Written by AbdulFattah Olajide & Muhammed S. Shehu:

Top spymaster Lt. Gen. Aliyu Mohamed Gusau (rtd) bounced back as National Security Adviser (NSA) to the president yesterday, four years after he last quit the post in 2006 in order to seek the ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s (PDP) presidential ticket. It would be the fourth time in 25 years that Gusau would hold this post, having held it twice under military ruler General Ibrahim Babangida and for another 6 and a half years under President Olusegun Obasanjo.  

Gusau’s appointment was announced last night after Acting President Goodluck Jonathan removed retired Major General Abdullahi Sarki Mukhtar, who was appointed to the post by Obasanjo in 2006 and retained by President Umaru Yar’adua in 2007.

Jonathan’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity Mr. Ima Niboro announced the changes in a terse statement soon after yesterday’s inaugural National Security Council meeting chaired by Jonathan.

Although no reason was given for Mukhtar’s removal, Daily Trust gathered that it was not unconnected with the renewed sectarian violence in Jos and the recent mobilisation of the Brigade of Guards without the acting president’s knowledge during President Umaru Musa Yar’adua’s return to the country after a 93-day medical sojourn in Saudi Arabia.

Presidency sources said although the police had earlier alerted the nation on the likelihood of re-eruption of violence in Jos, the former NSA did not act on the police security report.

Gen. Mukhtar was also said to have been involved in the mobilisation of troops for Yar’adua’s return without clearance from the acting president, who is the acting Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces.

Niboro only said, “Jonathan thanked the former NSA for his services to the nation and the present administration, and wished him well in his future endeavours.”

The new NSA General Gusau actually handed over to Mukhtar in 2006, having held the position since Obasanjo’s inauguration in May 1999. Before his re-emergence as a major PDP player in 1998-99 and one of the small group of retired Generals who orchestrated Obasanjo’s return to power, Gusau had been the Chief of Army Staff under Chief Ernest Shonekan’s Interim National Government. He was retired soon after General Sani Abacha overthrew the ING in November 1993.

Prior to his appointment as Army Chief in the dying days of Babangida’s regime, Gusau served twice [1987-89 and 1990-93] as the regime’s National Security Adviser, having earlier headed the Directorate of Military Intelligence. He also served as General Officer Commanding [GOC] the army’s 2 Division, Ibadan in 1989-90. A native of Zamfara State, General Gusau was also the godfather of the Zamfara State PDP, at least until Governor Mamuda Shinkafi left the ANPP and joined the Zamfara PDP last year. He finished third in the PDP’s presidential primaries of December 2006, after Yar’adua and Chief Rochas Okorocha.

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