By Elizabeth Archibong:

Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday fired the National Security Adviser, Sarki Mukhtar, and replaced him with a former holder of the office, Aliyu Gusau.

Mr. Mukhtar was appointed NSA in 2007 by President Yar’Adua following the retirement of Mr. Gusau, who was the National Security Adviser to former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.

A terse statement from the office of the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan, signed by his Senior Special Adviser on the Media, Ima Niboro, simply stated that Mr. Gusau will replace Mr. Mukhtar.

The statement added that Mr. Jonathan “thanked the outgoing NSA for his services to the nation and the present administration, and wished him well in his future endeavours.”

The announcement came after a four-hour meeting of the National Security Council, which was chaired by Mr. Jonathan and attended by the heads of most security agencies, including Mr. Mukhtar.

After the meeting, the council members all appeared in a haste to leave and none agreed to any interview with reporters. However, Mr. Niboro, who had been mandated by the group to speak, said the renewed crisis in Jos was one of the issues discussed and “measures are being put in place” to curb the crisis in Jos South, Plateau State.

“As you all know gentlemen, this is National Security Council meeting and usually there is no press briefing after this meeting,” Mr. Niboro said.

“Because of the situation in Jos, we are willing to make a remark to let Nigerians know that the issue has come up for serious discussion and measures are being put in place to make sure that this incident does not happen again.”

Security meeting

The meeting was attended by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Yayale Ahmed; the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Adetokunbo Kayode; and Mr. Sarki Mukhtar. Others in attendance included the Minister of Defence, Godwin Abbe; the Minister of Interior, Shetima Mustafa; and the Chief of Defence Staff, Marshall Paul Dike.

The three service chiefs and the Inspector-General of Police, Ogbonna Onovo, were also in attendance. Although government officials refuse to speak on the reason behind the removal of Mr. Mukhtar, there was a sense that he was one of the officers whose loyalty to the ailing Mr. Yar’Adua was affecting the ability of Mr. Jonathan to effect some needed change in power.

Mr. Mukhtar had a fairly prominent army career, culminating with his appointment as the general officer commanding the first division, Nigerian Army in Kaduna State, and the Chief of Staff of a peace keeping force in Liberia. He was one of the few serving high ranking officers in the 1990s who voiced concerns over the detention and trial of the former president, Olusegun Obasanjo and his former deputy, Shehu Yar’Adua.

Reactions

Reacting to how the Acting President, Goodluck Jonathan sacked the National Security Adviser yesterday, the chairman, Egalitarin Mission, Kayode Ajulo, said that “Again, it is like the Acting President is gradually getting the grip of steering the nation. It is a welcome development.” According to him, we should expect further changes.

“Certainly, he is like a leader that is responsive. I am not talking of responsible now. He is responsive, he may be slow at it, but it is an understanding of this kind of government, yet gradually he is doing it.”

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