By Gambo Dori
As expected my last week’s piece on what I thought of General T Y Danjuma’ speech at Taraba University met with a deluge of responses from readers. It is only fair that I allow some of the responses to be seen. Please read on:
Jatau: Your intervention this morning is disappointing. You just join a group of Nigerians deliberately misreading TY’s intervention. You are from Borno and should know what self-defence means. Civilian JTF helped to dislodge insurgents from Maiduguri, a task security services couldn’t achieve. What is this called? Not self-defence? Hunters in the Northeast have played a role in containing Boko Haram.
This is not self-defence? Please don’t join the grand narrative of some groups that feel a minority in Nigeria, however highly placed, should defer to all the shenanigans of the majority. Except you are mischievous or not following the news well, you would have heard or read calls for self-defence from Emirs of Kano and Birnin Gwari. What is the difference with what TY is saying?
Ayua Sule: What a piece! I lack the words to describe your presentation. I don’t know whether you commented on Obasanjo’s letter to Buhari. The revered Generals seem in my opinion to be dwindling in wisdom, owing to their recent outbursts. It is right time they are helped to preserve the good old records they attained.
Paul Badung: Please, allow the General some peace. He is only advising people to defend themselves against those who feel they have birth right to take arms and attack innocent Nigerians. That is the truth of the statement.
Buhari Hassan: You and I are among the starry-eyed generation of university students who savoured the dizzying 200 action-packed days of the late General Murtala Mohammed’s regime and those courageous pillars of the Government – T Y Danjuma and Obasanjo. You have rightly exposed those qualities that endeared Danjuma to us as students and young adults.
But along the line after his retirement and successful business forays he was ensnared by some vocal and often despicable so called academic/political propagates and retreated into his cocoon loudly grumbling about being ignored by the northern establishment. A current serving Minister and courageous newspaper columnist who was a personal ally of T Y, was instrumental in brokering an amicable rapprochement with him and the Northern Elders. After the tenure of late S B Awoniyi, T Y was offered chairmanship of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) which he declined. With his recent Rwandan type of religious and ethnic cleansing outburst one begins to understand the initial misgivings by the elders towards him. A very sad narrative when individuals descend from such lofty heights to parochial pursuits. C’est la vie.
Ori Martins: I read your beautiful prose in today’s Vanguard on Danjuma. The point is, all the while, T Y has been nationalistic because he was not affected. Now he is hit and so he is saying the truth and the truth is bitter. It was the same bitter truth that Ojukwu proclaimed in 1967 and T Y and co labelled him a rebel. This is the fact I expected you to flash. Of course, you failed to do so. The question is: why should we mark the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) as a terrorist group while PMB says we should accommodate the murderous herdsmen? The answer is self-defence as directed by T Y.
Haruna Ibrahim: I just finished your beautiful write-up and would like to commend your effort for saying the truth. I hope and pray that the statement General Danjuma made at the Taraba State University’s convocation would not be his last opportunity to express himself, so that he can have another chance to correct the wrong impression many Nigerians have on him based on his convocation speech.
The stories of ethnic militia from Mambila killing herdsmen in large numbers and their cows had made the rounds. Danjuma never made efforts as an elder statesman in Nigeria to intervene/mediate between warring communities for peace to return. His statement now shows that he has taken sides and is urging his ethnic group to take up arms and continue killing defenceless people. My advice to General Danjuma is that he made a name as a respected army General and also in Government he should please try to maintain that respect up to the end of his life as respect is earned not conferred.
Dr Lawal Shehu: You were wondering, no, horrified by the statement credited to General Danjuma. But was he not truly overrated? Statesmen are those who rise above pettiness in reacting to issues and generally keep their heads when others are losing theirs.
This is a man who had unlimited access to the President, who could have invited the Chief of Army Staff, or even the Chief of Defence Staff and bared his mind to them. But he chose to play the easy ethnic card. To me, it is such attitude by the ethnic elites that has kept the mutual suspicion and hatred going all these years. If the General had merited all the eulogies by the media, he could have single-handedly resolved the ethnic crises in Taraba State by initiating dialogue with the warring groups. Who can now swear that the General was not part of the funders of his ethnic militia?
Yes, we need heroes, but NOT people who could not rise above ethnic biases.
By the way, where were the Northern media when 800 bodies of the herders were being buried in Taraba State? Had they reported and documented the incident the wind would have been taken off the sail of small-minded people, like, unfortunately, the General. I’m disappointed at Danjuma and I think he should learn lessons on nationalism from another elder, General Yakubu Gowon.
John Iorkumbur: Your column left me with utter confusion. The narration is totally one-sided, not asking the question of what could make a respected General speak that way. All write-ups on this matter are one-side, why? Remember that even a goat bites when pushed to the wall.
Garba Danladi: I doubt it if T Y’s call for ‘self-defence’ has anything to do with herdsmen/farmers killings in Taraba. The same with Obasanjo’s call for PMB not to contest again is not because he underperformed. Methinks something that has to do with their interests might have come under government scrutiny. The only elder statesman standing now is General Yakubu Gowon, and I pray he remains standing.
James Horsfall: The Nigerian Army commanded by General Danjuma is different from what we have today. Religion has crept into the rank and file of Nigerian Military. As a retired General, he is in a better position to point it out. It is now left for the military to address it, if they are professional as claimed.
Mohammed Bello: And unfortunately T Y has reduced his pre-eminence which he wielded effortlessly in the past decades to an ethnic champion. I almost wept to an unbelievable level to find words suitable for consolation. But I believe that life is unpredictable. And as they say, until one stops breathing, incredible situations will continue to be at play. I hope the counter reactions could be sobering at least.
A’isha M Yahya: I say well done for undoing the General’s inciting speech in a civilized way.