For some time now there is renewed anger in the household of Nigeria's first military head of state, late General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi. The current anger is as a result of an interview granted to a renowned Nigerian daily newspaper by one time Nigerian chief of army staff and defense minister, Rtd. Lt. General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, in which he was alleged to have used rude words to describe the person of the late head of state. Danjuma have not to our knowledge denied the report so far.
Late General Aguiyi-Ironsi was killed in a military coup in july, 1966. Rtd. General Danjuma, then a captain was believed to have masterminded the brutal murder of the late head of state while he was on a state visit to the capital of the then western region, Ibadan.
Ironsi came to power following an unsucessful coup in January, 1966, led by a young officer from the Igbo ethnic stock, late Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. It is on record that the failure of the Nzeogwu coup was as a result of non co-operation of late General Ironsi who was then the head of the Nigerian army and other senior officers, mainly Igbos, with the plotters.
Unfortunately, late Major Nzeogwu's coup,having eliminated prominient politicians mainly in northern Nigeria, without a corresponding casuality figure in the Igbo dominated eastern Nigeria was seen in the north as an Igbo coup, that set the stage for the july coup in which General Ironsi and his host, late Colonel Adekunle Fajuyi and others lost their lifes.
The july 1966 coup set the stage for a thirty-month-civil war in which T.Y. Danjuma featured prominently. At the end of the civil war, the then head of state, Rtd. General Yakubu Gowon, declared that there was "no victor and no vanquished". This declaration set the stage for the three "Rs" of reconstruction, reconciliation and rehabilitation. The three "Rs" later proved to be mere propaganda gimmick.
In july 1975, the administration of General Gowon was toppled in a bloodless coup led by late General Murtala Mohammed, who in turn was killed in a bloody coup in february, 1976. This resulted in the elevation of late General Mohammed's deputy, Rtd. General Olusegun Obasanjo to the position of head of state, Obasanjo then appointed Danjuma as chief of army staff.
Danjuma's coming into national prominence as chief of army staff in 1976, positioned him for historical profiling. The Danjuma persona was better understood when the Obasanjo adminstration handed over power to Mr. Shehu Shagari, a civilian in a very controversial circumstance in 1979 and the nation realised that the former chief of army staff without a wealthy pedigree, manipulated the machinery of government to line his pockets, thus the name T.Y. Danjuma began to feature on boards of blue chip business concerns. Subsequent coups also had the Danjuma imprints.
Rtd. General Danjuma's role in the unfortunate second coming of Olusegun Obasanjo, who rewarded him with the position of defense minister,to the presidency in 1999 and Danjuma's cornering of more than fity percent of crude oil allocations in that era, have not been and will not be forgotten. He started working against that adminisration as soon as he was removed as defense minister and a substantial percentage of his oil allocations revoked.
We have gone to this length to try and profile the Danjuma personality to show that the Rtd. General if not checked by the current occupant of the seat of power can be a risk to national unity.
Recently, the federal Government in a very commendable action paid accrued arrears of pensions to the leader of the civil war on the other side, Rtd. Lt. Colonel Chukwuemeka Odimegwu-Ojukwu and others. This action was seen as a geniune attempt at national reconciliation. We view Danjuma's recent comments on Ironsi as a calculated attempt to truncate this reconciliation. The reason for this is not far fetched, Danjuma and his cohorts had hitherto, benefitted immensely from the exclusionist policies of former administrations.
We urge Rtd. Lt. General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma to shed his "WE AND THEM" mentality and begin to see national issues from the angle of an elder statesman.
We will not also fail to use this medium to urge the household of late General Johnson Thomas Umunnakwe Aguiyi-Ironsi to let all that happened in the july, 1966 coup and other subsequent unfortunate events pass in the interest of national unity.