Lt-Gen. Danjuma, purges, probes and economy (1) By Patrick Dele Cole

TY-Danjuma

A MASSIVE man; every inch a soldier, a general who had been involved in the many coups that Nigeria had suffered. There are many people who admire him; he has a reputation before now of no nonsense general.

When radicalized Muslims threatened Christians, he was one of the few northerners who dared to beard that particular lion. An extremely kind man, and there are stories I have heard of his incredible generosity long before the windfall he now currently enjoys.

We have several common family friends who crisscross the whole country; he is amiable, sensible and married to women of unspeakable beauty and intellect.

He, like many good soldiers, keeps to himself and is courteous to many although he does not suffer fools gladly. I write about Lt. General T.Y. Danjuma and especially about his call to probe President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.

I am not holding brief for President Goodluck Ebele. Anybody whose parents would encumber him with the name Goodluck already must have a massive Oedipus complex.

What had gone wrong in that person’s parent’s life for his birth to be a matter of luck? What bad luck have they endured against which they wished to cast a spell around themselves with Goodluck.

In Ibo language Ebele means Mercy, Sorry. The interpretation of these two names must give some Freudian psychoanalyst an interesting introspection.

Were his parents asking God to bring Goodluck to them through this child but also grant them mercy; biko melum ebele (please be sorry for me)? As if all of this is not enough, Mr. Goodluck in choosing a wife chose Patience. Is there any significance in this? Is he to be patient while waiting or enjoying goodluck; or patient for his ancestor’s mercy? So President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has enough and I do not wish to add to his plate.

His epitaph is right there – GoodLuck EBELE. I do not doubt also that the mania for probes has also gripped the nation that we seem to forget that every administration since 1966 had conducted numerous probes; money has been seized and paid into Government purse only for such received money to disappear; homes, property, jewelry etc have been seized.

More probes have reoccurred and money, more property seized, more money paid to Government and proceed remain unaccounted for.

During all these probes and seizures, General Danjuma has been present, in one capacity or the other. In 1975, homes which were seized but were not sold have been returned to their owners.

Thus, the Akintolas, Awolowos, Ahmadu Bellos, Okparas, the Johnsons, the Beros, etc got back their homes. More seizures followed in 1975 – a massive amount and for reasons not clear to the public, some of these probes and seizures post 1975 were done in secret and the General was in the thick of it.

The 1975 coup destroyed the backbone of the most potent development delivery agent – the civil service and again our friend was in it.

Land titles were exchanged with no reference to justice or fair play such that when the groundswell of opposition rose; policy reversals were done in haste and covertly.

One man, one plot: that was the policy of T. Y. Danjuma and his colleagues in the troika – OBJ and Shehu Yar’Adua. History will Judge how well they kept that policy.

Droves of military officers were removed for forgetting to keep to the code of being an officer and a gentleman. The general presided over the demobilization of the Nigerian Army which at the end of the war, in both the Biafran and Nigerian side, was nearly a million.

In 1975, a further purge was called for and the General reduced the army to just 150,000 men and women. Not all the military materials were truly accounted for but this was forgotten.

In 1977, a further reduction took place – removing all officers “politically tainted”, i.e. those he and the troika thought might lead a coup in the future.

They left Abacha and Buhari still in the military in 1979 (in Abuja, I understand President Jonathan lives in such luxury as to scandalize even the most hardened Nigerian cynic.

President Jonathan should leave Abuja and go home to Otueke, Bayelsa. So long as he lives in Abuja he would be harassed and his life would be miserable).

When General T. Y. Danjuma left the army, a string of lucrative jobs came to the General and he gracefully took them. By the time of OBJ’s reincarnation in 1999 the General was back again in Government as Minister of Defence.

The Government, early in that regime, had declared that it would no longer give any civil servant a loan to buy a car; all kinds of imposition were further made on the civil service but the General and his boss General Obasanjo had insisted that every officer from Second Lieutenant to General should be given a car free of charge.

As for probes and moneys returned to Government – EFCC was on the rampage, seizing property. Governors were blackmailed; the EFCC became an arm of Government policy to chase its enemies, etc.

DSP Alamieyesiegha was dragooned and impeached within 72 hours; Bayelsa money flowed freely everywhere to pursue one hopeless political cause after another. I did not hear of any probe when Ebele emerged as the running mate of Yar’Adua.

That aside: the knob of the question is this: how can a man who was given a massive concessionary oil mining and exploration licence, some of which he sold to become so phenomenally wealthy, ask for a probe of any government? Does the ownership of an unbided mining concession not preclude such a person from asking for probes in government?

There should be no more probe until an attempt to put together all previous probes has been made, all the result of all probes collated, how much money was collected, by whom, from whom and what subsequently happened.

Buhari’s epiphany and conversion to democracy is similar and, as cosmic as St. Paul’s on the way to Damascus. Possibly, and so remarkable but existing evidence would suggest that the jury is out on that matter.

Soldiers in military schools study leadership – the only established discipline or institution that actually studies leadership. Not all good soldiers are good political leaders: Few political leaders would have been good soldiers.

Buhari’s first National Economic Council conference with Governors should warm him of what an unruly crowd he has as governors.

The President was clear in his opening remark about what he wanted to achieve and how the National Economy Council would help him: the governors were clear about what they wanted and they won; and now were claiming victory: if a man is irresponsible in small things, he will remain so in large matters. • To be continued tomorrow.

GUARDIAN