By Tony Onyima
Special to USAfrica multimedia networks Houston and USAfricaonline.com
General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd), Nigeria’s former Minister of Defence a few days ago, In December 2019, spoke himself into national news talking point. Danjuma says that “nobody in Nigeria will sleep again” if he reveals what he knows happening in Nigeria.
He spoke at the University of Ibadan during the launch of a book “70 Years of Progressive Journalism: The Story of the Nigerian Tribune” and the presentation of Tribune’s Platinum Awards. Danjuma, a former Chief of Army Staff (1975-1979) also chided the Southwest leaders for their silence over the state of affairs in the country.
His words: “In Yorubaland, everybody seems to have lost their voice, scared. And people appear not to care about what is happening. If I tell you what I know that is happening in Nigeria today, you will no longer sleep. We are in a big hole as a nation. And people who put us in this hole have continued today. So, we’ve to wake up. Only we can save ourselves. The fifth columnists’ activities going on among your people are not helping matters. May Almighty God continue to bless this country, but only we can save ourselves from ourselves.”
This is not the first time Danjuma will be threatening Nigerians about what he knows. In a newspaper interview published on Sunday, February 17, 2008, Danjuma said that his memoir will be a grenade. “You know what a grenade is – it explodes”, he said. Eleven years down the line, he is yet to drop the grenade.
But a few things will strike you after reading Danjuma. He presumes to know a lot of things happening in the country particularly at the corridors of power. Truly he may know given his background and reach.
Again he assumes that he is performing a patriotic duty by alerting the nation to what’s happening. But what is it that Danjuma knows that will make Nigerians not to sleep if he reveals them? Perhaps he will tell us about the shadowy cabal behind the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari. Mrs. Aisha Buhari has already told us that. Will he restate the acts of impunity of this administration? People like Femi Falana and other political ‘born agains’ have been shouting about the lack of rule of law in the country. Or will he talk about the humongous level of poverty in the country?
The World Bank has already warned us that Nigeria may be the capital of poverty in the next few years if we do not tackle crushing unemployment in the country. I have been wondering what else will Danjuma tell us that will make us lose sleep. As a minority Christian Jukun in Taraba State will he talk about the nepotistic appointments made by this administration? That is in the public domain. So what else?
As a businessman involved in the oil industry; will he tell us about how the oil blocks were allocated to friends and cronies? Nigerians, particularly people from Niger Delta, have always known that. So can someone tell Danjuma that we have been sleeping soundly and that there’s nothing he will tell us that make will wake us up from our slumber.
But there’s something worrying about Danjuma’s statement. One is his moral authority to tell us about the “people who put us in this hole”. Haba! But Danjuma has always been part of the “people who put us in this hole”, beginning from July 29, 1966, when he shot himself into national limelight. Even as recent as the Obasanjo administration, Danjuma has been in the power loop either as a participant, adviser, kingmaker or as a wheeler dealer. Is Danjuma angry now because he is no longer part of the “people who put us in this hole” who have continued till today? My second worry about Danjuma’s statement is the historic nature of the place where he made the statement.
Recall that it was Danjuma who led a group of soldiers to desecrate Ibadan when they killed Major-General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, then Head of State and his host Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi, then Military Governor of Western Region. The Ibadan coup, historians have continued to insist, irreversibly put Nigeria on the path to civil war. Almost 50 years after the unfortunate war, Nigeria is yet to come out of the ‘hole’ Danjuma and his adventurers put the country into with their unbridled ambition. Yet, self-righteous Danjuma tells us that we cannot sleep if he reveals what’s happening in the country. I totally disagree. Please help me tell Danjuma that Nigerians havE seen it all and there’s nothing he will say now that will make us lose sleep. Concluding, I will join Danjuma in his prayer for Nigeria: “May Almighty God continue to bless this country; but only we can save ourselves …” from people like Danjuma.
*Onyima, former commissioner for information in Anambra state, will contribute editorial commentary to USAfrica print and online platforms.