Gen. Aliyu Gusau, Return Home Pls.
Monsieur General! That is the name my friend, whom of course you know very well, and I call you whenever you feature in our discussion. And I must confess that you do so very often. This is no crime sir; anybody at the top has a quiet nickname at the bottom, though he may hardly know it.
The decision to write this piece came by coincidence; that was when I heard the news that the president has sacked NEPA executives while I was reading a copy of cover story of TheNews magazine titled “Obasanjo Trapped”. The story was essentially written to denigrate you. What a coincidence, because the first page of the story in the Magazine was precisely talking about the purported role of the MD of NEPA - Eng. Suleiman, our friend Nasir El-Rufai, and yourself jointly played in frustrating the Independent Power Project of Chief Bola Tinubu WASC (GCI (?), B.Sc. Economics (Chicago (?), B.Sc. Business Admin. (Chicago (?), CPA (?) NYSC (Lagos (?). The coincidence was so striking that I felt compelled to plead for your return home.
Sir, it is getting too much. This government is not on the course of fulfilling the promise that the President made to the nation in his maiden address. This much is clear. The problem lies with the diagnosis made in the media on who is responsible for this failure. Is it the president himself – a person who has occupied that seat before, or someone else? As usual, the press is dumping the heap of failure at the doorstep of the north – the very north that it claimed some few months ago has lost control of power.
It has concocted a theory putting you right at the center, a disturbing effort to shift blame indeed. I seek your indulgence to reproduce here some three paragraphs from the cover story of TheNews (20 March 2000) for the benefit of my readers:
“The dilemma into which he (the President) has been pigeon-holed is two-pronged. The first, internal, is virtually a one-man wrecking crew constituted by President Obasanjo’s National Security Adviser, Alhaji Mohammed Aliyu Gusau. Babangida is coordinating the external forces…bla bla…
“A senator of the Alliance for Democracy who spoke with TheNews attributed most of the hiccups the Obasanjo government is experiencing to skewed security reports from Gusau’s office. The NSA is said to be working at cross-purposes with Obasanjo. Instances were given of the bloody skirmishes involving the Oodua People’s Congress, the Odi massacre and the recent Shariah riots…
“The crisis facing Obasanjo, according to sources, fits perfectly into his plans. The more the nation burns, the more Obasanjo’s image is taken to the cleaners. Sources in Aso Rock spoke of what is in all this for Gusau. ‘The man is the only general among his peers that has not made it to the zenith in Aso Rock. So, he is positioning himself to occupy the hot seat in 2003.’ To do that, Obasanjo’s credibility must be rubbished so irreparably that there will be no prospects for a re-election.”
Nothing can be farther from the truth. That much TheNews was ready to concede, albeit quietly. I say so because halfway through the same story, the writer contradicted himself when he proved in categorical terms how the president is not helping matters either. He was particular on the President’s penchant to squander: the request to the senate to raise his vote for overseas trips from N486million to N1.5billion; entertainment and hospitality allowance to be increased from N230million to N500million; N8billion to purchase a second hand air bus and N900million to re-engine a Boeing 727 aircraft; N10 billion on his poverty alleviation program that is, according to the writer, nothing more than a sham, comparable to NDE and DFRRI of Babangida.
Now one would ask, what has this register of squander got to do with the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA)? What purpose does it serve the argument of the writer that the duo of the NSA and IBB is the bane of Obasanjo’s regime? What is certain is that Obasanjo himself cannot be extricated from his own shortcomings and that of some of his ministers. It is time for both his critics and worshippers to know what type of person he is. He has the disposition, in my judgment, for big appearance, big money and big projects, everything grande, like the French. If they were expecting him to be different from his immediate predecessors, a rethink is inevitable. As for me, I was left in no doubt since he appointed his cabinet.
Nor could the president claim ignorance on the entertaining and ongoing corruption scandals that are reported daily in the press. When the history of this regime will be written at the end of its tenure, it is not your purported desire to succeed Obasanjo that will sabotage the chance for his re-election, but his squander, blunders and fumbles on the one hand, and the corruption of his ministers and accolades on the other.
His supporters, exemplified by the southern press, know this very well. They are now jittery that some people are already compiling a list of such corruption activities. In the same issue of TheNews, it is reported that, according to Godwin Daboh, “massive dossiers the camps had acquired over the years on key actors in the Obasanjo administration will be readily employed to discredit Obasanjo wherever his enemies deem fit. Currently, every kobo spent by any member of the President’s cabinet and the main target himself and contracts awarded by the administration ‘are systematically and discreetly monitored” by the conspirators. In one instance, the hounds unearthed that one of Obasanjo’s ministers “purchased an item originally worth N125,000 for N346,000 per unit.”
Why should Obasanjo and his host of admirers jitter because an angel or a devil is preparing such a dossier? Do they think that after all what the country went through in the past sixteen years there will be a leader that will just come and go ‘un-dossiered’? Their primary concern right now, in my view, should not be to bother about this or that dossier. There has to be dossiers since this is a democracy, or so is claimed. But the government itself must resist the temptation to be corrupt in the first place. If the President would, as he chooses, turn a blind eye to his own shortcomings or that of his ministers, he should have only himself to blame, not you, Monsieur General.
And this brings us to the issue of probing past regimes that this government has undertaken. I feel it has been overtaken by events. In some cases it will even lead to an embarrassment for the government. It will serve itself a better purpose, for lack of moral standing, if the present government looks forward and tackles the corruption in its midst than engage in faultfinding the past. And it must not run the risk of digging a trench that will be too deep for its height, setting a standard that it will not live up to and with which it will certainly be found guilty in the near future.
What Haruna Adamu’s team is doing at the PTF must be seen in this context. Their faultfinding mission will definitely boomerang. The government must be too foolish not to know that. I tell you that, going by the low standards of the present regime, the exercise is completely useless. Meanwhile, Haruna will do himself more justice if he restricts himself to his term of reference. This is a point which I think even the President has made at a time. I say this because your name is often associated, wrongly I believe, with what Haruna Adamu is doing currently, that you are out to tarnish the image of General Buhari at all cost. And Buhari has said many times that he is ready to defend himself before any panel, from his days as a head-boy in the secondary school to his tenure as PTF chairman.
The south is looking for a scapegoat to cover Obasanjo’s failure, and they are making you one. Just imagine that even the woeful failure of Bola Ige is skewed to implicate you. Hmmm. The guy should resign and be a full time “Hutu” columnist. He is hereby welcome by another who is a “Tutsi”.
Since they are accusing you now for taking the President hostage, it is better to call it quit, allowing them to play their game of failure to completion alone. That should be now, because they would then have three years to prove their much-trumpeted competence in your absence.
In fact, I will not be surprised if by the time this article is published the President has listened to the advice of TheNews and sent you packing. The magazine has boasted of having his ear. But before then, please accept my congratulations in advance. If, on the other hand, it turns out that you are still on the NSA job, I will maintain my stand that the headache from the accusations is not worth it. Your effort in convincing the President to run for the office and in seeing him through the electioneering campaign is enough a contribution that will be acknowledged. This is the chance for the south. Let them have the freedom to play their game alone.
Return home sir. Retournez, mon Monsieur General. S’il vous plait!