Jan. 25, 2014
Retired General Mohammmed Aliyu Gusau is in his 70s. Since his retirement as the Chief of Army Staff, Aliyu had continued to hold top sensitive positions in government for various administrations. He is a “politician”, whose major outing in politics is an ambitious quest to be the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which he tried actualising by contesting against his benefactors, including Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan.
While one may have no qualms with the appointment of General Gusau into any political office, his current nomination as minister is rather puzzling. The media was recently awash with stories that he had given President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan some conditions before he could accept any nomination to the current Federal Executive Council. Other reports claimed that he demanded for the creation of the Office of Coordinating Minister of Security Defence to be in-charge of all security related activities of the armed forces, security agencies and paramilitary organisations.
While the ambitious request may be considered and granted, though it could run contrary to the enabling statutory laws, there may also be a land mine on the track as the proposed office of the new minister may assume the power of the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces.
The question is: Can General Aliyu Gusau be entrusted with the national security apparatuses at this moment, considering his antecedents and especially the way and manner he exposed the Nigerian government, its agencies, political parties activities and other private lives of individuals and even the operation of security agencies to foreign missions, which have been widely published on the internet by the whistle blower, Wikileak.
Reexamining the Wikileak reports on Nigeria, General Aliyu Gusau was prominently mentioned for divulging sensitive information to the American operatives. This is contained in various classified information by former American Ambassadors to Nigeria, especially Sanders and Campbel, which had been released by Wikileak and available on the internet. In one of the leak report, it was disclosed that “General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau on the fringes of his visit to the Embassy to renew his visa for yearly medical visit to USA, was considered a good source on ruling PDP maneuverings” as he divulged sensitive information to the US diplomats.
While offering his assessment of the limitations of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission under Farida Waziri, he “volunteered that he was associated with a consultancy in the process of possibly reorganising the EFCC and he forwarded a copy of the proposal to the US Mission the following day.” In the Wikilieak report, the US diplomat stated thus: “Meetings with the former National Security Advisor are always fruitful for his useful bits of information, particularly on PDP party politics.”
Surprisingly, some of the information he gave to the US office on political alignments, realignment in Nigeria, especially during the Yar’Adua administration were wishy-washy and irritating ranting that are faulty even to common sense. He mentioned many political gladiators, including Atiku Abubakar, Bukola Saraki, Dimeji Bankole and Isa Yuguda.
In another instance while lobbying American support his candidacy for president, he described former President Nelson Mandela as “advanced in age and sometimes senile.”
On the military operation to curtail acts of terrorism and vandalism, Aliyu was quoted in the Wikileak as telling the Americans that “the military is losing and is being outgunned”. He deflected questions about what the military’s response will be by saying the military “read the papers”. He was also quoted to have said that “the DG of the State Security Service also characterised the Delta as lost cause.”
There were other visits he made to the US Embassy to give them clues on happenings in the country and advised them accordingly. One of such visits filed by Ambassador Campbell stated that “the real purpose of General Gusau’s call apparently was to request a high-level U.S. message about the inadequacies of a Yar’Adua candidacy. He mentioned a message in support of elections and democracy only when the Ambassador demurred on the first request. Mohammed preferred an oral message and his cautionary view about Obasanjo’s potential “misuse” of a written message is interesting. The embassy nevertheless noted that “while there is the risk, as cited by Aliyu, that a Presidential letter could be misused by Obasanjo, it is ‘small’.”
Apart from those weighty allegations of leakage of sensitive and confidential information on Nigeria to foreign missions, his over ambition to rule the country is another point worthy of consideration not necessarily by the members of the National Assembly who are to screen the ministerial nominees, but by President Goodluck Jonathan himself who should not allow his executive powers to be eroded by ambitious politicians.
Other pertinent issues worthy of contemplation is that General Gusau was the NSA in charge of securing Nigeria when the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta and Boko Haram terrorists evolved; the massacre of Odi and Zaki Biam were under his watch as security adviser. Most disturbing were allegations that that General Gusau as NSA did not prepare any report on the state of terror initiated by Boko Haram.
There won’t be anything wrong if the spymaster is given any other appointment in government but not on sensitive security issues that he could not handle effectively in the past. This is especially now that the security forces are recording successes in containing the insurgency in the North-East.
Sunny Osaze writes from Nnebisi Road in Asaba, Delta State.