By Kolawole Anthony
At age 80, a man should naturally be making peace with his maker and seeking forgiveness from fellow humans for whatever he might have done to sin against them. When this does not happen, the cause may be connected with the emerging phenomenon of people bestowing a god-state upon themselves, whereby certain individuals become rich and powerful to the point that they no longer see themselves on the same pedestal as mere mortals especially when they can spew forth decrees from their opulent temples without fear of being censured or called into account.
Even this view is not sufficient to explain the incendiary directive from Nigeria’s one-time defence minister, retired Lieutenant General Theopilus Danjuma, who ordered Nigerians to pick up arms and turn on each other. Of course, he hid the sinister calls behind the façade of asking Nigerians to defend themselves. To make sure the directive is seen as justified, he made sure to demonize the Nigerian Army, the same institution that he once presided over, which implies that whatever the army is today has the benefit of his input.
One wonders why Danjuma did not proffer this his newfound wise counsel to the people of Zaki Biam in 2001 ahead of when, as defence minister, he authorized an industrial scale massacre in the community. He did not at time see the act as ethnic cleansing neither did he chance upon such awareness when he exploited his military background to arm Jukuns against Tivs in what is the foundation of the instability that today plague the region.
The template of arming ethnic militias to decimate the population of rival ethnic nationalities was first introduced by him. His minions have replicated this strategy with deadly consequences that are today threatening the very foundation of the country. What is missing from the TY Danjuma pogrom equation is the abuse of the military to wipe out ethnic rivals as was the case in Zaki Biam. The inability to draw the army into the fray this time around was an injury to those orchestrating the ethnic cleansing while the army’s Operation Ayem Akpatuma (Cat Race) is the equivalent of rubbing salt in the wound because the military was able to mop up illegal arms that would have been used against innocent citizens.
Danjuma’s frustration and anger are therefore understandable within the context of a man who wants to be seen as the messiah of his ethnic stock but the anger is unjustifiable. He is entitled to his ethnic angst but his venting must be within the confines of what is legal and does not threaten the wellbeing of other ethnicities or the security of the country. He must express his displeasure without calling for more blood to be shed or misleading people to think that his position is right
The tragedy is that uninformed cheerleaders are urging TY Danjuma to carry on with the path of destruction he is plotting for the country. Instead of nudging him to realize the error of his position they have instead christened him a hero who spoke the truth when it mattered; yet nothing can be farther from the truth. He only needs to look at how his utterances have been manipulated to suit the agenda of extremists like Harun Elbinawi, who is already marketing Danjuma’s call to violence as a dogma.
These same people will, naturally, testify against Danjuma when the time comes for those behind the ethnically motivated violence in Nigeria to answer for their crimes. The excuse that he was trying to defend the interest of the people of Taraba state will not count at that time because there are legitimate avenues to address such, which TY Danjuma refused to exploit. This refusal to exploit legitimate channels is not unconnected with the reality that he is himself part of the cause of the strife in not just Taraba, but also all the adjourning states.
Some indigenous authorities suggest Danjuma’s show of concern for “Taraba’s plight” is a desperate attempt to make the people accept him as one of them since there are speculations that he is not able to point out a paternal source in that state. This may not hold water because at his age a man should know where he came from so something else, possibly more sinister, is driving the general’s feral disposition. This disposition sank to a level where he is now seeking to discredit the government by suggesting that the army is partial.
Others have questioned if this attack on the army has anything to do with the absence of a military coup even after the party that landed Danuma his wealth has been kicked out of office. Is the recent call for people to bear arms against themselves a coded call for a coup? Only TY Danjuma knows.
What is not in contention is that Nigerians are awake to his shenanigans and definitely want no part in it.
Kolawole PhD contributed this article from Keffi, Nasarawa State.