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  • on 10.03.2014
  • at 03:00 PM
  • by Kevin Hind

G is for Gusau: Jonathan Turns to Nigeria’s Soldier Spy in the Fight Against Boko Haram 0

In a move seen by many as his last throw of the dice in the fight against Boko Haram, President Goodluck Jonathan last week picked an old face in Nigerian politics to be his new defence minister.

The government’s efforts in combating the Islamist militants in the north of the country have proven ineffective recently despite Jonathan replacing his military top brass in January, and the president will be hoping the seasoned veteran Aliyu Mohammed Gusau can finally lead a turnaround in fortunes. In January and February of this year alone, Boko Haram killed over 600 civilians.

Gusau certainly has an impressive CV for the job having held a series of high-level positions in government over the past three or so decades, including Director of Military Intelligence, National Security Advisor, and Army Chief. Gusau clearly knows Nigeria’s military terrain better than most, and as of last week, can add to his roster of job titles not only Defence Minister but possibly also Coordinating Minister of Defence, a role in which he would oversee all aspects of Nigeria’s defence establishments.

With the situation in the north-east looking desperate, the government appears to be playing Gusau as its trump card. However, given the veteran’s controversial history and position within Nigeria’s political landscape, many commentators are reading more in Gusau’s recent ascension than just the appointment of a safe pair of hands.

G is for Gusau

Gusau has been a central figure in much of post-independence Nigeria, and his time in government reads like a spy thriller, fraught with intrigue, switching allegiances with burning ambition.

To begin with, Gusau was an integral member of the military clique which overthrew the elected president Shehu Shagari in 1983. Gusau became Director of Military Intelligence under Shagari’s successor Muhammadu Buhari, before collaborating with disgruntled elements within the army to topple his boss once again, placing his friend Ibrahim Babangida in charge of the country. Gusau held a number of high-level defence positions in Babangida’s administration before he was retired by Sani Abacha in 1995 as Nigeria’s latest head of state attempted to consolidate his hold on power.

Gusau did not fade into the background for long, however, and when Olusegun Obasanjo came to power in 1999, Gusau helped the president take control of the armed forces. The comeback kid was rewarded with the familiar role of National Security Advisor which he left in 2006 to compete to be the ruling People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential candidate.

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By Lagun AkinloyeThink Africa Press 

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