T.Y. Danjuma: Statesmanship on trial

A bagful of arguments (for and against) had trailed General TY Danjuma damning remarks on Nigeria Army’s operations in some parts of the country. The former Chief of Army Staff and one time Nigeria’s Minister of Defense made the remarks (according to which Nigerian military had been operationally bias!) on Saturday, March 24, 2018 during the convocation ceremony of the Taraba State University.
As a distant critical admirer of the General over the years, I was even further shocked to read TY Danjuma in a university convocation alluding that Somalia would be a child play if the army did not improve on its operations. Of course, we all know that Somalia is not a child play but a forgotten killing field of suicide bombers. Nigeria for whatever reason dares not be a Somalia. Indeed, Nigeria should lead Africa to take Somalia and South Sudan and other war torn zones out of the brink of mutually assured madness.
The divisive, binary reactions to the retired General’s provocative outburst including a call for arms for self-help by any aggrieved citizen further underscores the fact that it’s not too late for the General to rethink the provocative outburst. Nigeria Army in its current form is a product of independence in 1960. The vision of its formation is to keep Nigeria one through fair and just operations. Undoubtedly the Nigerian Army had assiduously performed the duty of preserving the unity and territorial integrity of the country as well maintains peace keeping operations abroad.
The most globally acknowledged and documented being the ECOMOG operations in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Thousands of troops died in the West African peace keeping operations to the eternal glory of the Nigerian Army. Of late the Nigerian Army has also commendably taken on the terrorist gangs, despite the fact the unconventional methods of the insurgents and reported diversions of operations funds by some of oust high commanders. Of course, a critical SWOT analysis of Nigerian army would also reveal some down sides that include the adventure of some rogue elements who through an unnecessary coup in 1966 plunged the nation to a deadly counter coup, a civil war of tragic outcomes and prolonged military rule which by and large underdeveloped Nigeria.
However on the whole, Nigeria Army remains in written vision, a national formation and documented activities a constitutionally defined pan-Nigerian organization. As a young student in Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) in 1977/78, I was at the receiving end of the downside of Nigeria Army.
The military rule of Obasanjo/Yar’Adua/TY Danjuma, had ordered the military troops to illegally invade the campuses and dared to kill some students over the mass protests against arbitrary increase in school fees by the regime. Despite the loss of fellow students to military brutality and our deep sense of grief and outrage, Nigerian students then organized under the auspices of National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) never called for armed resistance or self-help against Nigerian Army. The patriotic instinct in us dictated that Nigerian Army despite its imperfections or even its abuse by the ruling Generals was still a pan-Nigerian organization for our collective defense. In Nigerian students had all in unison hailed Murtala Obasanjo military regime for championing the cause of liberation of Angola and Mozambique and damning the apartheid South African regime then.
Danjuma should act statesmanship and refuse the temptation of giving in to provocation with an unnecessary outburst against the Nigerian Army he several years presided over for better for worse and without which he would not have been known today as a professional Army General. The real test of our faith in Nigeria is not when it serves us well.
The real test of our patriotism is when we are provoked and unjustly maltreated and still remain focus to the task of nation-building. Nigeria cannot afford the pitfalls of a silly “eye-for-an-eye” policy, because 180 million Black people would not just go blind but all Africans would be imperiled. Paul Kagama born 23 October 1957 is currently the President of Rwanda. He was once an army General who commanded the rebel force that ended the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Today he has transformed Ruwanda to one of the fastest growing countries in Africa with a national airline shamelessly patronized by Nigeria which once had a national carrier (Nigeria Airways!) under Obasanjo/TY Danjuma civilian government. Kagama is not envying Somalia despite the injustices done to his Tutsi tribe but building a new “Singapore of Africa”, a developed city state. He is also the current Chairman of the Africa Union.
The likes of TY should move beyond self or group self, work and think Nigerian and African as they once did. However, the discordant voices in the land task President Buhari to wake up to the challenges of building a diverse Republic like Nigeria. President Buhari must take bold steps and initiate non-partisan pan Nigerian engagement on the critical issues of national security. The recent politicization of the kidnapping of poor school girls shows that we need to remind ourselves that if we work separately we will be defeated by terror gangs. Statesmanship is certainly on trial in Nigeria and we dare not lose statesmanship to sectarianism.

By Issa Aremu, mni comradearemu@yahoo.com | Publish Date: Apr 2 2018TY Danjuma

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