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All hail Jarmai Zazzau!

For those not old enough to know, a citation written by Bayero University, Kano on the conferment of a doctorate degree on him, to which…

For those not old enough to know, a citation written by Bayero University, Kano on the conferment of a doctorate degree on him, to which my attention was drawn yesterday, might be of help.

After a rendition of his extensive military training in Nigeria, the UK and USA, and his seeing service in the Congo and Tanzania; and his legendary exploits in Nigeria’s civil war, BUK looked at the honours he had collected. With the permission of the vice chancellor, I quote excerpts:
 “Chancellor, Sir, our candidate today has been severally decorated.  He has been conferred with honorary doctorate degrees from many universities at home and abroad. He is a recipient of several national and international honours from several countries. In 1990 he was conferred with the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in business administration, honoris causa, by the University of Liberia in Monrovia.
“In 1997 he received the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, from Benue State University, Makurdi, and another Doctor of Letters, honoris causa, from Nasarawa State University, Lafia in 2006.  In 2008 he received the degree of Doctor of Science, honoris causa, from the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna; and in 2010 he was conferred with the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, by Ajayi Crowther University, Oyo.
“Danjuma is the proud recipient of distinguished national honours from the Republic of Somalia, Benin Republic, from Poland and France.  He was decorated with Nigeria’s second-highest national honour of the Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger, GCON, more than 30 years ago.
“And as the countdown to democracy commenced in earnest in 1998, General Danjuma came to play a most pivotal role, becoming the patron-saint of the entire democratic enterprise.  He bankrolled the presidential election, lent his respectability and influence to the regime and gave it the necessary muscle it needed to carry out the unpleasant and difficult measures required to establish and guarantee sustainable democracy.
“In addition, in 1999 he accepted to serve as the chairman of the Presidential Policy Advisory Committee, the think tank that drew up a comprehensive development policy blue print for the nation.  Between 1999 and 2003, General Danjuma served as defence minister; and he refused to reconsider his decision to quit Obasanjo’s cabinet after its first term in office.
“In 2010, as Nigeria drifted towards another dangerous crossroads, General Danjuma was dragged out of semi-retirement to head a Presidential Advisory Council, which must now be credited with stabilizing the polity and saving the situation. As he did in 1966, and in 1976, and in 1999, General Danjuma again played his part in 2010, and had continued to play his role as a preserver of national unity and saviour of Nigeria’s Federal spirit.
“General Danjuma’s struggle for good governance and his determination to realize it were such that even when he wholeheartedly went into politics, it was not because he wanted anything for himself; it was because he wanted to bring to power someone he believed the nation needed. And it would remain arguable whether Chief Olusegun Obasanjo would have won the election in 1999 without Danjuma’s open, almost messianic support; or whether the regime would have lasted to the end of its first term without his continuing support, his adroit handling of the military, and especially, the reassurance his presence in the government as defence minister has given to the nation’s restive military then. While in office, Gen TY Danjuma sought to curb the politicization of the military, and was a firm supporter of democracy and the rule of law and was also widely known to have opposed President Obasanjo’s attempts in 2006 to stay in office beyond the constitutional two consecutive terms.
“General Danjuma is a man of complete and total Christianity, a strong believer in God and in the promotion of moral values and the doing of good to man.  He is a liberal and tireless and superlative giver to deserving causes. For more than two decades General Danjuma has been the Grand Patron, chief benefactor and almost sole giver to the Mission to Save the Hopeless, MITOSATH, an NGO dedicated to combating river blindness and other neglected debilitating tropical diseases. And through the TY Danjuma Foundation, philanthropy dedicated to the provision of free primary health care, education and poverty alleviation, Danjuma surpassed every giver in the land: he recently gave away 15 billion naira in charity to the poor.
“Chancellor, Sir, ladies and gentlemen, here once again before you is this man who has distinguished himself in everything he has attempted; an officer who has discharged his duty of patriotism and courage; a brother who is to every poor person in the nation a keeper; a religious person who has paid the dues of ecumenical fellowship; and a statesman of whom honour is today in hot pursuit.
“Here, Chancellor Sir, standing before you is an unusual Nigerian with an array of unusual achievements—a man who, as a result, has brought honour to his name, honour to his country and honour to all those who have associated with him. He is the recipient of every type of honour this nation has bestowed on its best sons and daughters. He was the definitive role model for all the legion of soldiers of Northern origin who had paid their dues to this nation; and a leader par excellence to all of Nigeria’s fighting men, many of whom have laid down their lives so that we shall live ours in peace.
“Here then he is: this intrepid fighter for and preserver of national unity; this self-sacrificing saviour of Nigeria’s Federal spirit and a living martyr to its cause; this indefatigable struggler for accountability and good governance with might and with main, with his time and with his resources; this acclaimed patron of learning and a pillar of support to numerous educational causes; this greatest philanthropist on the African continent and the nation’s greatest and most effective poverty alleviator.
“Here is a man who has, in the past, accepted honour and is today being pursued by deserved mantles of honour left, right and centre, but who, out of a higher degree of concern for moral correctness and decorous propriety has declined them all but who, to our pleasant surprise, has now decided to honour this school by agreeing to be honoured by it.
“He it was who had at some time in the past held, and, by virtue of the influence he still wields on the political scene, by virtue of the moral force he is capable of exerting, by virtue of the legendary status he enjoys in military circles, and by virtue of the great esteem in which he is held in every nook and corner of Nigerian society, still holds the destiny of the Nigerian nation in his hands. In the past he had made and unmade presidents, toppled governments, and helped in setting them up; but like the proverbial candle, had always burnt himself up so that others would see the light.
“Clearly, General Danjuma owes this nation an explanation why he had consistently declined to lead it at all the important junctures when he could have taken over. Many believed that if he had run this nation as well as he had run his businesses, Nigeria would today have been with Singapore and Malaysia in the First World league.
“Here standing before us today is this extraordinary Nigerian who has adopted the giving of succour to those in true need a way of life. His foundation is a source of relief to those in distress; and his is that broad shoulder on which every tear of distress may be shed; his is that ear in which every anxiety may be whispered; and his is that hand in which every trust may safely be put.
“He is without doubt Nigeria’s greatest fighting man of any age. This intrepid son of Nigeria has been indomitable in battleand magnanimous in victory; but the world does not know how he behaves in defeat, and it will probably never know, because General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, the Abonta of Wukari, has never been defeated. This man before you, Chancellor, Sir, has never been defeated, in battle or at peace, away or at home, in uniform or out of it.

“That is why it is not enough to say Danjuma was a onetime Chief of Army Staff; it must be added that he was the best of them all.  It is not enough to say he is an effective interfaith bridge builder; it must be added that he is the best and most effective and best-equipped of them all. And it is not enough to say he is a philanthropist; it must be added that he is the most generous of them all.

“Standing here before you today and waiting to be honoured is Nigeria’s true, authentic war hero—a scion and true representative and chief exponent of that famous Jukun martial tradition, a committed fighter for national unity, this great breaker of [the war’s] backbones, who decided to bask in the anonymity of collective sacrifice, the real winner of Nigeria’s civil war, who has refused to blow his own trumpet, this gallant warrior without whose exploits then there would have been no Nigeria now.

“And it is therefore only right and proper that this nation should get together on this special occasion, at this place, in this great school to honour this son of Nigeria who has remained undefeated in the many battles that he has fought for the preservation of the Federation and for the defence of federalism with such rare courage, bravery and grace.

“Chancellor, Sir, it is my great pleasure and special privilege at this moment to present Lieutenant General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, GCON, the Abonta of Wukari, the Jagunla of Akure, the Oduagha of Obowu-Etiti for the conferment of the degree of Doctor of Science of Bayero University, Kano, honoris causa.”

Since then, he had been decorated with another doctorate of science by Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria at a special convocation, where he donated 2.3 billion naira to the university, a record beaten only by another record that he holds.

In many ways, his conferment of Jarmai is a return to origin for General Danjuma, whose people, the Kwararafa, rose to prominence around 1500, and within a century, they had invaded Kano—in 1600, in 1650 and again in 1671—and thereafter, they assaulted and humbled Katsina and Zaria, whose Queen Amina would soon extract her revenge; and from there they invaded the great Bornu Empire, an act that was to signalled the beginning of the decline of their own empire.

Originally inhabiting the area stretching from Donga in the south to Pindiga in the north and up to parts of western Cameroun, they can today be found in at least 24 states of the federation: Abia, Adamawa, Anambra, Benue, Borno, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Ondo, Plateau, Sokoto, Taraba and Yobe, all evidence of communities left behind after successful invasions by the legendary Kwararafa horsemen.

Now, Kwararafa has come back to Zazzau, but this time on a peaceful conquest, we must all thank His Highness Alhaji Shehu Idris, the Emir of Zazzau for giving due recognition to history, to patriotic sacrifice, to the spirit of philanthropy and to pre-eminence in individual achievement; and, above all, to General Danjuma’s great potential and greater promise as Sinadarin Arewa. For, in truth, General Danjuma is not just Jarmai Zazzau, he is indeed Jarman Arewa, a fact now generally acknowledged, even without having been formally bestowed. Allah Yaja zamanin Jarmai!