Sun. Amanze Obi can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org
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