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DISCOMFORTING SIGNALS

By NBF News

That is why I believe Jonathan is not desperate to win next year's election. Unlike some people we know, the race, for Jonathan, is not a do-or-die thing. If it were, the President would have since appointed, as the new National Security Adviser (NSA), a certain retired soldier, who has promised to help him crush his real and perceived opponents and their acolytes.

In fact, the man had not only pledged to do it, but had actually laid out an irresistible plan on how to go about it. He put it all down in black and white in an 18-page secret memo to the President, which luckily for all of us, the president has refused to act upon. For if he does, we'd all, by now, be looking for the nearest NADECO routes to Benin Republic, Togo, Ghana, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Niger, Cameroun and even Chad (not minding the insecurity there).

I'd have let the matter die with the refusal of the president to act on the evil memo - or even appoint this desperado to his dream job, but I am disturbed that, more than 12 years after Abacha, and after 11 years of unbroken democracy (no matter how k-legged it has been), we still have in our midst supposedly responsible people who are still nostalgic about the Abacha way of doing things. And who, given the slightest opportunity, would still want to throw us back to those dark days.

Yes, I know a few people would counter that we still saw a lot of the Abacha tactics during the eight years of Obasanjo. I can't fault that. But I thought we were beginning to emerge from it. And then, this latest memo from the blue.

Those 18 pages of anti-democratic desperation have only confirmed one thing for me: Apart from one or two cases, we have never really had really bad heads of government in this country. It is just that there always seems to be something in our system that turns good people into bad. What we are cursed with are bad aides. So, even if the President Jonathan, or any of the other aspirants, promises today that he'd run a clean campaign - campaign of issues not personalities, we still can't take that to the bank, because his aides have not spoken.

Every new president (including Abacha) gets to office with all the big intentions, but soon surrounds himself with an army of self-serving aides and appointees who derail him so much that he loses focus, redefines his goals mid-way, approximates his own perceived insecurity into national insecurity and begins to hound people who never as much as wished him bad. That was how we lost Abacha to the machinations of the Gwarzos and Al-Mustaphas of this world. They scared him so much with marabouts and spurious security reports that he no longer felt safe to even go take a bath, let alone step out of Aso Rock. So much so that when his health deteriorated, we his real people could not even see him to raise alarm that his managers do something about it. And the man died.

Of course, Obasanjo needed nobody to put evil thoughts in him. They came naturally to him, so there's no point going into that. The same cannot, however, be said of Jonathan. But before our eyes, one evil officer wants to make a devil out of the president. And painfully, it is coming from an officer who really smelt the rod under Abacha. An otherwise likeable officer whom we all sympathized with when Abacha's goons gave him the most inhuman treatment imaginable. Now, it appears our sympathy was misplaced.

Now, instead of that Abacha maltreatment sobering him up for life, he has turned round to become the campaigner for a return to the Abacha years, all in the name of politics.

Now, I am beginning to think, way back in 1995 and 1997, Abacha saw something we all could not see - the more reason I believe we still owe the late goggled General a national apology.

I know many readers would be expecting me to mention the name of this retired Colonel. Well, sorry to disappoint you, I am not man enough to say the name. I need to consult my lawyers first.

However, the crux of the matter is: while we were all focused on Eagle Square and Wadata Plaza, engrossed in politics of declaration, zoning, second term, Jega's INEC's timetable and race against time, and the accompanying murk that goes with all of that, many of us failed to notice that a retired General who has recently been rehabilitated on tax payers money wrote a memo to the president detailing out how he can cut down all his political opponent, while pretending to be working in the interest of the country.

Even those who took notice of the report soon forgot about, it as other less serious, but obviously more exciting developments pushed it out of the front page. What we failed to comprehend, however, is that that failed letter is a rude throw-back to a past we would rather wish away.

Yes. A man whom, I'm told, has (on two occasions) come within whiskers of landing the job of National Security Adviser in this country (and only just lost out again for the third time) submitted an unsolicited 'security report' to the presidency.

I am told it is in his desperation to impress it on Jonathan that he is loyal and would make every enemy of Jonathan's his own personal enemy too.

It reminds one of the Abacha days when everyone who dared hold an opposing view automatically became an enemy of the state and was hounded down with every resource at the disposal of the state - including its military might.

Those the ex-soldier had lined up for roasting include Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Governor Sule Lamido of Jigawa State, Bukola Saraki, Isa Yuguda, his Zamfara counterpart, Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta, Gombe's Danjuma Goje, Atiku Abubakar, Gen. Aliyu Mohammed Gusau (who, incidentally is the immediate past NSA) Mallam Adamu Ciroma and other members of Northern Political Elders Forum, some leaders of the ANPP etc.

According to the secret letter, the reason Sule Lamido must be dealt with is because he is the arrowhead of the 'Jonathan must go' campaign and was instrumental to the emergence of the Saraki presidency idea as a way of checkmating Jonathan. The memo writer never bothered to recall that the idea of a Saraki ambition had been on the front burner even while Yar'Adua was still alive.

But the other dangerous arm of the memo was its recommendation that an economic war be unleashed (in this already parlous economy) in pursuit of this political ambition. It suggested that Jonathan should begin a clampdown on the businesses of a certain businessman who is arguably Nigeria's richest man and probably it's highest employer of high networth labour today. The billionaire's only offence, for which all that he owns (including oil blocs) must be taken from him, is that he is close to IBB and is likely to bankroll the former military president's campaign.

Furthermore, this bid to starve the Minna General of funds to run his 2011 presidential election campaign also led the retired officer - who until now was regarded as an IBB boy - into recommending a clampdown on the import of Toyota vehicles into the country, since, according to him, IBB has a cut on every Toyota car imported into Nigeria (a big lie).

But then, that is how these people sit either in the comfort of their homes, or in some beer parlour somewhere, string lies together and pass it on as 'security report'.

Thank God for a more discerning Jonathan, we have been saved the national tragedy of unleashing such desperate character on us as NSA. A less discerning president would have jumped at the opportunity of appointing a security adviser who would have unalloyed loyalty to him. For such people usually end up either turning against the principal, or blindly leading the principal to self-destruction.

Now, with this memo now on the internet, it has made it even more difficult for the president to genuinely pursue any corrupt public officer without a 2011 election meaning being read into it.