Former Defence Minister and Chief of Army Staff, Gen. Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma is one distinguished Nigerian whose oratorical vibrancy and intrepid outspokenness marks him out as a courageous man versed in military politics. But sometimes while expressing himself Danjuma betrays the mindset of a man unable to reconcile or come to terms with his moral and intellectual limitations. In the Nigerian politico-military tragedy one doubts if General Danjuma -- much like Babangida, Abacha, Abdulsalami or Obasanjo -- should pass off as a hero.
In an explosive interview with The Guardian newspaper in Lagos last two Sundays ago the reverberation of which has continued across the lenght and breath of Nigeria captioned: "Danjuma: My Role In Arrest And Killing of Aguiyi-Ironsi" Gen. Danjuma drew conclusions that could best de described as controversial. Though what he had to say about General Olusegun Obasanjo like his aborted third term gambit, his failure as president for eight years, his greedy acquisitions and criminal privatisation policy is already in the public domain the Aremu of Ota continues to reap whirlwind having sown vice and vile.
General Danjuma's relationship with his former boss deteriorated more because of economic interests and political differences. The former President was reportedly privy to the confiscation of Danjuma's oil bloc, a blow below the belt which Danjuma took agonizingly. In 1999 when General Abubakar wanted to re-establish democratic governance after the welcome demise of Gen. Abacha Generals Babangida and Danjuma were among those known to have drafted Olusegun Obasanjo, bankrupt and worn out after the Abacha gaol treatment, to succeed Abubakar and ensure the security of their economic interests. That was why Danjuma even threatened to proceed on exile should Obasanjo failed to be elected President.
The best PDP candidate in 1999, former Vice President Dr Alex Ekwueme, was rigged out of the PDP Jos convention. Obasanjo 'betrayed' both IBB and Danjuma in the end. Babangida's preposterous attempt to succeed Obasanjo was dealt a cruel blow by both the civil society groups and Obasanjo himself. And Danjuma fell out in 2003 with OBJ, a man reputed for his primordial vindictiveness and meanness of spirit. As Defense Minister from 1999 to 2003 Danjuma must have had something serious to say about his ex-Commander-in-chief (or Commander-in-thief?). Having worked closely with the Owu Chief in the military General Danjuma is therefore an authority in both military matters and the political tragedy Nigeriana.
For Danjuma, "Right now, we are standing stillÔÇŽ for as long as Aremu of Ota is allowed to control the party and to manipulate things, so long will the standstill continue. We need to dis-couple Aremu from Umaru. We have to return PDP to its original constitution where we don't have a gerontocratic and expired former head of state to sit at the centre of the affairs of the country. And we don't have time." Few months before OBJ quit power (in February precisely) Danjuma had spit fire in Kaduna where he picked holes in the much-vaunted campaign of the then President against corruption by asking powerfully: "If a crusader is deficient in integrity, who will believe his gospel?". Today we all know that Obasanjo is not only deficient in integrity but his corruption crusade was nothing more than a smokescreen to cover up his vast corruptly-acquired empire.
Like Orji Uzor Kalu, former charismatic Governor of Abia State and the BOT Chair of the PPA Party, had advocated General Danjuma wants Olusegun Obasanjo returned to prison from where he was brought forward and imposed on the nation in search of democratic solutions to her dictatorship-imposed problems. It may take time but the atrocities of Obasanjo in power may not be overlooked at all times. A time shall definitely come when the Ota farmer would be made to answer to charges of mindless looting of the state and even alleged incest by a son Gbenga.
In the exclusive explosive interview published by The Guardian on Sunday General Danjuma was in his very best eloquent element lambasting Obasanjo and providing clues as to why and how he became "the most toxic leader" we have had since independence. Beyond Obasanjo however the retired General recounted what he knew about how late General G.T.U Aguiyi-Ironsi, former Head of State, was killed in a counter military coup d'etat by Northern officers in 1966 in Ibadan. His role in the assassination of a giant of a man known also as Ironside has been all along very unclear with some people saying he did pull the trigger that silenced General Ironsi.
Describing the assassinated former Head of State as "a useless, desk-clerk Head of State" General Danjuma went beyond what should be accepted by many in the east who still see General Ironsi as a hero. Mrs. Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi, former First Lady, widow of the murdered Head of State took exception to the Danjuma diatribe and she poured her heart out in an interview she granted The Sun in Umuahia last weekend. Fuming with anger in a sharp bitter reaction at both official government neglect and the Danjuma reckless description of her husband forty years after his gruesome murder which provoked the 3-year pogrom against the Igbos Lady Victoria came down hard denouncing both Danjuma and the federal establishment.
Describing General Danjuma as a "blood-thirsty, wicked Igbo hater" Mrs Aguiyi-Ironsi cursed Danjuma invoking vulture to descend on his corpse and devour same. "Yes, vulture! (Banging the tableÔÇŽ) For making such a wicked statement against my husband in the paper, that is how vulture will describe him. For a man to make that kind of statement like the kind he made in that paper, it's vulture that will describe him. Vulture will eat his corpse", she told Shola Oshunkeye, The Sun reporter who did the interview. And continuing she declared "Yes, I have to curse him. He deserves to be cursed because I am very, very bitter. Johnny has lived all over the world with people and I have never seen anyone make reference to him that way. Vulture will answer him, not me. He will go before his God and answer for this iniquity. Vengeance is for the Lord."
Picking holes in the assertions credited to General Danjuma in The Guardian interview Mrs Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi described Danjuma as "shameless coward and a terrible liar" who waited till the witnesses (like ADC Nwankwo) to the cruel elimination of the ex-Head of State had died before going to the press with his half truths and bare-faced lies.
Lady Victoria Aguiyi-Ironsi's anger is understandable. She remains a high-profile widow with pain in her heart, pain over a loss so painful, the loss of a dear husband and bread-winner so terrible. Trying to remind her of what went wrong four decades ago and the brutal murder of her husband in Ibadan by the Danjumas of this world should be seen as a deliberate ploy by those who see themselves as heros that they are not to re-open old wounds and strike at the fragile and tender heart of an old woman. General Danjuma deserves the curse from the widow if you ask me.
Let me end this piece by quoting the ex-First Lady when asked by the reporter to describe General Danjuma from her vintage position when the latter was only a Major in the Army: "He has been a very sly and cantankerous man all his life. He is a loner. He doesn't move with people. He is a dangerous man. We had always suspected him to be a dangerous human being, going by his strange behaviour and the way he kept to himself most of the time". Is there any other better description?
Sunny Chris Okenwa