Saturday, 25 October 2014

Minister of Defence - Gusau and National Security Adviser - Dasuki in Supremacy Battle

There is an intense supremacy battle going on between the Minister of Defence, General Mohammed Aliyu Gusau and the National Security Adviser, NSA, Colonel Sambo Dasuki.

There are strong concerns in the military that the cold war between the two top shots at the helm of the nation’s security apparatus is not only creating divisions but also hurting the country’s anti-terror war.
Saturday Sun gathered that the problem between the duo predates their appointment to serve in the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration. The issues, findings reveal, run deep into the families of both personalities.

The frosty relationship was further strained when in 2012 Dasuki initiated an investigation, after his appointment as NSA, to probe a N6 billion contract for the procurement of six K38 patrol boats for the Nigeria Army.

The probe was said to have led to the interrogation of two Israeli security consultants, Shay Tal and David Maman who allegedly fingered Gusau as the shadowy promoter of a company, Hypertech (UK) Ltd which got the contract for the supply of the Army patrol boats without supplying them.
Sources close to Gusau said though the Minister has no direct relationship with the company, Dasuki had in an attempt to get at him, summoned him for interrogation over statements allegedly made by the two Israelis, an invitation he ignored till date.

Sources close to both parties revealed that for months, both engaged in various covert moves to undermine each other and this went on till Gusau was appointed Minister of Defence in March this year.
Saturday Sun gathered that the appointment of Gusau opened another frontier in the raging battle between the two retired military officers; that is the battle for the soul of President Jonathan who is the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.

Apart from that, the two elephants are also battling on who takes over the Nigerian military and the ongoing operations against the Boko Haram insurgents in the North East part of the country.
Reliable sources within the military revealed how the duo have equally been trying to claim victory over the military operations at the expense of each other. The friction has also divided the service chiefs, forcing them to align with either of the two sides.

Saturday Sun further gathered that while the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshall Alex Badeh is in the camp of the NSA, the Chief Of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Kenneth Minimah, Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin, and the Chief of Air Staff (CAS), Air Marshall Amosu, have struggled to remain non-aligned.

Between the two camps, there has also been a raging battle over who controls procurement of arms and equipment for the military. This has led to talks that the weapons being used for the North East operations were sub-standard and attributing the ineffectiveness of the operations to non-availability of sophisticated weapons in the inventory of the military.

This, Saturday Sun learnt, was to ensure that the acquisition of weapons for the Armed Forces was removed from the control of the Ministry of Defence and the Services and put solely under the office of the NSA. Military sources say the request from the office of the NSA, to commence the purchase of arms for the military has since been approved by the presidency. One of the fallouts, was the recent seizure of about $15 million in two tranches by the South African authorities. The funds meant for the purchase of arms were later signed off by the NSA as the end user.

Sources in the Services complain that while the NSA and the CDS have successfully put everything in place to ensure the Defence Headquarters oversees the entire North East operations thus making the president to believe that the insurgency war would soon be over.

To ensure those on ground do not report the exact situation they are being confronted with, the duo were also accused of making it difficult for those on the field to report the actual development on the battle front like the JTF days, by appointing only the Director Defence Information to speak on the operations.
This decision, Saturday Sun gathered is not going down well with men of the Services who are of the opinion that the DHQ, does not contribute troops since it does not have anything to contribute and should not have any business talking about their operations.

The appointment of the DDI, as the only one to speak on military operations in the North East, it was further gathered has resulted in the DHQ making terrible blunders and having to retract them on several occasions.
On the political front, the two camps have equally been mobilising opinion leaders to speak in their favour at the expense of each other. Only last week, some groups named the PDP National Strategy group and the Public Affairs Youth Forum threatened to defect from the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) unless President Jonathan calls the NSA, Col. Dasuki to order over his frosty relationship with the Defence Minister, Gusau.

While expressing dismay over the cold war, the groups insist that unless President Jonathan intervenes, the development might not augur well for national security. The groups, in an open letter to President Jonathan signed by their National Coordinator, Abdullahi Umar Ladan said they were disturbed by the development and might even consider leaving the PDP if the situation is not properly handled.

According to them, “we are political groups of the PDP who have branches in 19 Northern states of Nigeria. The PDP youth forum has been known to be at the vanguard of your leadership, enlightening Nigerians on the noble ideals of the administration.

“As youth leaders in these states, who believe in the administration’s transformation initiatives, we call on President Goodluck Jonathan to prevail on the National Security Adviser (NSA) on the way and manner he has been disgracing our elder, the Minister of Defence, General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau. The NSA needs to understand the critical importance of his office and, therefore, should try to steer clear of politics since he is not occupying a political office.”

Same way, Ijaw national leader, Chief Edwin Clark had spoken against the appointment of Gusau. As the supremacy battle rages, no doubt the NSA appears to be having an upper hand at the moment but beyond that, the immediate victims are men of the Armed Forces who are already grumbling and the national security.

While officials of the DHQ and Ministry of Defence declined to comment on the development on the grounds that the issue was too sensitive to speak on, media aide to the NSA, Kunle Karounwi promised to provide a response when contacted severally on Wednesday and Thursday but up till the time of going to press, he is yet to.

The Sun Newspaper