Former Minister of Defence, General Theophilus Danjuma (rtd.) has said Nigeria lacked the capacity to govern itself because the country had not fared better since independence in 1960.He said this in Lagos yesterday during an interview with journalists at the 42nd CVL Leader Without Title (LWT); Leadership Tribute Colloquium at his 80th birthday.
Danjuma, who associated the rot in governance to impunity in the country’s public service, said the decay set in after the nation’s independence with the rapid ‘Nigerianisation’ of public service.
His words: “I remember that in the mid-1980s during the second Republic, the late Governor Sam Mbakwe of Imo State one day while lamenting the excesses of his opponents, stated that British colonial rule was too brief for Nigerians to learn the art and science of governance.“I disagreed with that assertion because all the institutions of government that the British colonial administration left behind in 1960 functioned very effectively.
“The rot began to set in only after our independence with the rapid ‘Nigerianisation’ of public service, selective application of sanctions and lately, impunity in our public service have gone viral. This is why things are getting worse than ever.”Danjuma argued that the greatest challenge facing the country was corruption, which he likened to cancer that has affected all the vital organs of the Nigerian society.
“Health and education are not the greatest challenges facing our country; our greatest challenge today is corruption. TY Danjuma foundation was not established to fight or even address corruption,” he stated. He said Chief Olu Akinkugbe and the late Chief Mathias Ugochukwu inspired him to greatness and described leadership as humility and the ability to know one’s limitations.
Meanwhile, it was pomp and pageantry as former Commonwealth Secretary General of Commonwealth, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Akinkuge and others lauded Danjuma’s virtues, describing him as a man of integrity and diligence.Anyaoku noted that prior to his appointment as Chairman, Special Military Tribunal to Trinidad and Tobago between 1970 and 1971, somebody recommended him for the position.
According to him, we needed somebody that was diligent, capable and an introvert. Danjuma met all the criteria and after he completed the service he was described as being found worthy of the post.
Speaking, founder of CVL, Prof Pat Utomi, noted that even in retirement, Danjuma had demonstrated that there was no better business in retirement than philanthropy. He has pursued philanthropy with much vigour, as he did in other endeavors with success.