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Author Name: Sam Nda Isaiah
Number of articles: 20
Recent events in the country necessitate that I repeat this piece, first published on November 3, 2003... (0) Comment


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General T.Y. Danjuma’s Mea Culpa
Author: Sam Nda Isaiah | March 12, 2007



"We must be humble enough to admit that only God knows the hidden thoughts and character of man..."Historians will be grateful to him because he has made their job simpler. General T.Y. Danjuma’s speech penultimate Saturday at the Conference of Northern Christian Elders in Kaduna has given the verdict on General Olusegun Obasanjo. It was actually delivered like a confidential report written on someone by his boss. There is no one in the world that is more qualified to write Obasanjo’s confidential report. In a very real sense, if Obasanjo has any godfather at all, it is General Danjuma. It all started on February 13, 1975. The soldier that was sent by Lt. Col. Bukar Dimka to assassinate General Danjuma, the then chief of army staff, saluted him instead. The head of state, General Murtala Mohammed had been killed a few minutes earlier and Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, the chief of staff supreme headquarters and the No. 2 man in government had gone into hiding. He was so frightened that when he called M.D. Yusuf, the inspector-general of police later in the day from his hole, he refused to disclose his location. Danjuma was therefore the only one left on that fateful day to crush the coupists. After successfully doing that with the help of officers like Col. Ibrahim Babangida, as he then was, Obasanjo came out of his hole with his tail between his legs with only one thing in mind. He had decided to voluntarily quit the army. The Nigerian military was for tough men and he had just realised he was not man enough to belong. Meanwhile, while the coup was going on, Joe Garba, a colonel, and then federal commissioner of external affairs ran to Gen. Danjuma and asked him to take over as head of state immediately, since it was clear that Murtala had been killed. Garba, who belonged to the core group of officers that led the coup that overthrew General Yakubu Gowon six months earlier and ushered in the trio of Murtala, Obasanjo and Danjuma, was probably speaking on behalf of his colleagues, as an Obasanjo presidency was the last thing they had hoped for when they ousted General Gowon. Danjuma refused flatly and told Garba there and then that they were going to follow hierarchy. If the head of state had been killed, then the number two in the perking order must take over. But this number two was too cowardly and too frightened to be of much use to the nation. By the evening of that day, northern officers like Colonel Muhammadu Buhari, Ibrahim Babangida, Group Captain Mukhtar Mohammed and others had regrouped and insisted that Gen. Danjuma take over. Danjuma still would have none of that. By the time Obasanjo resurfaced, the first thing he said was that Danjuma should take over, as he would be handing over his retirement letter the following day. Yes, Obasanjo himself offered the job to Danjuma. He had also informed his family members that he would be retiring from the service the following day and they were pleased to hear that. But it was AVM John Yisa Doko who had the strongest case for the Danjuma rulership. AVM Doko was the chief of air staff and as a service chief, his voice was quite weighty in the schemes of the supreme military council. The airforce chief said the Danjuma rulership was the surest guarantee for stability in the country. And for good measure, he added that it would be difficult to guarantee the loyalty of the majority of the arms-bearing soldiers to an Obasanjo rulership. In spite of the enormity of the pressure, which even bordered on blackmail, Danjuma insisted on Obasanjo taking over because he thought that was the right thing to do. In fact, he added, that because of the religious sensibilities of the country (especially as some people had started giving religious colouration to the failed coup), he would even remain number three and look for a suitable Hausa/Fulani Muslim to fill the number two position. That was how Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, a much more junior officer became the chief of staff supreme headquarters and political number two. No wonder Adamu Adamu writing in his column in Daily Trust last Friday said: "By common consent, Gen. Danjuma is the finest officer produced by the Nigerian army and one of the best and most stable personalities produced by the Nigerian public service." It is important to recall these in order to appreciate the extent of kinship between Obasanjo and Danjuma. Obasanjo only accepted to be head of state after Danjuma had assured him that he would hold the military in check for him. And that was what Danjuma did for Obasanjo between February 14, 1976 and October 1, 1979. Then came 1998. General Abacha had just conveniently dropped dead while Obasanjo was serving his much deserved jail term for attempting to wage war on the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Abacha was merciful not to have applied the full weight of the law that Obasanjo himself had signed into effect in 1976 when he was head of state. Obasanjo had in 1995 committed the same offence as J.D. Gomwalk did in 1976. Both were privy to a plot to overthrow the government and didn’t report. The only difference was that as head of state, Obasanjo made his own law retroactive. Danjuma was one of those whose intervention with Abacha saved Obasanjo and others from the firing squad. While Obasanjo was in prison, Danjuma was one of the few who visited the former head of state from time to time and also helped in paying the school fees of some of his numerous children. At that time, Obasanjo farms had virtually collapsed and some of his family members were already selling his property because they thought it had all ended for the former head of state. A day after General Abdulsalami Abubakar took over power, he released Obasanjo and others from prison. Danjuma immediately sent enough money to him to clean up. Danjuma’s money was the money he received out of prison. Within a few days, General Danjuma placed a call to his friend, Ahmed Joda, a retired federal permanent secretary and broached the idea of the need to repackage Obasanjo for the presidency of the nation especially as talks of power shift to the south had filled the air. Between then and February, the following year when Obasanjo was finally elected president, Danjuma had spent close to a billion naira of his own money. He so much believed in the rightness of what he was doing that at a stage he threatened to go on exile if for any reason Obasanjo did not become president. When he was told that General Ishaya Bamaiyi, the then chief of army staff was opposed to the Obasanjo ticket, he walked straight up to him to enquire why. Bamaiyi thought it didn’t make sense for the same government that had jailed Obasanjo to hand over power to him. Danjuma then brokered a meeting between Bamaiyi and Obasanjo where Obasanjo promised Bamaiyi that "bygones shall be bygones". Obasanjo eventually took over on May 29, 1999. And Danjuma was appointed defence minister. A few weeks later, Bamaiyi was arrested. He is still in detention. It didn’t take long before Danjuma knew that the Obasanjo he had helped to power was diametrically different from the one he knew. The Obasanjo he was now confronted with was a counterfeit. One of Danjuma’s first acts in office as defence minister was to get his permanent secretary, Julius Makanjuola arrested on grounds of corruption. He took the anti-corruption war to heart. He didn’t know Obasanjo was only playing to the gallery. By October of the same year (1999), barely four months after his appointment, Danjuma had handed over his letter of resignation. But the intense pressure from service chiefs and other top members of the government forced him to rescind his decision. He eventually left at the end of Obasanjo’s first term. \ Danjuma might have been aware that many people have been blaming him for foisting Obasanjo on the nation. To that, he has given a very acceptable alibi in his message to the Northern Christian Elders. He confessed the dilemma of trying to be a kingmaker. You may mean well as a kingmaker, but the king may eventually become king kong. He didn’t mention Obasanjo’s name anywhere in the speech but it is clear who the missiles were meant for. "If a crusader is deficient in integrity, who will believe the gospel?" Who doesn’t know who this deficient crusader is? "The wheel of our national progress that was steered from the edge of chaos is regrettably being pushed back to the precipice". Are we not back to the precipice? "It could also be said that the highest form of corruption in a democracy is electoral fraud." Is Obasanjo not the greatest electorate fraudster in the nation’s history? This is a man who actually forged the electoral law in order to give himself a head start in 2003. And the forgery and the rigging continue. But the most touching portion of that seminal speech – a speech that should be laminated and kept as part of our valuable collections – is the one that exculpates us all of the collective guilt of bringing Obasanjo upon ourselves. "We must be humble enough to admit that only God knows the hidden thoughts and character of man. Only God knows the future. The danger of trying to be a kingmaker is that while you may sincerely think that your preferred candidate will be the best for the society, the candidate as king may become king kong, trying to destroy not only the kingmakers but also the larger society. Some of the champions around whom we built much hope for the nation have turned out to be fake intellectuals, fake statesmen, fake men of God and even fake friends." May God give us more leaders and more genuine statesmen like General Danjuma, and may He deliver us from fake statesmen, fake friends and fake born-again Christians! E A R S H O T Will Elections Hold? This has become the question everybody has been asking lately. INEC has broken every provision in the constitution and Electoral Act so much so that all that is required to stop the coming elections now is someone simply walking into any court to get an injunction on grounds of the breaches. But even if that happens, Obasanjo’s contract with Nigerians still ends Tuesday, 10am on May 29. He cannot benefit from the confusion that he has masterminded to get a tenure elongation. It is like a boy who killed both his parents, and pleaded for mercy on the grounds that he is an orphan.

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tony are    london, UK    April 14, 2008
I was not impressed by this author. It is good to spend time to write article with conviction rather than ethnic hatred. The author wrote as if he was their back in history, when events were unfolding. As we know, facts are twisted just like Babginda claiming credit for storming Radio station but one Major Igbokwe was actually responsible.

The Danjuma he was praising only turn anti-Obasanjo when his oil blocks was reduced to one. If he is tough general, where was he when Abacha was ruining the country.

Love or hate Obasanjo, he still the best President Nigeria ever had, the author should just push himself above ethnic or regional hatred he had. The truth is out there, you can not deny it.
bature musa ibrahim    kaduna, nigera    March 20, 2007
Most of the events that shape our berloved country are known to most of us, but explicit details like this is what we recieve later in life due to misunderstanding, misjudgement, and mis-selection and fall-outs.If king makers wil clear the notion that it is better to be a king maker than be the king,then it will be better for every body.
We should try and make our faith in GOD more practical and allow our leaders to be chosen freely instead of a so-called God-father's influence.
Day in day out, Nigerians learn thier lessons but we still have not grab the bull by the horns by shaping oyr destiny as a nation together.
I pray sincerely that the lessons learnt in the last eight years will help us chart a way foward.
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