THURSDAY Column with Mohammed Adamu
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“We prepare for war like ferocious giants, and for peace like retarded pygmies.” –Lester Pearson, Canadian Prime Minister.
In all his checkered life as a soldier, TY Danjuma was known more for his ‘fist’ they said, than he was for his verbal ‘fury’. He would sooner strike at the source of his discombobulation than he would deploy his mouth vainly to rile. He had sooner struck, in Ibadan -to exact a bloody vengeance on behalf of the North- than he had merely bewailed the gruesomeness of that ethno-regionally lopsided ‘Igbo coup’. And for which not only the North, but the entire nation remains today, eternally indebted. What with the reward of an ‘oil well’, now a personal family heirloom that may abide with the Danjumas forever! And what more can one ask for from one’s country? Or could Nigeria have been any more favorable to its own than it has to TY: a prestigious lifetime career in the army, an ‘oil well’ to cushion the vicissitude of retirement and a whole State, Taraba, created as a political ‘chess board’ for the titillation of his democratic fancy!
By the way even as morose-looking as many say he has aged to be, TY seems always more audibly communicable merely by the darting of his quizzical eye balls than even by the motion of his often contortedly-repugnant bi-labials. So that even when he does speak, -if he must speak that is- Danjuma’s character as an unenthusiastic interlocutor is evidenced all the more by the contortion of those unwilling lips and by the grudging cooperation of his bumped-up mandibles, to let his words emigrate. And baring his most recent umbrage TY has still managed, even in retirement, to maintain that degree of intense taciturnity you’d think he is a ‘thinker’. Especially now that the man has marinated both in age and in experience. Such that just before his recent outrage, and in spite of the many misgivings about his neutrality, TY was still easily one of our very few revered sages –and especially one with the ‘wisdom tooth’ in both military esprit-de-corps and democratic esprit-de-convenance.
By the way, although the oath he must have lodged in heaven when he joined the army, was to kill only for the fatherland, TY’s baptism of fire was an imperative first to kill for a section of it –for the North. His own North. And yes, he may have killed, thereafter, for the beatification of the fatherland (in that terribly bloody war to ‘Go on with one Nigeria’), but that duty came only a distant second after the fulfillment of a purely sectional end. And for which, it must be said, the so called ‘core North’ may have been ungratefully-forgetful. Or should we say forgetfully-ungrateful? Either way, it is safe to say that Danjuma had risen, first from being a patriot of ‘a section of the whole’ to being ‘a patriot of the whole’ itself, and now you wonder, at the twilight of his time, when the ovation should be at its loudest- the man is angling to desperately to end it merely as a patriot of a tribal enclave. Why, I have asked, is TY courting a tomb with an un-waxened epitaph?
Descending from a national ‘hero’ to an ethnic champion is exactly what TY Danjuma has, at last, opted to do. And by so doing also, helping to debunk –by himself- the very myth of a patriot and the legend of an honorable gentleman, virtues that, all his checkered military and post military life, had ably presaged or foreshadowed his personality. The mystic of his silence alone had enchanted his friends and unnerved his enemies. But not anymore. Or so it seems. Even the fool, when he holds his tongue, they say, is considered wise. But what happens when the ‘wise’ let their tongues loose the way that TY did? Inciting the people to arm and sounding the alarum for ethno-religious war in a country, ironically that has been the kindest mostly to his own kind, even if merely for the most gruesome of deeds that they had done.
Advantage, Shakespeare said, is a better soldier than rashness. And so weather TY Danjuma was ‘rash’ or cheaply ‘advantageous’ when he made those incendiary remarks instigating the people to mutiny rather than inviting them to parley, will depend on what side of the divide one is. Yet none will deny –as one of Israel’s Prime Ministers, Golda Meir would say- that “There’s no difference between one’s killing and making decisions that will send others to kill. It’s exactly the same thing, or even worse.”
And by the way, by being ready to kill for his people, or to incite them to kill for the tribe, at least TY has proved himself more –or is it less- ethno-religiously patriotic than even his once-adversarial Tiv neighbor, Benue’s Ortom who is now known to make a political litany only of his readiness to die, not to kill, for his people. In truth, if any people are in danger of being ethnically ‘cleansed’, they have a right to self defense; especially if no one will defend them. Or worse even if those who are constitutionally obligated to defend them, collude with the ‘aggressors’, as TY alleged, to ‘cleanse’ them.
But the man has made allegations about ethnic cleansing and about the Nigerian army aiding and abetting ethnic cleansing without elaboration –as to ‘who is ‘ethnically cleansing who?’, or ‘who is being ‘ethnically cleansed’ -bywho?’ And why? Or how, one may ask, can a multi-ethnic, multi-religious and cross-cultural national army collude with one or some ethnic group(s) against another or others and we get to hear it only from TY and not from the rank-and-file? Like we heard from them under Jonathan when they were made to face Boko Haram with inferior weapons. So many unanswered questions. But -as they say- ‘A clever liar does not go into details’.
Besides, if you want to get people behind you they say, all you need to do is invent a common enemy. Those prejudiced of mind are always there to believe you. For as they say ‘to the jaundiced all things are yellow’. Just like to mischief makers in Nigeria, every ‘killer’ has to be ‘Fulani’ or a ‘herdsman’ or a ‘Fulani-herdsman’. They will not allow even ‘facts’ to get in the way of their ‘good story’ –the tantalizing story of the invisibly-invincible, murderous, all-conquering, AK 47-wielding Fulani herdsmen with a jihadist agenda to kill those they plan to Islamize, or rather to Islamize those that they have planned to kill.
Man they say is not a product of logic but a creature of emotion. To believe that the army is complicit in an agenda by a government headed by a Fulani to ‘cleanse’ other ethnic groups is first to believe that the army is made up only of Muslims and or of Hausas alone, or Hausa-Fulanis. Which is impossible. Or if not so then, it is to believe that all other Christians and or non Hausa-Fulanis in the army are willfully complicit in that agenda by a Muslim Hausa-Fulani President to cleanse their own kind or others of their own kind.
I don’t get it!