In an interview he granted in February 2008, former Defence Minister General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (Rtd) promised to publish a tell all book about his life and times. ‘’It will be explosive’’, he said ‘’and so it is going to be one grenade of a book’’ (sic). Last week eleven years after that promise had gone unfulfilled, at an event marking seventy years of the Tribune Newspapers in Ibadan, the General came out to threaten that should he reveal the information at his disposal about happenings in the country, Nigerians will be so outraged as to “sleep no more’’ as he put it.
Considering the personality he is and the position he occupies in Nigeria, the passage of time between 2008 and 2019 and the momentous events that have happened in between with General Danjuma being either a participant or a key witness to them, his revelations if they ever come will have more the impact of a Tomahawk cruise missile than a mere grenade.
The General certainly knows how to choose the moment and venue to make his pronouncements for maximum effect. The last time Nigerians got to hear him say something profound, was during the convocation ceremony of the Taraba State University of which he was a guest of honour. At that event he pointedly accused the security and law enforcement agencies in the country of colluding with one side in the sectarian crises that had been rocking his state of Taraba. He then called on those he said were victims of this alleged collusion to take up arms in order to defend themselves.
Per his latest salvo from Ibadan most commentators have urged the General to come forth with his revelations without further delay. It is not as if he would be sanctioned from any quarter for whatever he says no matter how incendiary it may be to the well-being of the country. General Danjuma belongs in a group of a select few in this country who can confidently expect to get away with anything they say or do. He is not like Omoyele Sowere who the administration went after like a ton of bricks for his quixotic demand for a revolution in the country. Or Nnamdi Kanu whose movement of mainly overenthusiastic and unemployed Igbo youths was promptly proscribed, set upon and brutally clamped down by special forces of the Nigerian Army. Or Deji Adeyanju and Charly Boy both of whom incurred the wrath of the state for their publicity seeking stunts on the streets of Abuja.
General Danjuma on the other hand with all the considerable weight and capacity to match his utterances with effective action has not suffered any form of retribution for the inciting threats he has repeatedly made against the country that made him what he is today. So the General should by all means go ahead and speak as he has always done from his privileged position on what he knows about happenings in the country.
But for good measure whatever the General has to say about Nigeria should begin from his state Taraba and specifically the five local governments of southern Taraba; Ibbi, Wukari, Donga, Takum and Ussa. He should tell us why he kept quiet when Wukari and Ibbi were engulfed in a repeated orgy of sectarian violence leading to killings, destruction of properties and displacement of thousands of his Christian and Muslim kinsmen without his intervention to stop or stem the matter. We would also like to know why he was mum about the recent bloodbath that raged between Jukuns and Tivs in southern Taraba for months on end claiming hundreds of lives and destroying scores of settlements on both sides.
The people of Taraba would also be interested to know why the General could not bring his considerable influence to convene a conflict resolution parley to resolve the lingering issues that have led to sectarian violence all over the state.
General Danjuma has been molly coddled for too long in this country to the point he and others like him believe they breathe a different kind of air from other Nigerians. This is especially so in northern Nigeria. When a group of southern Tarabans after unsuccessfully trying to seek a meeting with him, approached some notable northern personalities to plead with the General to intervene in the crises in the area with a view to ending it and allowing displaced persons to return and rebuild their destroyed ancestral compounds and homesteads, the answer they got was to say the least shocking. They were told that for the central role he played in defending the ‘’interest’’ of the North in the July 29, 1966 coup and the civil war that followed he was beyond reproach on anything he says or does. Taraba, they were told matter-of-factly has been designated a special interest area for General Danjuma to do as he wished unchallenged.
It appears the self-absorbed General intends to extend his abiding crusade of incitement and subversion to the South-West. In this indulgence it is instructive that he chose to make his latest pronouncement in the same Ibadan where he led soldiers to strike down General Ironsi and the revered Governor of then Western Nigeria Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi in the July coup of 1966. Apparently because they are so much in awe of him, nobody in the audience could point out the irony and effrontery of one of the architects of the current dire situation in the country, hypocritically remonstrating South-West leaders for not doing enough to confront the government of the day.