Danjuma, a former Number Two man, who said this during the Murtala Muhammed 40th Memorial Lecture that held at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, with President Muhammadu Buhari, among several dignitaries in attendance, applauded the virtues and leadership qualities of the late Gen. Muhammed.
“February 13, 1976 was a Friday. In English mythology -I don’t know how it started, but the combination of Friday and the number 13, represent bad luck.
“When I remember that day; it leaves me with varied emotions because I too had been condemned to die by Dimka and his associates.
“In fact, on the list that he brought to General Iliya Bissalla, our then Commissioner of Defence, to seek his approval, I was number three on the death list.
“Bissalla promoted me to number two. That I am still alive today is by the grace of God.”
He enjoined the Murtala Mohammed Foundation to ensure a proper documentation of its activities for posterity. He promised to finance a documentary of the foundation’s activities on television.
Danjuma stressed the importance of accurate record of events to avoid distortions by those who know nothing about what happened.
On his part, President Buhari described the late military ruler as a man with extra-ordinary passion who was in a hurry to make Nigeria better.
He noted that although his late boss had a not-too-easy relationship with some of his colleagues in the Army, his loyalty and dedication to his fatherland was never in doubt.
“His life, short though it proved to be, was marked by an extraordinary passion, energy and determination to do better, and to make Nigeria better. These are values that young and old alike should all remember – and celebrate.”
“By dint of sheer bravery, improvisation and resourcefulness, he mustered a rag-tag group of soldiers, integrated them into an entirely new division, knocked them into fighting shape, recovered Mid-West and ventured across the Niger. Alas, there were terrible casualties on both sides.
“But Murtala’s motto was to get the job done as quickly as possible; sacrifice and loss were part of the risks of war.
“Relations between Murtala and some other senior officers were not always easy. But no one could doubt his inspirational qualities or call into question his love and dedication in the service of Nigeria.”
Buhari further explained that Murtala Muhammed’s death robbed the nation of a leader who was determined to deal with the menace of corruption and indiscipline with an uncommon zeal.
Buhari said within the six months of Gen. Muhammed’s rule, he was able to articulate a clear vision of the legacies he was bequeathing to Nigeria, noting that the late general was instrumental to the creation of additional states and laying the foundation for moving the Federal Capital from Lagos to Abuja.
President Buhari enjoined all present to see the occasion as one of celebration and not of mourning because the late icon lived a life worthy of emulation.
In his key note address, General David Richards, former Chief of the Defence Staff, United Kingdom, said Nigeria deserved more accolades for its human and material sacrifice in resolving the conflict in Sierra-Leone than it had gotten.
Richards who spoke on “Regional Security and State Building: Portents and Prospects”, noted that the tendency to recommend the same template for tackling crisis in each state had proved a sad lesson re-lent across continents over the years.
He also noted that contemporary insurgency required a new strategy to tackle because the force of arms alone could not resolve issues therein.
The retired Army General noted that the growth of social media, rivalries among states and on-line real time news adds to the complications experienced in trying to manage conflict.
Richards said, “The loss of the control of the agenda is the greatest threat to the World Order” adding that, states must now do more to gain and retain public confidence through the provision of quality leadership.