In 2018, Nigeria appears to be inching towards the apocalypse that Adekunle predicted in 1993 but which the country escaped by the whiskers. The reflections coming from our present prisms are so grim that if urgent remedies are not provided, Nigeria may be buried in the perils of the widespread anger in the land.


Sunday was April 1. A day universally celebrated with practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. But on this fools’ day, there was no monkeying with the state of our nation. Reason? The union is desperately ill. It needs urgent attention. Nigeria is in deep crisis. The country is sitting on a ticking bomb and like Emperor Nero who fiddled while Rome burned, its leaders are toying with the fuse as zero hour nears. Given the prevailing madness in most parts of the land, it’s only a matter of time before the bomb goes off; unless common sense prevails.

Never before have the faultlines widened so dangerously. Never before have the potentials for cataclysm increased so exponentially. With the exception of the coup d’état of January 15, 1966, and the counter-coup of July 29 of the same year, what is currently playing out in the nation mimics the pre-1967 confusion. There is a resurgence of old resentments, and the spiralling of new animosities. Old resentments have blended with the terrorism of Boko Haram and killer cattle herders, as well as the irritation of jihadi groups, to define the next frontline.

It is even more than that. Judging from the depth of present animosities, the brewing war may have multiple frontlines. It is a war that will produce no winner. Only losers. We will all be vanquished. Unless the current dangerous decent in the country is quickly halted, the fatherland that we love so much but which certain individuals have so desperately defiled, will be obliterated. It will become history.

I have not said anything new. Many stakeholders in this contraption called Nigeria have long been expressing similar fears. During one of the interview sessions I had with him while writing his biography in the heat of the battle for the validation of Basorun M.K.O. Abiola’s victory in the June 12, 1993, the late Brigadier General Benjamin Adekunle, alias Black Scorpion, told me that Nigeria was on its death-bed. It was dying from the mortal injuries being inflicted by the military and their civilian collaborators. He fingered some individuals who were allegedly fuelling the cauldron. They included, not surprisingly, some of his own enemies, as well as certain persons that were screaming June 12 during the day and shouting ‘bury June 12 with its winner’ at night. I pray I am able to release the book someday.

In 2018, Nigeria appears to be inching towards the apocalypse that Adekunle predicted in 1993 but which the country escaped by the whiskers. The reflections coming from our present prisms are so grim that if urgent remedies are not provided, Nigeria may be buried in the perils of the widespread anger in the land.

I believe this was the point General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, former chief of staff, was making, upper Saturday, when he asked Nigerians to defend themselves against the ruinous activities of the murderous gangs hell-bent on capturing the country.
While delivering the maiden convocation lecture of the Taraba State University, Jalingo, Danjuma had pointedly accused the military of colluding with the rampaging killers. “Our Armed Forces are not neutral,” he declared. “They collude with the bandits to kill people, kill Nigerians. The Armed Forces guide their movements; they cover them. If you are depending on the Armed Forces to stop the killings, you will all die one by one.

“This ethnic cleansing must stop in Taraba State and other rural states of Nigeria, otherwise, Somalia will be a child’s play. I ask every one of you to be alert and defend your country; defend your territory and defend your state. Defend yourselves because you have no other place to go. God bless our country.”

My submission is that Danjuma was pushed to the podium… As a former Army Chief, Danjuma knows the military like he knows the back of his hand. He knows their capability, and can easily detect when they perform well or below par. As his people’s leader, he also wears the shoe and knows where it pinches. Therefore, he must have done what he did after all other efforts had failed.


Predictably, that declaration by the former army chief-turned businessman has triggered divergent reactions across the country. While some people praised Danjuma for his courage for speaking truth to power on this serious matter, others accused him of inciting the people against the government and, therefore, wanted his neck on the guillotine. Understandably, the Army had been rattled by Danjuma’s allegation of the armed forces’ complicity in the massacres. They issued a strong rebuttal, and have seized every opportunity to hit back at the man from Takum. Like the chief of army staff, Lt. Gen Tukur Buratai, did last Thursday at the burial of 11 soldiers killed in an ambush by some yet-to-be-identified bandits at Birnin Gwari, Kaduna State, on March 20. Buratai was represented at the funeral by Maj. General Muhammad, general officer commanding, GOC, 1 Division.

The presidency has also been worried sick. In a statement, last Saturday, it expressed shock at Danjuma’s declaration, asking: “What country would survive if its citizens rise against the country’s organised, trained and equipped military?…The civil war motto: ‘To keep Nigeria one is a task that must be done’, rings very timely at this time in our nation’s history. We must be careful to avoid the mess that destroyed other African countries like Somalia.”

Precisely the point Danjuma was making! This country has become one huge mess, in terms of security. Murderous gangs are mauling people everywhere. Though “technically defeated” and seriously degraded, Boko Haram members are still bombing Nigerians, abducting girls, women and the vulnerable. Like they did in 2014, when they abducted 276 girls in Chibok, the insurgents strolled into Dapchi, Yobe State, on February 19, this year, and abducted 110 girls. On March 21, they strolled back to return 104 of the girls. Five had died, they claimed, while one still languishes in captivity.

The most intriguing part of the Dapchi saga is that despite the heavy military operations in the North-East, the insurgents were not attacked after dropping the girls. They even had enough time and space to be hugged by jubilant locals, according to reports. Government explained it off saying it agreed to a one-week ceasefire to provide safe passage for the girls. A standard practice in modern warfare. Yet, the more you look at the disappearance and re-appearance of the Dapchi Girls, the more the whole saga looks like a plot in Black Panther.

Then, there is the unending horror of killer cattle herders causing mayhem across the country. For so long, they have been unrelenting in their campaign of blood, and the army has been unable to stop them. The herders dispense death with relish. They satiate their evil appetite with the blood of the innocent. They butcher farmers on their farms and burn their crops. To them, a cow is worth more than 100 human lives.

The besieged people of Benue and Taraba (Plateau and Adamawa, to some extent) will tell the story better. Thousands of them have become refugees in their fatherland. Those who have managed to survive the massacres so far don’t know where to turn for help. Abuja hasn’t provided much succour. Governments of the besieged States are almost at their wits end, looking for solutions. Their traumatised people can only look up to heaven from where their help cometh. And, Danjuma was simply saying: gird your loins, my people. Protect yourselves. Don’t be lame ducks, sitting idly, waiting for the herders’ knives and A.K. 47. Defend yourselves.

Danjuma hasn’t said anything that other leaders have not said, either publicly or privately. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said it in a different way. The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese, Dr. Matthew Hassan Kukah, hit the nail on the head recently at the burial of the Bishop of Kafanchan, Kaduna State, Joseph Bagobiri. All they are saying is: Unless government acts decisively, and stops behaving in ways that could further embolden the murderers, Nigeria may be on a fast train to Somalia or Rwanda. That is no “exploitation of emotional sentiments” as the presidency would have Nigerians believe.

…has anybody seriously investigated the pronouncements of those Fulani groups openly canvassing jihad? Has anybody investigated whether soldiers truly refused to engage the rampaging herders at some point as alleged? Even if the allegations were mere insinuations, somebody ought to have scrupulously investigated them and intimated Nigerians with their findings.


The good thing about the Danjuma saga is that he is not a politician. Neither is he one of the known adversaries of President Buhari. Rather, he is reputed for being one of those influential Nigerians who helped the president to power in 2015. Therefore, it would be illogical, if not irrational, to think this is all about 2019. It is not. Mercifully, the Presidency is not viewing it that way.

So, what is it? It is about a leader’s frustration in the face of imminent annihilation of a people. True, as an elder statesman, Danjuma has, or should have unfettered access to the president. But what does he do if, for instance, overbearing presidential aides block him and he’s unable to alert the president on the scary consequences of the continuing aggression of the blood-mongering cattle herders? How does he express his frustrations about the administration’s slow response to the massacres in his native Taraba, Benue and other Middle Belt States? Climb Aso Rock and barge into the president’s office?

My submission is that Danjuma was pushed to the podium by the combination of the aforementioned factors. As a former Army Chief, Danjuma knows the military like he knows the back of his hand. He knows their capability, and can easily detect when they perform well or below par. As his people’s leader, he also wears the shoe and knows where it pinches. Therefore, he must have done what he did after all other efforts had failed.

Rather than bay for his blood, the authorities should sincerely scrutinise Danjuma’s message and use the good part for the benefit of Nigerians. My father used to say, when you see an old man running wildly on the street in the sweltering sun, if he is not running after something, something is definitely pursuing him. The ravages of the several jihadi groups and other militias threatening Nigeria’s existence are enough to make even angels howl.

Even as recent as upper week, a new Fulani Group, in response to Danjuma, announced plans to mobilise Fulanis around the world to begin a jihad against ‘infidels’ in the Middle Belt and Southern Nigeria. The group boasted of its limitless capacity to war against the so-called enemies of the Fulani nation across the country. You don’t dismiss such threats as idle talk. Not with the quantity of illegal arms constantly imported into the country by shadowy organisations and their criminal collaborators. Not with extensive and porous land borders as ours. Certainly not with the coordination and professionalism the killer cattle herders exhibit any time they strike.

All these are sufficient to give any government interested in the continued existence of Nigeria serious nightmares. But has anybody seriously investigated the pronouncements of those Fulani groups openly canvassing jihad? Has anybody investigated whether soldiers truly refused to engage the rampaging herders at some point as alleged? Even if the allegations were mere insinuations, somebody ought to have scrupulously investigated them and intimated Nigerians with their findings.

Rather, so many things are left hanging, fuelling suspicion of complicity. So many dangerous issues are being allowed to pile, for whatever reason. And the more things are allowed to accumulate, the more resentment they engender. And the closer we move towards the cataclysm that the Black Scorpion predicted in 1993, which Danjuma is also warning against. Now is the time to halt the dangerous drift.

God bless Nigeria.

Shola Oshunkeye is the CEO of Omnimedia Nigeria Limited, and executive director of the non-profit, Sustainable Development and Transparency Foundation.