From ISMAIL OMIPIDAN:
Deposed emir of Gwandu and former ADC to former Head of State, Major- General Mohammad Buhari (rtd), Major Al-Mustapha Jokolo (rtd), seldom grants press interviews. But each time he does, he comes out smoking, sparing no one or issue in the process.
After about one year of persuasion, he reluctantly granted Sunday Sun an exclusive interview last Friday on topical national issues, most importantly on the return of Aliyu Gusau, former National Security Adviser, NSA to IBB and Obasanjo, to the corridors of power.
He told Sunday Sun that he wished he could be spared from all these discussions about politics in Nigeria because if one had listened to his Voice of America (VOA) interview, which he granted recently, one would know that he had a total condemnation especially for Northern leaders. He insisted that the “present crop of leaders, Aliyu Gusau inclusive, to me, they are, they were and they will always mean disaster for Nigeria. The point I am making here is that they are only after power for their own interest, not for the interest of Nigeria, not for the interest of anybody. Take Gusau for instance, look at his antecedents; he was Director, Military Intelligence, then he became Director of Defence Intelligence, after that he became Coordinator of National Security, he became GOC sometimes and then Commandant, NDA, and he came back as National Security Adviser.
“After the coup of 1985, he became GOC, Commandant NDA and later as National Security Adviser to Babangida. After they relinquished power in 1993, he was made Chief of Army Staff, and incidentally after his latest appointment I read in one of the dailies that the Service Chiefs and the I.G and everybody will report to him. Whoever is saying that must have a low level of intelligence. Constitutionally, Service Chiefs and IGP cannot report to him. One, we have the minister of defence and minister of police affairs who are cabinet members, and they are superior to the National Security Adviser who is just an Adviser. A minister is superior to National Security Adviser, to any Adviser for that mater, so how can they report to another adviser when they have their own ministers. Even in America where we copied our democracy from, you have Service Chiefs, you have Joint Chief of Staff which is equivalent to our Chief of Defence Staff, you have the Army, Navy, Air force and Marine Corps Commandants. They are independent people and they answer directly to the President himself sometimes.
“So you see, all these routine is a plan to accumulate power, which is the whole idea, to concentrate power in one person for their plan later. This man has never been trained in intelligence, he has never been trained one day as an intelligent officer, not one day and there is no coup-d’etat that he did not take part in. He was the one who financed the coup against Shagari as his Director of Military Intelligence, DMI. Then as the Director of Defence Intelligence, he was part of the coup against Buhari, and there was an attempt on Babangida himself which he had knowledge of, which has not been reported. Gusau was the one who brought Shonekan to Babangida to take over as the Interim Head of State but with him again as Chief of Army Staff with Abacha, they threw him (Shonekan) out. Abacha, aware of Gusau’s antecedents, decided to boot him out; and after Abacha threw him out, he went into obscurity. Every one of them dared not open their mouth during Abacha’s time. They all went underground. But when Abacha died, they resurfaced, manipulating again like they are doing now. They manipulated our system,” Jokolo said.
He spoke on other issues, including the need to allow the South have a go at the Presidency in 2011, if all the north has is to recycle its retired Generals.
Only recently Nigerians witnessed the return of General Aliyu Gusau (rtd) to the corridors of power, what does that portend for our politics especially as we prepare for 2011 election?
I wish I could keep my self away from all these discussions about politics in Nigeria because if you had listened to my Voice of America (VOA) interview, you would have heard that I had a total condemnation especially for Northern leaders. I believe, except for a few, all our leaders here are self centered, egocentric, selfish and dishonest.
All, not one of them will I spare. But if I have to make exception, that will be only for people like, of course, the Sardauna of Sokoto and his colleagues like Tafawa Balewa, Kashim Ibrahim and their generation. Coming down near our generation, General Hassan, General Murtala and Shehu Yar’Adua and people like Justice Bello and late Justice Mamman Bello. These are very few people that served and were fair in their own capacity whether as politicians, military leaders or jurists. But come to our present crop of leaders, Aliyu Gusau inclusive, to me, they are, they were and they will always mean disaster for Nigeria.
Why did you say so?
How on earth can somebody hold one appointment 3-4 times, (hesitates). Look at the first time he became the NSA, it was in 1985 when they took over from our regime, Buhari/Idiagbon, he became the Coordinator of National Security, and as Coordinator for National Security, during the time there were three coup attempts against Babangida. One, by the Vatsa group around December, 1985. The second was by the Orkar group, and thirdly by one quietly unknown chap, they called Akinyemi, a signal officer who was sentenced to about 10 years in imprisonment.
And within that time also, that was when they destroyed the image of our national security by exposing our only security organ, the NSO, Nigeria Security Organization, the parastatal that became SSS and NIA. They exposed it to the public by allowing the press to go and take pictures of our security organization. They ridiculed the officers there, a professional like Horsefall, who was deputy to Rafindadi who was the NSO was so bitter but he stood his ground and refused to budge.
The point I am making here is that they are only after power for their own interests, not for the interest of Nigeria, not for the interest of anybody. Take Gusau for instance, look at his antecedents; he was Director, Military Intelligence, then he became Director of Defence Intelligence, after that he became Coordinator of National Security, he became GOC sometimes and then Commandant, NDA, and he came back as National Security Adviser.
“After the coup of 1985, he became GOC, Commandant NDA and later as National Security Adviser to Babangida. After they relinquished power in 1993, he was made Chief of Army Staff, and incidentally after his latest appointment I read in one of the dailies that the Service Chiefs and the I.G and everybody will report to him.
Whoever is saying that must have a low level of intelligence. Constitutionally, Service Chiefs and IGP cannot report to him. One, we have the minister of defence and minister of police affairs who are cabinet members, and they are superior to the National Security Adviser who is just an Adviser. A minister is superior to National Security Adviser, to any Adviser for that mater, so how can they report to another adviser when they have their own ministers. Even in America where we copied our democracy from, you have Service Chiefs, you have Joint Chief of Staff which is equivalent to our Chief of Defence Staff, you have the Army, Navy, Air force and Marine Corps Commandants. They are independent people and they answer directly to the President himself sometimes.
“So you see, all these routine is a plan to accumulate power, which is the whole idea, to concentrate power in one person for their plan later. This man has never been trained in intelligence, he has never been trained one day as an intelligent officer, not one day and there is no coup-d’etat that he did not take part in. He was the one who financed the coup against Shagari as his Director of Military Intelligence, DMI. Then as the Director of Defence Intelligence, he was part of the coup against Buhari, and there was an attempt on Babangida himself which he had knowledge of, which has not been reported. Gusau was the one who brought Shonekan to Babangida to take over as the Interim Head of State but with him again as Chief of Army Staff with Abacha, they threw him (Shonekan) out. Abacha, aware of Gusau’s antecedents, decided to boot him out; and after Abacha threw him out, he went into obscurity. Every one of them dared not open their mouth during Abacha’s time. They all went underground. But when Abacha died, they resurfaced, manipulating again like they are doing now. They manipulated our system.
Obasanjo was in prison for treason, I am not going to qualify whether it was right or wrong, whether it was true or not, I can’t say, but one thing I know he was convicted and he went to prison. They brought him out of prison, gave him pardon without considering his other colleagues. They then funded him and took him around against other interests and made Obasanjo the President. The whole idea was for him to stay only for four years, and then they will come back because they had to go away in 1993 because Nigerians were fed up with them.
So, they brought Obasanjo back so that after four years he would go but Obasanjo outsmarted them. He not only went for a second term but wanted a third term and by the time he realized that they were playing foul with him, he (Obasanjo) kicked them out again. He kicked Gusau out. So if somebody was a Coordinator of National Security since 1985, ex-Director, Military Intelligence before, an office with which he carried out a coup, ex-Director of Defence Intelligence they carried out a coup, and as Coordinator on National Security and there were three coups in all, Vatsa, Orkar and Akinyemi, all these happened, yet you said this man knows much about security.
If he was that good, as National Security Adviser to Babangida, the government would not have done the very disgraceful thing it did by first of all conducting the freest and fairest election which was won by Abiola and Kingibe, only for the government to annul it.
They denied them that victory and went and brought an ex-convict and made him the President, and look at what Nigeria went through during that time and the same people; Gusau, Danjuma, Obasanjo and co were the people who manipulated the system again, and took us through the rough road of eight years of misrule ending up with a terrible election which ushered in this government. The 2007 election, everybody knows, by all standards, was the most disastrous election. Even at the Supreme Court, except for a vote of the then Chief Justice of Nigeria, only God knows where we would have been, and now because Umaru is sick, everybody is punching him.
And from what I gathered, Gusau wanted to be made Secretary in charge of Home Security like they have in America, but Umaru told him that, ‘look, I can’t, you are my elder brother.’ Now Umaru just fell sick and they are burying him alive. Shamelessly, everybody is coming out to talk of power. I am not saying that Umaru Yar’Adua is the best President or has done this or has done that. No. But what I dislike is when somebody is down you start punching him, that is irresponsible, I see them as a gang of jokers.
Including the group led by Gowon and Shagari?
You see that group led by Shagari under the leadership of Gowon, into which unfortunately they drafted our former C.J.N, two of them don’t understand the dynamics of politics in Nigeria. They were pulled in to give credibility to the group, but Gowon was smart, he didn’t go with them. He only wrote them a letter and sent Shagari and Shagari who is becoming senile, anyway, went to deliver the letter. This was the same man who just some days before then was very supportive of Umaru, and when they got in touch with him, he started leading the group against Umaru, saying that he (Umaru) should step aside, he should do this, he should do that.
But all the things that were happening before then, they never had the courage to speak up. Then you have the Northern Christian Elders’ Forum sponsored by Danjuma, funded by Danjuma, telling the President that he should remove the Chief of Army Staff, the GOC of 3rd Armoured Division in Jos, the commandant, joint task force, Commander Brigade of Guards. On what grounds? If you go by what happened during the Obasanjo’s regime, let’s look at the Army itself.
The first Chief of Army Staff was General Malu, a Christian from North Central State or Middle Belt. But Malu was not the kind of person who would toe their line, so they ejected him. They brought Ogomudia from Edo State, a Christian. He served and they promoted him to Chief of Defence Staff and they brought Martin Agwai, a Christian from Southern Kaduna, and after sometime, he did what they wanted, and they promoted him and made him Chief of Defence Staff. They now brought in Azazi, a Christian from Bayelsa State, and eventually also promoted him to Chief of Defence Staff Next was and Luka, a Christian from Kaduna State. All the IGPs that Obasanjo appointed, Smith, a Muslim alright but he is a Yoruba man from his area; second, you have Tafa Balogun, another Muslim but a Yoruba man.
I have nothing against tribe, religion or anybody; I am talking to you on what they are doing. Then after him, they brought Ehindero, another Yoruba man, a Christian, after him, they brought Okiro, an Igbo man, a Christian, then they brought Onovo, Igbo man, a Christian. Not one Hausa/Fulani in that line up and not that they are not qualified, remember that, and when Umaru came, look at all the appointment he made in the security circle. The Minister of Defence, General Abbe, from Edo State, Chief of Defence Staff, Dike from Delta, a Christian, Chief of Naval Staff from Kaduna State, Chief of Air staff from Oyo or Ondo, some where there, IGP like I said, Onovo, Director of SSS Gazama from Borno State, Director of NIA, a Yoruba man from Oyo state, Prison, Immigration, an Igbo, Civil Defence, a Yoruba man, Road Safety, an Igbo man, all these ones are Christians and they were appointed by Umaru Yar’Adua.
So there was no federal character in that thing. Gazama and the Chief of Naval staff are the only ones from the north out of all this lot. The rest are Southerners but yet the only Muslim we have as Service Chief, Northern Christians Elders Forum sponsored by Danjuma is calling for his head and this is a fine military officer. I have been a military officer myself, the best service chief that Nigeria has ever produced, he is even more qualified than Danjuma himself. What course did Danjuma attend apart from the short service course he attended somewhere?
He is not even a regular combatant officer, and he got to Staff College and he became Chief of Army Staff. But this young man is a PhD holder in criminology, he attended all the courses you can think of, he commanded divisions, he was a registrar in NDA, and he was a director staff at the War College, and the Staff College, he attended the two staff colleges. Look at his C.V, there has never been a good officer like him. But just because he is Hausa/Fulani, a Muslim, everybody is calling for his head, and he is the only person who is giving security to Nigeria now, and yet you now brought somebody who has no knowledge of security and made him the National Security Adviser the fourth time.
In the statement of handing over by Mukhtar, another fine officer with credentials that I do not need to tell you, but check and see. He is everything you can think of; GOC, Cadet Brigade Commander, intelligence provost marshal, governor in two states, and ambassador. He took over from the same Aliyu Gusau. In his statement of handing over, he said I am grateful to God that I am handing over to someone senior to me both in service and age. Did you understand the import of that statement? He is ridiculing him (Gusau).
Aliyu Gusau was regular one, NDA, and Muhktar was regular five.
There was no way Gusau saw his trail, least of all meeting him in the NDA and he was from 1985 the Coordinator of National Security which is equivalent to National Security Adviser, how many years ago? 25 years ago, is it not? And after 25 years he is now coming back to the same office as if nobody else is qualified other than him. I can give you ten officers who are better than him that should be holding that office; ten officers that are junior by far from all the tribes of Nigeria.
Would you say the Acting President has made mistake by appointing Aliyu Gusau as the NSA?
I don’t know his motive for appointing him, I don’t know, so I can’t say whether he made a mistake or not. First, remember he (Jonathan) was somebody who is always around when misfortune happens. Yes, when he was a teacher, Alameisegha made him his deputy, Alameisegha had problems, and he was made Governor, and again he was brought and made Vice president, not because people were saying he was the best or what ever, how could he have been the best even from Bayelsa but he was installed just like Umaru Yar’Adua was installed, he too was installed along with Umaru because they know Umaru was very sick.
That was Obasanjo’s trick. Unfortunately for him when he started enjoying the paraphernalia of office, enjoying the title of the Presidency, sitting on the seat of the President, feeling comfortable, thinking of when his wife will become the first lady, suddenly Umaru landed on Tuesday night or early hours of Wednesday night, so there was pandemonium, soldiers were at the airport and people started making noise out of it.
(Cuts in) You mean it was right to have deployed soldiers without Jonathan’s knowledge?
Soldiers would be at the airport because the Commander, Brigade of Guards takes instructions from Chief Security Officer, CSO to the President. So, even if Goodluck Jonathan is the Acting President, we still have a substantive President who has his CSO with him, who the Brigade of Guards is answerable to, and remember, they always blame other people because they don’t know the workings of the military. Brigade of Guards is a brigade that is answerable only to the Presidency through the ADC who is a military man or the CSO to the President. But the Chief of Army Staff will not give orders to them. He will not deploy them.
He will appoint them after clearing with the Presidency, like the President will appoint Auditor-General or Chairman, EFCC but he can’t remove them because it has to be approved by the National Assembly and if he appoints Auditor-General and he finds him stealing money, he will not spare him even though he appointed him. He is the one who appointed Chief Justice of the Federation, and the Chief Justice was now trying to say he didn’t win election, he should get out. So Commander, Brigade of Guards can be appointed by the Chief of Army Staff but that doesn’t mean that he can exercise operational control over the Commander of Brigade of Guards. He does not, because the Commander of Brigade of Guards has access to every point in the State House. The Chief of Army Staff has no such access even to the gate of the State House. He has to get clearance to pass the first gate even if he is a field marshal.
The Chief of Defence Staff, cannot go to the State House without clearance but the Commander; Brigade of Guards doesn’t have his name on the visitors’ list.
He could go anywhere within the State House without clearance, and if the President is traveling, the Commander Brigade of Guards will always accompany him. There are certain things that are peculiar to the military.
The ADC may be a junior officer, but he is very powerful. I’ll give you an example. There was one time when I was ADC to the Head of State, Buhari. We came to Kaduna here and my seat was always behind his seat. There was a function in the State House, Kaduna, I was supposed to be seated behind him, but General Adeniyi came and sat down on the seat.
As at then he was the Director-General DICON; so I had to sit between two chairs but I was not directly behind the Head of State. I did not say anything. I just sat down there. I did not complain but later I got to know that a query was sent from the Supreme Headquarters to the General and I was only a Major then. He was asked who authorized him to sit where I was supposed to sit.
He had to explain himself who authorized him. A General had to explain himself for sitting where a Major was supposed to sit. So you do not understand how the military operates. Do you just come and start saying that they should remove Chief of Army Staff because he deployed soldiers, something that he didn’t have to know because the movement of the President is not necessarily within his purview. So if you talk about Jonathan now appointing Gusau as NSA maybe because the party and the governors decided that Jonathan will not run in 2011.
But if I were Jonathan, I have been Vice President; I have tasted Acting Presidency and going to be nobody next year, so I should start thinking of what to do. What am I going to do? Am I going into the employment market as a former President? And what am I going to be called? So if I were Jonathan, I will start thinking of how I am going to make sure I become President in spite of all my party said because that is what I will do. He is a Nigerian like anybody else, he has been Vice President, and he was elected Vice President so why should somebody say he cannot be President? And you think he will sit down and fold his arms and look like a fool with all the powers available to him, dissolve the executive council, to appoint advisers, to appoint everybody. But then whether Jonathan is right to have appointed somebody like Aliyu Gusau is a different matter, because when you put a green snake under your seat and you are bitten or stung or whatever it does to you, you should be held responsible because you are the architect of your own problem.
Are you saying Gusau can kick Jonathan aside?
You see, like I said, I don’t speculate, but remember Aliyu Gusau has antecedents, he wanted this (Presidency) position and how are you sure that he was not behind what they are saying that Jonathan should not be President. How sure are you? I think whether he made a mistake or not, honestly only Jonathan can answer that. What is his motive for appointing him? But as far as I am concerned, I just want them to know that Nigeria has come of age and nobody should think of playing the trick they played on us some 20, 30 years ago. Nobody is going to accept it.
We are not going to accept it, and we have this Save Nigeria Group, unless they are being unnecessarily sectional, otherwise the group must rise to the occasion.
I say so because it was surprising to see Soyinka now lead a group to come to Abuja and start making noise about Umaru’s sickness. What did he do when Obasanjo misruled us for eight years, why did he do the same thing in Lagos or in Abuja? Why didn’t he bring all the OPC, everybody to come to Abuja and tell Obasanjo that he has been doing something wrong? Why didn’t he do that?
But the South west criticized him, and Soyinka was one of those always raising his voice against Obasanjo. So it …
(Cuts in) Criticizing my foot! Why didn’t he come to Abuja like he did? Think of any northerner going to Lagos to do that to Obasanjo. Even though the Yoruba disowned Obasanjo, what did they say? They said if anybody touched him Nigeria would break, go to pieces. Look at Jonathan too, as Vice President they burnt his house in Bayelsa, now the militants are saying that if we don’t give him chance to be President they are going to blow up more pipe lines and they are going to declare war on the rest of us. What is this nonsense? So why can’t we come now and say since Aliyu Gusau is Muslim, is a northerner, nobody should criticize him. We are going to accept him or Buhari, why shouldn’t I go with my own? No! We are above that, we have people who are not parochial, we are going to start thinking of Nigeria not our selfish interest and I hope you too will do the same because some of you are not even doing that.
There is a particular paper; everyday it attacks northerner, Hausa/Fulani, I am Hausa/Fulani, I am a northerner, I am a Muslim and if you attack my religion, you are an enemy, if you attack my geography where I come from, you are an enemy, if you attack whatever I belong to, you are an enemy. I will not accept that. And I am not ashamed of being a Muslim. I am proud to be one, I thank God I am a Muslim, and I am not ashamed of being Hausa/Fulani, I am proud to be one because to me they are a fantastic race. I am grateful to God I am from the north. Whatever you say of us, say the correct thing, not with a jaundiced mind, nobody should insult us, and you better pass this message to your paper there.
Finally sir, what is your take on the incessant crisis in Jos?
Jos crisis is something that makes my heart bleed. I believe the crisis was being sponsored from somewhere, because Jos used to be a very peaceful place. And the Christians and Muslims lived together peacefully. If you recall very well, we started having crisis in Jos as a result of the power play by certain individuals, who were in power. They just create unnecessary animosity, disaffection and confuse us by making us fight each other so that they can retain power.
We have the National Inter-Religious Council, where we have two leaders, the Sultan of Sokoto and the CAN President. We were for some years together. We came to understand each other to the extent that someone like the present President of CAN, Archbishop Onaiyekan would always speak his mind, the truth against anybody irrespective of who you are, whether you are a Christian or Muslim. And the same for Archbishop Ola Makinde. I think he is in Lagos now, and one Archbishop Achigili, from Benue State and Professor Obaje. These were people who we worked with, who will speak the truth no matter who is involved. Even among the Muslims, we never spared ourselves. I will give you an example. There was a time one of the Sheiks, in one of our meetings, Sheik Lemu made a statement that if you perform ablution, it will cleanse you of your sins. I said no, I don’t agree with you. If I steal your car now, and I raped your daughter, I cut off your son’s head and go and perform ablution, does that cleanse me of all these sins? He kept quiet.
Then, late Justice Bashir Sambo came in and said ablution only cleanses minor sins like looking at a woman twice or something of that nature, but not major sins. And the man was unhappy with me. So he came to my room later to say how could I disgrace him like that? I said no, you want to disgrace Islam. How can you as a Sheik make that kind of submission? I am not a Mallam, I am not a sheik but I have a little knowledge of Islam, so I cannot accept that.
There was also a time when Archbishop Achigili shouted down one Bishop at our meeting, saying the Bishop was talking rubbish. I can’t remember what the issue was. But we were all amazed that he did that. So when you have such a people leading in Nigeria, why should anybody be allowed to cause disaffection among our people? We have Lagos, Ogun, Ibadan, where Muslims and Christians live peacefully together. Why should we start killing ourselves in the north? What do we gain from that? I am sad that we are doing this to ourselves, and this is what they (sponsors) are making us to do to ourselves.
But somehow, Kaduna has become peaceful now, and I think Kano too is becoming peaceful, so let’s have peace in Jos. If you kill somebody who has not offended you, you will answer to that from God, whether you are a Christian or Muslim. Islam does not support terrorism or violence. And in Christianity, they say if they slap you, turn the other cheek. So a good Christian should not retaliate even if you have been offended. So let’s have peace in Jos. And I think Governor Jang has a big role to play in that respect. I won’t say more than that.
•To be continued next week
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