Nigeria’s former army chief and defense minister, Gen. Theophilus Danjuma has again warned of a dire future ahead of Nigeria – Africa’s most populous country, saying the country is in a “big hole as a nation” but ominously declined to provide details in public.
The retired general spoke on Friday 21 December at a book lunch, “70 Years of Progressive Journalism: The Story of the Nigerian Tribune” and the presentation of Tribune’s Platinum Awards, held at the University of Ibadan, in the capital city of Oyo State.
He decried that “everybody seems to have lost their voice, scared, and people appear not to care about what is happening”.
He disquieted the hall when he said, “If I tell you what I know that is happening in Nigeria today, you will no longer sleep….only we can save ourselves from ourselves,” claiming further that the southwestern part of Nigeria had “fifth columnists” who were “not helping matters“.
The event was parked with dignitaries mostly from southwestern Nigeria, among whom were top leadership of Afenifere – the Yoruba apex sociopolitical group, traditional rulers such as the Alaafin of Oyo, Oba Lamidi Adeyemi among others.
Chief Ayo Adebanjo, a leader of Afenifere had earlier set the stage for Gen. Danjuma when he complained that the southwest had been “submerged”. Adebanjo alleged that President Buhari – a Fulani from the core northern part of the country “wants to dominate” the Yorubas. “I don’t mince words about it. There’s tyranny in the country. There’s anarchy.”.
Danjuma’s outburst is not new. In 2017, he had accused the Nigerian Army of colluding with Fulani Herdsmen in an “ethnic cleansing” of his Taraba State and warning his people then to “rise to protect yourselves from these people, if you depend on the Armed Forces to protect you, you will all die”. The army refuted the allegation.
A Christian from Junkun tribe of middle-belt Nigeria and Chair of Nigeria’s Christian Elders Forum, Gen Danjuma featured prominently during the era of military rule and some accounts finger him as the mastermind of the overthrow and perhaps assassination of Nigeria’s first military head of state, Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi – an Igbo from the south. The July 1966 coup eventually spiraled into a civil war which had the effect of enthroning the Islamic core north as arguably the preeminent ruling class of Nigeria.
Several persons reacted to Danjuma’s Friday warning. A fiery critic of Buhari’s administration and opposition chieftain, Chief Fani Kayode in a Facebook post titled, “A Word for General Danjuma”, said the country was “already a vassal state being run by crude barbarians” and with “nothing more to lose,” he urged Danjuma to “talk now before it is too late or forever hold his peace.” In a later tweet, Kayode wondered if the secret Danjuma was keeping was the well-known conspiracy theory championed by the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (a self-determination advocates), that President Buhari has passed on and has since been replaced by a body double who is ruling Nigeria.
Civil rights activist and Kaduna ex-Senator Shehu Sani tweeted, “Baba Gen TY (Danjuma), spill the arduous, putrid beans so that the snoring slumberland ‘will be awakened’ by the insomnia of its truth and of its reality”.
Only on Tuesday 12 December, Mr. Buhari surprised when he announced during the Aswan Forum for Sustainable Peace and Development in Africa, which took place in Egypt, a new policy of visa-on-arrival to Africa citizens coming to Nigeria. Critics say it is a ploy to instigate the influx of his stateless Fulani tribesmen in the Sahel into the country with the long term goal of diluting the demographics of Nigeria’s various indigenous communities and eventual conquest.