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When is Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma wrong?

By Kundila Epemilo  (Guest Writer)


Somehow, I like this guy. Why not? I never had any direct contact or dealings with him. Of course, I have read a couple from writers such as Max Siollun and Lindsay Barrett. I have undoubtedly heard stories, tons of stories; good and bad, real and imagined, practical and conspiratory etc about the General. The mention of the name TY, however, be it from friends or foes, whether on the account of true or false stories, conjures up an image of a man shrouded by an inundating air of valor, authority and mystery. 


In writing this, I do not intend to irk or open old wounds on those who have had dealings with TY and might have different opinions of him. I have, however, learned to form my personal opinions on people and events without recourse to what someone else thinks.


I was having a discussion with a friend when I asked the question; When is TY right? But somehow the question didn't sound right because TY has "never" been right. Or so people tend to make it look. So I reframed the question to "when is TY wrong?" 


I wouldn't say this came out of the blue. It didn't. It, without doubt, came as the result of my interactions with people in Taraba State but more importantly as the result of the recent barrage of attacks on the General by, especially, muslim clerics during the build up to the just concluded general elections. 


When is TY wrong?   


Summarily, and this is an opinion formed basically from personal observations, TY on a whole, led a sacrificial life. Max Sullion in his book, Oil, Politics and Violence: Nigeria's Military coup culture (1966 - 1976), described how young TY, literally, sacrificed his life to arrest the Commander General, Aguiyi Ironsi, who had not taken action on the soldiers that orchestrated the January 15th 1966 coup as dictated by the rules of engagements of the military. 


The coup, termed Nigeria's bloodiest, recorded a number of casualties. But chief among them, not undermining the importance of other lives lost, were the duo of Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and the Premier of Northern Nigeria, Sir Ahmadu Bello.  


Suffice it to say that while TY Danjuma is Christian, both Abubakar Tafawa Balewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello were muslims. But TY did not allow that Muslim/Christian dichotomy becloud his sense of responsibility. He took it upon himself as a national duty to bring to justice those who killed the aforementioned. He could have said "those killed were arna" or say "they are Muslims after all they don't like Christians" and qualify it with "maganin su" and stay in the comfort of his house - and nothing would have happened. But he did not. And If what TY did then was not sacrifice then I do not know what to call it. 


A number of literature abounds too, that told of TY's exploits in the military. One that fascinated me the most was the one that he refused to be Head of State. No one captured it more succinctly than Dan Agbese; "Danjuma is the ONLY Nigerian I know who is not IMPRESSED by power. While others, inkly men from his constituency, are lying and killing to get it and remain in it, he SHUNS the lure of power. POWER WAS HIS FOR THE TAKING when General Murtala Mohammed was killed in the abortive coup of 1976. But Danjuma, despite PRESSURES from his colleagues, REFUSED to step into his shoes. He INSISTED the hierarchy must be respected. His principled stand prevailed." Emphasis is mine. One of the beneficiaries of this gesture is Shehu Musa Yar'adua, a northern muslim, who became Obasanjo's second in command.


So when is TY wrong?


Before our very eyes we have seen how TY has helped in the growth of institutions across Nigeria and more specifically, northern Nigeria. It was not long ago when Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) Zaria, organized a special convocation for TY Danjuma during which he donated a huge sum of money for the development of the school. Standing colossally at the Bayero University Kano - New Campus - is the department of Computer Science and Information Technology built and donated by the gentle General. Suffice it to say that the doors of a Christian becoming Vice Chancellors at these universities is shut. And BUK in particular could not even give a space for a chapel to be built. But TY is still their benefactor.


So when is TY wrong?


It is therefore disheartening when all you hear from these Islamic clerics is nothing more than calling out TY, using denigrating and abusive words on him, on issues they know little or nothing about. They call this elder statesman "shugaban arnan Nigeria." The same arne that sacrificed his life so that muslims like Tafawa Balewa and Sir Ahmadu Bello and other victims of 1966 coup could get justice. 


Are these clerics aware of the things TY did for the North? Are they aware that TY has been Buhari's benefactor since he started contesting elections in 2003? And that he is instrumental to the emergence of Buhari as President? And are they aware Goodluck Jonathan is a Christian at the time this happened? He is not an "Arne" who meddled in politics then?


Since TY is such an Arne, do these clerics have any intention of organizing their unsterile and docile followers who shout "Allahuakbar" or comment "alhamdullahi" to go and demolish the structures this arne built across northern schools? or pay for the sacrifices this arne made for the north? Which son of muslim North has done to the north what TY did? 


Are these clerics aware that TY has a foundation that reaches out through free medical services and other social interventions and that this foundation does not discriminate between Christians, Muslims and traditionalists? So what is this raw hatred coming from?


When is TY wrong? 


A post on Hausa read: "Yanzu Yanzu, an bukachi da TY. Danjuma ya daina saka bakin sa akan al'amuran siyasan Taraba." Translated as; "TY should not involve himself with Taraba politics." They make it sound as if TY is from Guinea Bissau. Such naivety. Such ignorance. Such bileness. Such hate. Nonentities displaying the highest form of crude ignorance on national scale. How can a right thinking person ask an elder statesman of international repute not to get involved in what's happening in his state?


TY has every right to support candidates in Taraba State and elsewhere. Of course, just as he supported Buhari. This does not mean that the candidate he supports must win. We have a number of political parties with candidates. If you don't like the candidate TY is "forcing" on you, you can as well vote for another candidate. This has happened before. TY has in the past supported Obadiah Ando and Ando never made it to the Taraba State Government house.  


It is therefore complete idiocy dripping with all forms of myopic disposition for these uncouth clerics and their likes to turn TY Danjuma to an object of their negative, backward, divisive and inciting messages. I have no more words for you.


When is TY wrong?


When he asks his people to defend themselves against their killers? Yes. It is criminal for TY to say that. But it is okay for the Minister of defense, Magashi, to say "Don't be cowards, defend yourselves." It is equally perfectly normal for Governor Animu Masari and Bala Mohammed to call on their people to buy arms and defend themselves. Different strokes for different folks. 


When is TY wrong?


Tarabans, the TY that we know, is our "go to" person in times of troubles. He has demonstrated this many times over in the past. We have disagreed with him a number of times but he has always come through for the state in many ways. We have rejected some of his nominations in the past. We can disagree without becoming disagreeable. 


So it is good that we stop giving credence to the hate being peddled by divisive elements outside the state that aim to portray this rare blessing in a bad light. Of the 3 executive Governors we've had, only 1 had the "backing" of TY at the time he emerged. So it is preposterous to allude to the idea that Taraba is where it is because of one person.


One thing we can all agree on is, TY Danjuma is a godfather that does not collect returns from his godsons. People succeed or fail based on the content of their intelligence, desire to succeed and working towards succeeding. Therefore, TY can't be blamed for the state of Taraba State today. 


General TY is not right all the time. But he can't be wrong all the time too. If we have thanked him for being a blessing in the past, we must learn to forgive him when he errs. He is human after all. And to be honest, what TY deserves, more than anything else, is "Thank you" from all well meaning Tarabans. 


Kundila Epemilo writes via


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