The real owners of Nigeria are always backstage in the highest corridors of power. Like puppet masters they decide the fate of the country. Aspiring presidents, Governors and senators must prostrate and pay their respects to their throne if they are interested in holding office.
Most of these high powered politicians have seen it all – Blood, deaths, prison time, war, hate, betrayal and riches. They are Nigerian’s past and present. We know the popular and outspoken ones- IBB, Obasanjo, Tinubu, the late Abubakar Saraki (father to Bukola Saraki) ….but we may not know much about the quiet power brokers like retired Lieutenant General TY Danjuma.
Giving the life TY Danjuma has lived, he means what he says and says what he means
He Fought the Nigerian Civil war commanding the first and third divisions- President Buhari served in his command
He was a lieutenant colonel at the start of the Biafra war. He led the capture of Enugu State from Ojukwu’s Biafra and organised his Battalion to free political prisoners
He still blames Ojukwu for not conceding defeat early enough leading to a whole year of bloodshed.
He has seen and led Coups and counter coup plots – All the Coup plots he supported were successful. He
betrayed Aguyi Ironsi in 1966 and ordered his killings for his role in the death of Ahmadu Bello. In 1975, he gave his blessing to the Coup plot that led to the overthrow of Gowon’s government when he became corrupt and disconnected from the people.
The only coup plot against him failed- he was serving Murtala Mohammed In 1976 as chief of army staff when head of state Murtala Mohammed was executed after only 194 days in office. He resisted the coup and organised the battle against “Dimka” and other coup plotters who were later killed on his order.
TY Danjuma refused an opportunity to be Head of State, rather he handed it over to Olusegun Obasanjo
After the killing of Murtala Mohammed, while TY Danjuma fought to stop the Coup plotters Obasanjo went into hiding. Obsanjo was number two man as chief of staff (supreme quarters) while Danjuma was Chief of staff (Army).
Everyone wanted Danjuma to take over because he was the most trusted and respected senior officer; especially after his role in aborting the coup. He refused to take power rather handing it over to Obasanjo. Shaken by the trauma of Murtala Mohammed’s death Obasanjo almost refused to lead the country but Danjuma insisted he had to do it.
He is described as honest and Honorable; in 1979, he insisted that Obasanjo must hand power back to Civilian rule – Shehu Shagari was the elected president. He kept his word and resigned for the military in 1979 after Shagari’s civilian government emerged into Nigeria
He became a business Mogul
He made millions setting up a shipping and maritime company Nal- Comet group; then during the Abacha regime, he was awarded an oil bloc and he started his oil exploration company Sapetro.
He assisted Obasanjo to return to power in 1999
Ishaya Bamayi (chief of staff under Abacha) shed light on how TY Danjuma assisted Obasanjo to be a civilian president in 1999. After Abacha’s death when it was time for re-election- it was IBB, TY Danjuma and a host of other power figures that paved the way for Obasanjo’s return.
Reports claim that Obasanjo having such faith in Danjuma military prowess agreed to be president if Danjuma would be his minister for defense- as a new civilian president in a country exiting military rule, it was important to keep military in check- Only Danjuma could handle that. The deal was agreed and Danjuma sweetened it by offering 800million to Obasanjo’s campaign.
TY Danjuma as minister for defense was brutal to any sign of unrest and crisis
He ordered the Odi massacre. It started after emerging militants killed 12 policemen including assistant commissioner of police in the Bayelsa state region. Insurgency was growing and insecurity that could destabilize the production of oil. Obasanjo approved the decision of TY Danjuma to attack Odi killing and razing down most of the homes in the community with the exception of a church, a school and a bank
A shot on sight order was given to security officers when unrest broke out in Lagos with groups of people calling themselves Odua republic.
In a separate incident 2000 non-violent massob members were also killed during the Obasanjo regime to stampede the agitation for Biafra at its onset.
Danjuma fell out with Obasanjo in 2003 due to corruption
He referred to Obsanjo as a toxic president that corruptly enriched himself, pilfered money from NNPC, the PTDF accounts and the oil industry. He blamed Obasanjo for failure to repair oil refineries which lead to constant importation of fuel and petrolume products.
He trusted Obasanjo based on their work together fighting Biafra and working For Murtala Mohammed
TY Danjuma retired 10 years ago at 70 from politics and business, but occasionally he lends his time and his voice…
- Berated Jonathan on Boko Haram; On 16 July 2014, in a speech at the Presidential Villa in Abuja; Danjuma “told President Jonathan that Boko Haram insurgents appear to be having the upper hand, as they choose where to strike and capture territory … Danjuma said the battle to win the insurgency war has already taken too long.
- Today, serves as Chairman of the Victims’ Support Fund Committee, he is also facilitating efforts to rebuild the north east
- The TY Danjuma Foundation seeks to alleviate poverty in communities by providing basic amenities, education for children and young adults while also providing free medical care for indigent people of Taraba his home state
- He has received several other national and international awards and titles, as well as honorary doctorate degrees from notable Nigerian and foreign Universities.
Last year he celebrated his 80th birthday last year with his wife, children and grandchildren state Governors, Ooni of Ife, Oba of Lagos, Senators came to prostrate before him. Buhari’s wife read a hand written letter signed by the president wishing him a happy birthday.
Its hard to place TY Dajuma as good or evil, he has a healthy mix of both traits. but what is clear is that he has lived one hell of a life and has little time to make unverified political statements- if he says the armed forces collude with the herdsmen….then that’s what it.