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Gen.Gasau,Powerful adviser to president resigns

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  A powerful security adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan has resigned his post to seek the nation's highest office himself, a spokesman said Sunday, as questions swirl about Jonathan's power base as the October party primaries near. Meanwhile, Jonathan abruptly canceled a trip to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly this week without offering an explanation.

  Former National Security Adviser Aliyu Gusau resigned his position on Friday and planned to pick up a nomination form for the People's Democratic Party, spokesman Adekunle Adebisi said. Gusau, a retired Army general , is a powerful, behind-the-scenes player in Nigeria 's military and security agencies.

  Gusau served as a national security adviser to President Olusegun Obasanjo, but was replaced after he announced his own presidential ambitions in 2007. Gusau later dropped away and Obasanjo's pick, Umaru Yar'Adua, became president through an election marred by violence and vote rigging .

  Jonathan brought Gusau back as an adviser this March after religious and ethnic violence flared again in Nigeria 's fertile central belt. However, rumors about Gusau's own political ambitions persisted.

  The entry of Gusau into the presidential primary adds another challenge for Jonathan, who formally announced his bid Saturday during a rally in the nation's capital of Abuja .

  An unwritten power-sharing agreement within the ruling party calls for the presidency to alternate between candidates from Nigeria 's mainly Christian south and Muslim north.

  Jonathan, a Christian from the country's south, became president after the May 5 death of Yar'Adua, a Muslim from the north. Since Yar'Adua died while still in his first term, some leaders in the north believe their region has another term due to them.

  Gusau, former military dictator Ibrahim Babangida and former vice president Atiku Abubakar — all Muslims from the north — say they'll seek the ruling party's nomination. That sets up what could be a fierce fight through the party's October primaries.

  Whoever comes as out as the People's Democratic Party nominee likely will win the Jan. 22 presidential election, as only that party has the political muscle necessary to guarantee a win in Nigeria's unruly and corrupt electoral system.

  Jonathan may be feeling some of that pressure already. On Sunday, he abruptly canceled a trip to New York , even though he was scheduled to attend the General Assembly and speak at Columbia University . The move comes after Jonathan appointed new leaders for the nation's military and security services Sept. 8 in an attempt to cement his power in the oil-rich nation. Culled from AP