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WHERE GEN ALIYU GUSAU GOOFED

PHOTO: NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, NSA, RETIRED GENERAL ALIYU GUSAU.
PHOTO: NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER, NSA, RETIRED GENERAL ALIYU GUSAU.


He is arguably Nigeria’s most celebrated spymaster. He is the don of them all. In matters of security and politics, General Aliyu Gusau is way ahead of any soldier alive, or so it seems. He sees himself in self glorification terms and ascribes to himself as the biggest gift God gave to Nigeria’s security. His recent re-appointment by President Goodluck Jonathan has reinforced that image.

In security circles, Aliyu Gusau is viewed in awe and trepidation, with an image of a colossus who is feared and revered almost in equal measure by foes and friends alike. On his way to his current comeback, the fifth in a career spanning almost four decades, Gusau was believed to have used his wide range of connections to undo his immediate successor and predecessor, General Sarki Muktar. It is alleged that he kept telling everybody around the corridors of power who gave him his ear that the man from whom he has now grabbed the coveted office of National Security Adviser was incompetent to hold that office. In a prophetic pronouncement, the removed General Muktar is reported to have said just before he handed over to Gusau that as a human being, he couldn’t have been perfect and that he must have made some mistakes while in office. He appealed for understanding saying that he did everything in good faith.

Unfortunately, the first public pronouncements of General Gusau since he took over border mainly on an obsession to pull people down, without stating their areas of guilt. This course of action surprised many because all his professional life he has done his job quietly without pandering to the temptation to seek undue publicity. Those who knew him at close quarters say that Gusau elevated the art of silence while being very effective on the job to a sort of a norm in security matters until this his last coming when he began to expose an inkling to bring others down. He has raised a frightening alarm over the state of affairs in Nigeria. Without as much as arming himself with verifiable facts to support his claims, our national security Czar opened his mouth and uttering garbage and calling to question the integrity of both the CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi and EFCC Chairman Farida Waziri.

Not that I have any business with either of them, but decency demands that those who come to equity must do so with clean hands. Those who live in glass houses are always reminded not to throw stones. If Gusau must rate others lowly on account of a jaundiced and unlettered assessment of institutions, he must spare us the indignity of listening to thrash-can-like ill informed delusions. Have we overrated this spy master? How come we always give too much brain to some people just because they have shown a flash-in-the-pan boldness? He clearly goofed and this has shown us that most of these highly rated leaders are more often than not unworthy of our ratings. Gusau may have been a spy master of international repute and I still believe that he may earned his plaudits; but as a politician I am beginning to see him in very uncomplimentary terms owing primarily to wrong diagnosis of our problems particularly on monetary and corruption issues.

Speaking at a seminar organized by his office on security awareness for newly appointed Ministers, the National Security Adviser literally took Nigeria to the cleaners. The event was held on Saturday the 17th of April at his office. In a comprehensive review of our socio-economic system, the ‘security expert’ came to a conclusion, even though he did not use the exact words that ‘Nigeria is a failed state’. In his words, "the security of lives, properties, livelihood and even foreign investment is threatened by crime. It is now difficult to prosecute offenders because of lengthy delays in court processes while innocent persons are kept awaiting trial almost indefinitely thereby turning them into criminals."

On corruption in Nigeria, he said the malaise was a threat to the country’s survival. He regretted that the current anti corruption campaign by government through anti-corruption agencies has been ineffective in stemming this threat."This is because it penalizes a few unfortunate individuals, while society sees many they consider guilty enjoying their loot in freedom. Some of the agencies involved in anti-corruption have credibility problems, because of the activities of those who head the agencies."

He then moved to the banking sector. There, he descended heavily on reforms set in motion by Lamido Sanusi who was appointed Governor of the Bank by President Umaru Yar’Adua. He said the travails of the sector reflect the double standards that critics see in the administration of justice. A few banks he opined were being punished for sharp practices that all banks had committed.

"Caution should have been observed due to the fragility of the economy and offenders ought to have been punished without damaging the sector." He lamented that the ongoing intervention by the CBN "seemed to have needlessly damaged economic activity in the banking sector to the detriment of the larger society."

The National Security Adviser said nothing new. The problem with his speech is that he should not have spoken so freely after accepting to serve in that sensitive office. By virtue of his position, he has free access to the President whether Acting or substantive. He could have channelled his concerns as expressed in the speech and captured by almost all newspapers to the President. By going public with his complaints, he gave the unfortunate impression that the Acting President does not share his concerns or maybe does not even listen to him. Was the National Security Adviser misrepresented by the newspapers? Or is he just trying to play to the gallery in readiness to flying kites over his touted ambition to become president come 2011

Two, three weeks after his speech was reported, he has kept mute suggesting that what he was reported to have said was rightly reported. The newspapers therefore reported correctly. In fact an officer summarized Gen Gusau’s speech and distributed it as a press release. This means the office considered the message there so important that they wanted it given maximum publicity!

This demoralizing message about the rule of law, crime, corruption and a collapsed banking system are no doubt at the heart of our malaise as a nation. They look up to those in authority, those they elected into government to come up with solutions. They do not expect them to throw up their hands in frustration as General Gusau has done. It is sad that at a critical time when Nigeria is demoralized and confused a National Security Chief who should inspire confidence in the populace is there on the roof top announcing that the situation is hopeless! With ‘experts’ like Gusau in high places, it is little wonder that Nigeria is where it is today.

The office of National Security Adviser is modelled on what obtains in the United States of America. General Gusau’s recent outburst however shows clearly how we copy things from foreign models and apply them wrongly. Gen Gusau contested the PDP primaries against Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and lost. Now he has been appointed into a high office in the Yar’Adua/Jonathan government and he is waging a virulent campaign against the same government that gave him a chance to serve.

Maybe we should compare what he has done with the situation in the US to make the point more poignantly. Recently, Mrs Hilary Clinton contested the primaries of the Democratic Party against Barrack Obama. The primaries were very bitter and nobody expected Mrs Clinton to work under Obama. But today she occupies the very strategic position of Secretary of State. It will be unheard of for her to mount the rostrum to start a vicious attack on Obama’s policies, be they domestic or foreign. Doing so will have given ammunition to critics to shoot the government down on a charge of conflict of interest.

The CBN Governor Sanusi Lamido Sanusi has not done any wrong by exposing those criminal bankers. Need I say more?

Monguno wrote this piece from Abuja and can be reached on 0705 767 9999 or e-mail; [email protected]


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