Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Nigerian News Blog | Where Are the President Obasanjo's Friends

Yesterday, Lt Gen. Aliyu Gusau (rtd), the only man standing amongst the musketeers or ‘Council of Elders,’ that teamed up in 1998 to persuade President Olusegun Obasanjo to run for the office of President, left his administration as National Security Adviser (NSA), a job he faithfully carried out in the last seven years.

Gusau’s exit left behind Chief Tony Anenih, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees chairman as the only man in that original team still in Obasanjo’s kitchen cabinet.

Gusau was perhaps the originator of the campaign to draft Obasanjo to the presidential contest in 1998 when the Abdulsalam Abubakar regime unfolded its transition programme for returning the country to a civilian, democratic dispensation. Gusau reached out to his friend General Ibrahim Babangida, ex-military president, as well as the Alhaji Atiku Abubakar led Yar’Adua Group known as the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) that provided the political structure which helped Obasanjo move round the country to contest the elections with minimum hassle.

Gusau was also said to have sold the Obasanjo candidacy to the Abubakar regime, a situation that made the Obasanjo for president project a fait accompli, since he was seen in many quarters as the official candidate of the military. To even seal this unwritten pact, the former Director of Military Intelligence and Chief of Army Staff was at the head of operations where he supervised the wheels and deals that eventually brought Obasanjo to power. In that campaign machinery, Lt. Gen Theophilus Danjuma (rtd) was incharge of fund raising while General Babangida was actively networking for the group. On the field, the PDM unleashed its foot soldiers who went round the country campaigning, preaching and disseminating the OBJ For President mantra.

At one end was Chief Tony Anenih who, because of his ability to settle naughty issues, providing a smooth playing field for the campaign machinery, was christened ‘Mr. Fix It.’ It was therefore not surprising to political pundits that among the first set to make the new president’s key appointments was the Zamfara born Gusau who clinched the job of NSA.

Yesterday, however, was a sad note and end for those sentiments and hopes built on an elder statesman and a friend to whom much was given, with the expectation that at the end of eight years, those who rallied to make the position possible would look back with minimum regret. Gusau’s exit, no doubt, is an anti-climax that completes the circle of the old brigade of friends now turned enemy of the president. According to Aso Rock sources, Gusau left in circumstances which left a sour taste in the mouth. Gusau’s exit is only a continuum of the massive loss of the president’s friends, admirers and sponsors, a phenomenon that is yet to abate at different levels.

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