Monday Column By Emmanuel Yawe
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A report in This Day newspaper of 9th December 2020 says that “Lt. General T.Y Danjuma has donated N60 million to the Katsina-Ala Old Boys Association (KAOBA) for the renovation of the hostels of the Government Collage, Katsina-Ala. The General a former Nigerian Minister of Defence was a member of the 1958 set of the school has been at the forefront in uplifting the 100-year- old institution.
“The President of KAOBA, Dr. Haroun Adamu, while leading the board of trustees of the school on a visit to Governor Samuel Ortom in Makurdi, disclosed that Danjuma made the donation to repair part of the century-old institution.”
The General couldn’t have chosen a better person for this assignment. Haroun Adamu is very much accepted all over Tivland. I even thought he was a Tivman from the Iharev clan. They are the Tiv clansmen who bear Hausa names without any form of embarrassment. He speaks the Tiv language fluently. When I finally discovered that he was a Hausa Fulani man, I was surprised.
Recently when in2018 when tension was high between the Tiv and Fulani over clashes between nomadic herders and Tiv farmers, it was difficult for a Fulani man like him to walk about freely in Tivland but he braved it. At the burial of Mr Rov Ikpah, the Public Relations Officer of Katsina Ala Old Boys Association, he showed up at the rather remote village of Ikpah in Mbatyerev District to the surprise of all.
Before Senator JKN Waku died, we often met in the Senators office in Abuja. I have often been amazed not only of his deep knowledge of Tiv language but of its people and politics. There is no major political player in Tiv land of the first and second republic and even the younger generation of today that he does not know deeply. The other day we were discussing Tiv politics in Senator Wakus office and he surprised me with how deeply he knew Chief Godwin Dabo, the controversial Tiv politician and his mother. Haroun Adamu is well connected in Tiv land.
His friend and school mate General TY Danjuma is similarly well connected in Tiv land too. The General himself has confessed that he has Tiv blood bothers. His mother was first married to a Tivman from the Kunav clan in Vandeikya Local Government Area and the marriage was blessed with some children. When the marriage broke up she went on to marry Danjuma, a Jukun or is it Chamba man from Takum. In those days, such things hardly mattered because all these areas were part of what the colonial masters created as Benue Province.
Both gentlemen attended the Benue Provincial Secondary School established in Wannune, Tarka Local Government, then later moved to Katsina Ala in Katsina Ala Local Government. The school has produced many notable Nigerians from JS Tarka, Col Joseph Akaahan, late Chief of Staff Nigerian Army, General Victor Malu, late Chief of Staff Nigerian Army and TY Danjuma himself the most famous of the survivors of the school who held public office.
It is a respected school, except for those who attended Bristow Secondary School next doors in Gboko. In 1958, the year TY Danjuma left Katsina Ala secondary school, the protestant missionaries from North America working around his hometown of Takum were getting ready to establish a Secondary School in the nearby village of Lupwe. They named the school after Mr. William Muckle Bristow, a British missionary bridge builder who also did much to spread education and Christianity in Northern Nigeria. The school was later moved to its present site at Gboko.
By the time some of us attended secondary school, there was already some form of competition-in sports and academics between the two schools. But what we at Bristow hated much about Katsina Ala boys was the lustful looks they cast on our girls. Katsina Ala was a boy’s school while Bristow was mixed. While we handled our girls in a gentle Christian manner as we were brought up to do, the Katsina Ala boys were very rough and rascally. Amazingly the girls we sought to protect were more inclined to the rough boys than gentle ones. This is a story for another day.
Today, those of us who finished from Bristow are proud of the legacy of our school. The structures are still standing there beautifully as they were built in the 60’s. The land that was freely donated by the Mbayion community for the building of the school is still there. Land speculators have been kept away because it is fenced, thanks to the efforts of the old boys of the school. Not so with Government Secondary School Katsina-Ala. The buildings are dilapidated and the school wears a weary decrepit look.
General TY Danjuma has done a great thing with his hefty donation for the renovation of that school. This is not the first time he has done so anyway. I understand earlier donations by him for the same purpose were swallowed by that snake in Benue that swallows public money meant for educational development. The last swallow the snake took in was the huge amount of money meant for Joint Admission Matriculation Board. Now that this hefty donation of sixty million Naira from the General has been taken to the highest office in Benue state, we hope that snake will not find its way there.
But the new face of TY Danjuma must look further. If the general is not embarrassed or sad about the endless Tiv/Jukun wars, some of us clearly are. And I am sure the man who delivered his message to Governor Ortom should also be. This is not the atmosphere in which we were brought up, not even those of us who are much younger than the general. And I am sure the relationship between the Tiv and Jukun was much more amicable in his days as a young man.
If General TY Danjuma has had any misgivings in the past about resolving this crisis, I urge him to seek the advice of his good friend and confidant, Alrasheed Haroun Adamu, the journalist who established the Triumph newspaper in Kano, where for the first time in my itinerant and turbulent career as a reporter, I was promoted to the highly cherished position of Editor. Haroun Adamu I know played an immodest role in resolving or at least calming nerves during the Tiv Fulani crisis. If given the chance he will guide the new TY Danuma correctly. History will pass a very harsh judgment on all living Tiv and Jukun men if we handover this crisis to another generation. The struggle must continue.