Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma has become notorious for raising alarms over the state of the country, whenever he attends important public functions. In Ibadan, last week, General Danjuma did not disappoint those who expected his earth-shaking pronouncements on the state of the nation. He left the subject of discussion on the occasion of Tribune newspaper’s book launch at its 70th anniversary and threatened to cause insomnia epidemic with his secret information.
Among other things, Danjuma said: “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 is happening in Nigeria today, you will no longer sleep. If you want details, I will give it to you privately. “We are in a big hole as a nation. And people who put us in this hole have continued today. So, we have to wake up. Only we can save ourselves.”
A few years ago, Danjuma spoke of ethnic cleansing. Members of the armed forces, he said, were in collaboration with terrorists to invade parts of Nigeria including his home state Taraba. And if Nigerians did not fight the invaders, he added, they would be taken one by one. In 2012, he said Nigeria was on fire, as Boko Haram continued its rampage of human and material destruction in the northern part of the country. Earlier in 2008, he said his biography would be a grenade when published. He has yet to publish it; maybe it will be published postmortem.
A very important Nigerian, the retired general is perhaps too big to be questioned by the ever overzealous Department of State Services (DSS), much less arrested. Were he less important or poorer, the story would have been different in this country where, in the words of George Orwell, author of Animal Farm, “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others”.
Certainly, Danjuma should know what happens behind the scenes. He has been a kingmaker since 1966, after he had betrayed his master, Gen. JTU Aguiyi-Ironsi, Nigeria’s first military head of state, and joined other coup plotters in assassinating him. He was a major player in the coup that toppled Gen, Yakubu Gowon in 1975. And, after Murtala Muhammed’s assassination, he remained chief of army staff in the Obasanjo regime until his voluntary retirement in 1979.
Danjuma is perhaps the richest Nigerian today, what with assets scattered in all corners of the world. Forbes List and other rating agencies have not named him the country’s richest man, we believe, because they discover only assets made known to the public. Danjuma has bankrolled many presidential candidates for the past 30 years.
Since he tends to put Nigerians in suspense with his acclaimed privileged information, we are left with mainly guesses. But none is capable of keeping all Nigerians awake. Some may stay awake for one night, but many will still sleep soundly every night. What have they not endured since 1966 when Danjuma and his partners in the army led the country down the valley?
Could he have been privy to the coups of the 1960s? That is no secret; the answer is yes. And the major cataclysm caused by the coups was a 30-month civil war that claimed the lives of at least 2 million innocent Nigerians and destroyed unimaginable items of property. That war has remained a scar on the nation’s conscience. The long years of military rule were the years of the locusts. The jackboots looted the nation dry, crippling the economy. Men who shot their way to power turned billionaires overnight.
Danjuma issues his threats only when he is out of favour with the government of the day. When he was Obasanjo’s minister of defence, from 1999 to 2003, he did not harbor “secrets”, yet the government performed poorly just like every other regime since then.
The leader of IPOB, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, has stated that Danjuma was last week referring to his earlier statement about the man who sits as Nigeria’s president today. Does Danjuma agree with Kanu? He once did openly but he went quiet soon after in 2017. We do not agree with either Kanu or Danjuma that a foreigner rules Nigeria, however.
Or was Danjuma referring to an alleged plot to “Fulanise” the country? President Buhari’s open invitation to all Africans to enter Nigeria with little restriction has jarred many ears, just as RUGA did. Is there any plot known to Danjuma in this regard? Are parts of the nation currently being encircled by bandits bent on taking over people’s lands by force? There have been such allegations on social media. If it were true, and Danjuma decided to keep his mouth shut, then, he would be considered a coward, a betrayer or both.
We believe the issue Danjuma was pointing at is the state of the nation’s economy. Every informed observer knows the economy is crumbling under a heavy debt burden. The passing of new laws to back a new tax regime is a pointer to the desperation of the present government, just as unemployment and inflation have tormented most Nigerians. The World Bank and all other authorities agree that about 70% of Nigerians now lives below the poverty line.
In an ironic sense, however, Danjuma spoke the truth in Ibadan. Most Nigerians have not been sleeping well. Only the likes of Danjuma perhaps sleep without the worries that normally steal sleep from Nigerian eyes.
At age 82, Danjuma should not hope to live two decades longer. What, then, is the use of the information he constantly threatens to reveal? Will it help or hurt the nation that has offered him everything achievable in life?
Danjuma said “we have to wake up” and that “only we can save ourselves”. He should let sleeping dogs lie. Even if all the rumours people have been discussing in private turned out to be accurate, Nigerians must still sleep. Danjuma should help Nigeria to avoid the “big hole” if he could or hold his peace forever.
–-With The Oracle Today