Lieutenant General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, former Chief of Army Staff, former minister of defence, better known as TY Danjuma or TY for short, is not an unknown face to Nigerians. Though some see him as controversial, others see him as a blunt man, a man who does not mince words, a man who does not pull punches, a man who suffers no fools. He is one among a very rare crop of Nigerian leaders on whom everyone has an opinion. Never colourless for people to be neutral where they stand with him. It is either you are for him or you are not.
However, whatever one’s views of TY, what cannot be denied him is his patriotism and nationalism. TY fought to keep Nigeria one.
He also leaves no one in doubt that he will do so again. And again. He believes in one Nigeria and all his adult life he has worked to protect the country’s sovereignty, working for its greatness all the time.
To be honest, there is nothing that has not been written or said about him just as there is no recognition that he has not gotten or honour not conferred on him. As of now, he is about the most decorated Nigerian alive.
His accolades have not been chiefly down to his fabulous wealth. No, not at all. After all, there are scores of Nigerians who are richer than him, yet they have not been half as recognised.
For instance, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 2013 organised a special convocation to confer on him an Honourary Doctor of Science. The university’s visitor, then President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, described him as his “hero and mentor”, saying he was “one of the most illustrious sons of our nation”.
For the former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, who chaired the occasion, no single Nigerian has contributed to the development of education in the country more than TY.
The chancellor of the university, the Sultan of Sokoto, HRH Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, in his remarks eulogised the award recipient as “a detribalised Nigerian who has transformed the lives of a significant number of people in the society.”
But Nigeria is now in perilous times that it needs the voice of people like TY Danjuma. Oh, his voice rankles those who do not want the truth, for sure. People blinded by sentiment never accept the truth from blunt, say-it-as-it-is patriots.
In 2018, there was an outcry from mostly northern Muslims over his call on people to “rise and defend themselves against killers”. He made the call on 24 March that year, at the maiden convocation ceremony of Taraba State University in Jalingo, the state capital.
On 2 April in a write-up titled 2019 Election Timetable, TY Danjuma, and Other Matters, I wrote: “This brings me to General TY Danjuma and his call on people to defend themselves.
Unfortunate as it is, especially coming from a personality no less than him, we should look deeply and dispassionately at the comments and situate them within the context of Nigeria’s current state.
“We also, side by side, have to keep in mind that it was Danjuma, once described by President Muhammadu Buhari as a soldier’s soldier, who, at the risk of his life or career, or both, led a northern revolt against General Aguyi Ironsi.
Then the North believed, rightly or wrongly, that he was complicit in the killing of its leaders in the January 1966 coup. But then, the North had not been balkanised by its leaders into Muslim, Christian, Hausa-Fulani, and the rest as it has now been by this crop of opportunistic, parasitic, self-serving, thieving, and greedy so-called leaders.
“He fought to keep Nigeria one. He and the late General Shehu Musa Yar’adua were also there breathing down Obasanjo’s neck to keep faith with the 1979 return to democratic governance. And it was to a Northern Fulani Muslim the baton of governance was handed.
“In both major situations, Danjuma played pivotal roles for the North. He could have scuttled the 1979 handover, but he didn’t.
In all these cases he saw himself as a Nigerian and a Northerner. He is also believed to be one of Buhari’s staunchest financial and moral supporters throughout his various presidential candidacies when latter-day Buharists, who see nothing wrong in him now, were political foot soldiers elsewhere.
“Danjuma contributed at least $10 million in 2014 for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the Boko Haram-ravaged North East and is still contributing hugely to that cause through the Presidential Committee on the North-East Initiative (PCNI) while those now desperate to label him ‘Barawo’ and their paymasters cannot be counted among those who have helped their suffering brothers in the North East in any material way, save, perhaps, in releasing insurgents in the name of “deradicalisation”.
“Yet, his comment is akin to giving up so late in his life of service to fatherland. So, what has happened to Nigeria now to warrant him losing faith in it just like that? The Nigeria he fought for and served for almost all his life? This is what we must ask ourselves and answer dispassionately.
“Since the appearance of Boko Haram in the North East some ten years ago, I ask if there is anyone that, even if once, in the deepest recesses of his mind, has not thought of taking measures for self-defense?
Why did we not fault Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi of Kano when he made the call on people to defend themselves? Was there no time that (some) Northern Muslim elders accused President Goodluck Jonathan of collaborating with the army to kill Northerners and reduce their voting population?
“Right now across our country, are people not feeling a heightened need to arm themselves for self-defence against armed robbers, kidnappers, and bandits? That person had not done so is because they knew it was against the laws of the land but not because they believed they were secure enough. But people are frustrated and many would not dare to voice their frustrations publicly.
The Emir of Anka, in Zamfara State, Alhaji Attahiru Muhammad Ahmad, in tears, just called on the United Nations and the African Union to come to the aid of his people who are being killed like chickens almost daily. Yet Nigeria is a sovereign state.
“Let there be the rule of law and respect for human life. Government and its officials must abide by the laws. No one should be allowed to be above the law. People should not see government as vengeful or regarding courts and their judgments with disdain. People become law-abiding when they see their government and its agents abiding by the laws of the land.
A lot of wrongs have been done. A lot is being done, yet there is no justice for victims, neither are culprits seen to be punished as the law stipulates. We have not addressed a lot of extra-judicial killings and plain murders. We always move on as if we are a country of people with short memories.
“Let there be justice in the land. Let a criminal know he can’t kill, maim and abduct and go scot-free. Let those who should secure the citizens and those who should dispense justice know that they can’t be lax or collude with undesirable elements and go free or remain in their duty posts. Let a victim know that the state will always give him justice fast and in full measure.
“When the above is obtainable in society, definitely people like Citizen Danjuma won’t be making such comments. And if he does, no one will take him seriously.”
Someone who calls on people to defend themselves will know how to advise the government to protect the citizenry. Again, someone who has done more than anyone in the promotion of education will know how to resuscitate the education sector.
It is not while in service but in retirement that you know who is great and who shouldn’t be taken too seriously. He who lives a life of service to humanity in retirement should be the one to be trusted with the welfare of the people. And this is the life of TY Danjuma since retiring from active service in 1979.
Even though on a smaller scale and spread, being a non-governmental organisation, we can see that the TY Danjuma Foundation, established in 2009, has virtually taken over from where the Petroleum Trust Fund stopped.
Now that Boko Haram and its cousins – bandits, kidnappers, and killer herdsmen – have shut down schools, making parents feel it is safer to keep their children at home than send them to school, Nigeria needs more of TY Danjuma as we will subsequently come to see.
Lest I Forget!
Why Are They Not Performing Umrah?
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) told us that if one performs Umrah during the month of Ramadan, it is as if he does Hajj with him. But he who feeds the needy during Ramadan will enter paradise together with him.
Hitherto our big men preferred to attend Hajj with the prophet than enter paradise with him.
This time around they were all forced to stay at home because, in Saudi Arabia, they have scientific ways of knowing those injected with Coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines, and they would turn those not injected back. To avoid being found out, they stayed back. Very embarrassing for the world to know it was just a ruse; their followers were just deceived.