Written by Abubakar A. Ibrahim & Ahmad Salkida:
An attempt by Acting President Gooodluck Jonathan to sack the Aide-de-Camp and Chief Security Officer of President Umaru Yar’adua last week has been resisted by Turai Yar’adua, the ailing president’s wife. This is coming in the wake of Jonathan’s bold move to dissolve the cabinet constituted by Yar’adua in an attempt to consolidate his hold on power.
Sunday Trust gathered that Turai opposed the move to sack the president’s aides on grounds that she had no idea how to explain the sack to a recuperating Yar’adua. She also raised concerns over what people might say should anything happen to the president in the event of the sack of his trusted aides.
Jonathan, it was learnt, has been uncomfortable with the duo of Colonel Mustapha Onudieva, Yar’adua’s ADC, who hails from Edo State and the CSO, Yusuf Tilde, who was the Director General of the State Security Service in Katsina State while Yar’adua was governor. The development arose from the duo’s stance on the occasion of the President’s return, February 24, under the cover of darkness.
Hours after Yar’adua’s return from a three-month sojourn in a Saudi hospital, Col. Onudieva positioned himself behind Yar’adua’s seat in anticipation of Yar’adua chairing that day’s Federal Executive Council meeting. That chair had been occupied by Jonathan since he was advanced to act as president by the Nigerian legislature. A potential clash was averted when neither Yar’adua nor Jonathan turned up for the meeting, which was eventually cancelled. It was not clear at the time if the aides would have prevented Jonathan from taking the president’s seat had he attempted to.
The two men have also been playing a key role in keeping Yar’adua away from public officials since his return. A source disclosed that this stance earned the duo the wrath of the acting president who had since wanted them out. The sack would have had dangerous implications to the person of Yar’adua considering the roles the two aides play. A presidency source disclosed to Sunday Trust that the absence of the ADC and CSO makes the president vulnerable as it implies he is no longer a state property but a property of himself and his family.
The ADC, in the Nigerian context, has always been a preserve of the military especially in the last 10 years. President Shehu Shagari is known to have used a policeman as an ADC.
The ADC is usually a ceremonial post where an individual occupying the post is attached to a very important personality (VIP) and takes care of the VIP’s protocols, stands behind him, holds his files and phones and review his domestic messages whether official or personal.
The CSO on the other hand is charged with the VIP’s physical security and is always on duty 24 hours. He is usually a highly trained spy who takes charge of co-ordinating the VIP’s security and, unlike the ADC who may be absent sometimes, he is always with the VIP in all circumstances.
Sunday Trust sources in the presidency disclosed that there have been separate meetings between Acting President Jonathan and Hajiya Turai as well as Yar’adua’s mother, Hajiya Dada. The two women also reportedly met the new National Security Adviser (NSA) General Aliyu Gusau (rtd) but details of both meetings have not been disclosed.
The influence of General Gusau, an old spy master, is gradually coming to fore as it emerged that he played a major role in Jonathan’s decision to dissolve the cabinet, Wednesday March 17. Sunday Trust gathered that Jonathan was encouraged by the NSA to dissolve the cabinet based on intelligence he claimed to have gathered from Saudi Arabia that Yar’adua may not recover enough to return to office. The president has been diagnosed with pericarditis, a heart condition resulting from the inflammation of the pericardium – a membrane which encloses the heart. It is known that there is just a recovery window of three months after which it is feared the victim might never recover. Yar’adua has been suffering from the ailment since November last year and prior to that; he has been known to suffer kidney infection and his health as always been a subject of discourse even while he was governor of Katsina State.
This information, Sunday Trust gathered, emboldened Jonathan to effect the cabinet sack. It is expected that the new cabinet to be constituted will have a larger number of Jonathan loyalists who may move to make him a substantive president and consolidate his hold on power in the run-up to next year’s general elections.
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