On Tuesday May 1, 2012, while making a remark at one of the many, well-earned events marking the 50th birthday celebrations of LEADERSHIP Newspapers’ publisher Sam Nda Isaiah, General T. Y. Danjuma said Borno and Yobe are failed states. On May 4, 2012, General Muhammad (Maman) Shuwa joined issues with Danjuma where he expressed regret that the well respected former Army Chief and former defense minister had said what he said about Borno (in particular) being a failed state. To make his point Shuwa undersigned a full page advertorial in the Daily Trust edition of 4/5/12 (P.11). Then a week later, on 11/5/12, Adamu Adamu, the very erudite Daily Trust columnist jumped into the fray and published an article entitled: “In defense of Danjuma”. In the article Adamu went on to defend Danjuma’s position and of course invariably maligned Shuwa almost to the point of reprimanding him for daring to disagree with Danjuma’s position.
Although it would seem like the pair of Adamu and Danjuma are at loggerheads with the solitary position of Shuwa, it is important to point out the striking similarities between all three. One, if any of those three gentlemen should warn that “there is fire on the mounting”, almost everybody that knows them will believe them, and run away. Over the years all three have built a solid reputation for themselves as persons of proven integrity and role models per excellence. Two, their opinions might vary, but there is no doubt about their motives. The whole argument
and counter argument centre around the deadly security challenges confronting the North in particular and the nation at large. All three are concerned that the situation is escalating and could lead to anarchy.
Under the circumstances all three should be in the same room, having sleepless nights, trying to develop a roadmap out of the present quagmire, and not exchanging flak in the media. Adamu Adamu actually came close to making that self-indicting admission when he mentioned the (national) misfortune of having the military brass “washing it’s dirty lining in public” (by the way, that lamentation too was misplaced. The two Generals are having a difference of opinion, not washing their dirty linings in public. If anything their disagreement is a mere reflection of their frustrations and the complexity of the problem rather than a display of any dirty linings. By their reputations, as Adamu himself admitted, neither has any
lining too dirty to be washed in public).
Equally important to put on record is this: This article is not in defense of Gen. Shuwa, because he had himself said one or two things he needn’t have said, such as the reference to Taraba state. It is, rather, in support of Shuwa’s general position.
By declaring Borno a failed state, General Danjuma was technically wrong and politically, well, incorrect (but tactless would have been a better word). Technically Borno is not an entity that can fail in the way and manner Danjuma had implied. In the standard definition of a State, Borno is a component unit of one, and not a State in itself. Borno has no standing army or police which failure it can be blamed for. It has no control over immigration or emigration. It has no powers over the use or ownership of firearms and ammunitions. It can not redefine its borders; no control over customs or the prison service. Its influence on diplomatic relations with even its nearest neighbours is dependent upon the inclination of the
federal government of which it is 1/36 of a part. Considering that these are the basic ingredients which effective functioning or malfunction is used to determine the success or failure of a State, it is the height of injustice to describe Borno state as a failed state. Even by his own definition, Adamu’ explanation of what constitutes the failure of a state aptly captured the absurdity of Danjuma’s categorization of Borno and Yobe as failed states. Adamu had stated:”The ingredients of state failure, many of which predate the current crisis, are essentially seven in number: erosion of legitimate authority, loss of control over territory, an inability to provide efficient public services, criminality and widespread corruption, sharp economic decline, loss of monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, which leads to the creation of a refugee problem and involuntary movements of the population…”There you have it! Although he tried, Adamu could not find anywhere in the world, a parallel example of a state that has failed as Danjuma applied to Borno and Yobe; the closest example Adamu could find were Afghanistan and Somalia. These are countries, not regions or units or states within a State.
Clearly if any state has failed, it is the Nigerian State, but for some very curious reasons Danjuma failed short of his own mythical standard by refusing, at least this time, to “say it like it is”, a definitive cliche his admirers employ every time they speak about his character. What he did instead could be likened to a person ignoring the shortcomings of the eyes, the brain and the instinct; and blaming the foot instead, for crashing into a stone, thereby causing the rest of the body to limp.
The political incorrectness of Danjuma’s remarks was underscored by the very simple but morally challenging question that Shuwa put to him. In his advertorial Shuwa had sought to know when was the last time that General Danjuma visited Maiduguri to assess the situation for himself? Adamu Adamu should have answered that question, having taken the fight away from Danjuma. But he didn’t, instead he evaded it altogether. In social science, Direct Observation is the closest equivalent to laboratory experiment that is used with authority in the physical sciences in data gathering technic and in arriving at conclusions. If Danjuma hadn’t visited Maiduguri lately, then he ought to–and he should please take Mallam Adamu Adamu with him. The pair would then be in a better position to appreciate why General Shuwa, who had maintained a most dignified silence for years found it necessary to publicly caution an officer he admits is a gentleman and a nationalist. It would also help if both Danjuma and Adamu could refer to the Editorial comment of the Vanguard newspaper edition of 7/5/12, as quoted by the inimitable Ishaq Modibbo Kawu in his column in the same newspaper of 17/5/12. Only a small portion of that editorial is relevant here and it reads:”Matters are more depressing when Gen. Danjuma joins the debate…Who was he (Danjuma) trying to deceive? Can governors who do not command a single policeman be the Chief security officer of anything?” In addition to the question posed by Shuwa, this is another fine one. As for Adamu, how I wished he had stayed out of that debate.
Garba Deen Muhammad, [email protected]