With Uche Nnadozie
General TY Danjuma spoke at the weekend in Taraba state. It was during the convocation of the state university. The General is from that state. He was angry and deservedly so. The killings in Taraba has gone on for long. And he could no longer take it. So the expansiveness of the university community provided an ample opportunity to vocalise his thoughts which I’m sure has troubled him for awhile. Be spoke, some will say truth to power. But others will be disappointed. And I am one of them. For a man who rose to prominence through blood and subterfuge, it is telling that the same man at the twilight of his life can utter the words he used in the place he stood.
To begin with, it was a school environment where learning, facts and solution to societal problems form the basis for the gathering. A university is supposed to be those and more. Because we have lost touch with order, people no longer understand that to speak is to know your environment. A place of learning cannot become a place of anarchy. You cannot chose to preach hatred and attempt to rally Nigerians against the military in a citadel of learning. That is an irony. But that is what the good old General did. He called out Nigerians to fight the military. ‘’There is an attempt at ethnic cleansing in the state and of course some rural states in Nigeria’’, he declared. Continuing, Danjuma charged ‘’we must resist it. We must stop it. Every one of us’’.
But the words above are not damning enough. What he said next is as mortifying as someone calling for anarchy. ‘’Our armed forces are not neutral. They collude with bandits to kill people, kill Nigerians. The armed forces guide their movement; they cover them. If you are depending on the armed forces to stop the killings, you will die one by one. I ask everyone of you to be alert and defend your country, defend your territory and defend your state’’. The taciturn General has broken his silence and his words are ominous. Surely, this is not how to be called an ‘’elder statesman’’ but what do I know. The hood does not make a monk, yet in my country it does. Anyone that rises out of mischief to a position of authority suddenly becomes a saviour. The person becomes an untouchable and end up saying and doing things that should keep them in prison forever. Here, we venerate those that should be in condemnation.
Don’t get me wrong. The former military officer just like every Nigerian has his rights of free speech guaranteed in the constitution. The statement he was quoted to have made in Taraba is such that makes him an everyday politician even if he denied being one. He spoke but did not proffer any solution to the crisis going on in Taraba. He merely exacerbated it. Report monitored by me tells a different story about the nature of killings in that state. In fact, killings have been equal on both parts. The parts I mean are the ones that feel seemingly protected by the governor and those that are majorly Fulani. The state is normally governed by ethnic groups other than Fulani. There has always been outstanding issues between the disparate smaller ethnic groups who are mostly Christians and the Fulani pastoralists.
Also there has always been tension between some of these ethnic groups in Taraba and Tivs in Benue. Danjuma has always backed his ethnic group (the Jukun) in Taraba. In fact, the massacres that took place in Benue state while he was minister of Defence during Olusegun Obasanjo’s presidency is still fresh in my mind. So he’s saying that the people of Zaki Biam were massacred because he controlled the levers of power at the time? Or he also used the military which was under his control to trail and kill Tiv and other people? Back to the moment. I do not understand what may have led to the allegation of the conniving military at this time, but everything smells politics. It seems since Obasanjo wrote his damning letter to President Buhari, certain power centres in Nigeria have activated their capacity to oppose using all manner of spins.
The focus of the attacks on Buhari’s administration by these people is simply for him to back off from contesting next year’s election. To this I say, impossible! If we must build this country and its democracy, then we must desist from bullying people to do our bidding. Let the president contest and win or lose, let the people decide. However, the heavy allegations of a colluding military must not escape investigation. The government’s prevarication on matters such as seditious and even treasonous statements must attract government sensor. Also, government has failed to lead when it most matters. It is a mortal sin that the Inspector General of Police still retains his position after the debacle in Benue. It also baffles me that no punishment was meted following the Dapchi kidnappings. The same with all the versions of killings in Taraba. Its sickening. The government does not want to make an example of anyone and that is why people like Danjuma can levy such unguarded allegations.
It must be stated that the Nigerian Armed Forced is made up of almost equal number of persons from all states of the federation. If there be any advantage it will be for the people of the old ‘’middle belt’’ region of which Danjuma is one. How these people that populate the armed forces will be so dumb as to allow anyone or follow orders to protect those who kill their own people qualifies for a movie to be made. And next time Danjuma wants people to take up arms against the military he once served at the zenith, let his kids and grand kids lead the way. Enough!