Lamentations Of T Y Danjuma


Retired General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma is a highly respected Nigeria elder statesman, not known to be a careless talker. When he talks he must have good reasons to do so. Therefore, his statement at a recent convocation ceremony of Taraba State University in Jalingo, should be considered as a serious call to Nigerians, or rather, a serious lamentation.
From the mouth of the former Chief of Army Staff, we hear that “the ethnic cleansing must stop now, otherwise Somalia will be like child’s play”. We also learn that over 1351 people lost their lives largely as a result of violent killer herdsmen attacks. Of more importance is Danjuma’s revelation that “the armed forces are not neutral. They are conniving with the armed bandits that are killing people” – quite a serious allegation from a former Chief of Army Staff. Are there Jihadists in the army?
Danjuma’s advice that all Nigerians should protect themselves rather than waiting for the armed forces alone to protect them, is not an alarmist call or hate speech. Despite speculations about conspiracy and complicity, it is a true fact that “Nigerians are no longer feeling secure in their land. Our country has in close to three years, assumed a state of killing field where defenceless citizens are despoiled, raped and moved by insurgents and marauders …”
Many Nigerians are wondering what is tearing the country and its people apart, far more than we had experienced before. The origin goes beyond Boko Haram and killer herdsmen alone. Definitely current situation in Nigeria calls for serious reflections, especially over how our present predicaments can be traced to our past activities. Future would also be shaped by present activities and reactions.
One Professor Sorokin handed us a theory worth reflecting on; he called it social and cultural dynamics. Briefly, nations are usually haunted by their past deeds, similar to the cliché that history repeats itself. We can hardly deny the fact that 1966 was a decisive year for Nigeria, which provides a peg for exploring subsequent affairs and dynamics of the Nigerian nation. Why did the military strike?
We cannot wish away the fact the military coup and counter coup of 1966 sowed the seeds of much of the present state of Nigeria. Ironically General T. Y. Danjuma was a key player in some episodes of the drama. While serving in the Police Regional Headquarters at Enugu then, I was in a privileged position to know much of what happened in 1966.
Even though some analysts place much emphasis on the Nigerian Civil War, rather than prior events to the war itself, Nigeria’s challenges took shape in the first five years after independence. Those who do not want to re-visit the true facts of those years would continue to miss the signposts. Efforts by some military officers to break the jinx was mis-judged and sabotaged, thus opportunity to build a new Nigeria was missed. The festering wounds continued.
What we have been doing all along is to apply nice-smelling perfume and clean bandages on a festering cancerous sore, without option of surgery.
The festering sore has spread and threatens other healthy parts of the body. Those in a position to do a clinical analysis of the ailment and work out lasting remedies are dead, compromised or estranged, as the virus continues to spread and defy remedy.
Truly, Nigeria is in a delicate situation. Danjuma’s lamentation is one of several that we will hear about. In moments of crises Providence usually endows a few people with vision of the shape of things to come. Such people are neither money-bags, politicians, clerics nor professors of political science. Like the sooth-sayer in Shakespeare’s Julius Ceaser, on the ides of March, it is usually the voice of power and arrogance that prevails.
Recession, corruption, insecurity, disunity, etc are not the worst calamities that a nation can experience because these are merely warning signals. Increase in wealth, might, glamour, etc, coupled with a decay in finer feelings can deaden a nation. Insensitivity to and drowning of warning signals can deaden a nation, despite hiring of praise-singers and marabouts “when Rome is on fire”.
T. Y. Danjuma should do more than pledge N100 million to university appeal fund, lament or advise Nigerians to protect themselves. Rather, let him call for a meeting of the remaining of those who knew what happened in 1966 and work out a programme of purging the conscience and make apologies – not the Secondus kind of apology. The souls of those killed in cold blood in Northern Nigeria are crying for justice. This should not be ignored.
Dr. Amirize is a retired lecturer, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt.

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Bura-Bari Nwilo lives in Port Harcourt, in Nigeria. He is the author of A Tiny Place Called Happiness – a book of stories.

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