For Gusau, Dasuki, Silence No Longer Golden, By Garba Shehu
The fight back by Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN over the USD9.3Million cash-for-arm scandal appears to be succeeding given the failure of his targets, the Minister of Defence, General Aliyu Gusau (rtd) and more particularly, the National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) to raise a defence.
There are times when silence is golden, but this is not one of such times.
In a world of carefully calibrated messages, the press statement by Rev. Musa Asake, the Secretary of the CAN and the syndicated interview by Mrs. Oritsejafor in the last few days appear designed to project the embattled CAN President as having been a victim of a set up by the Muslim leaders of the security department of government. This, as these two alleged was to discredit not only the man of God, Oritsejafor, but also the Christian religious faith in Nigeria. Both Asake and Helen are politically exposed persons, PEP, given their proximity to power and their ability to broker access.
In her published interviews Pastor Helen Oritsejafor asked a question as to why, of all the aircraft available for charter in the country, it was her husband’s jet that was chosen for this nefarious act.
Saturday Sun (Nov. 1, 2014) quoted her as saying: “The whole episode appeared as if somebody was out for some sinister joke. It’s quite obvious. Take for instance, why was it that it was Papa’s plane that would be hired? How would it be that it would be his plane of all planes in Nigeria that they needed for that mission? It’s still very baffling. Number two, it became obvious that it was orchestrated and the whole essence of it is to see how they can give him a name God has not given him, and all because he has been a very outspoken person, and he doesn’t know how to hide his feelings…
He is now paying the price for being an outspoken man, defending his people, defending Christianity in Nigeria…”
A day after this outing, the CAN Secretary released a statement calling for the resignation of the Defence Minister and the NSA. Rev. Asake. In that release, said: “The President appointed a Muslim, Col. Sambo Dasuki to replace Gen. Azazi (former NSA, now late) who was a Christian and later appointed another Muslim, Gen. Aliyu Gusau as Defence Minister with a pledge to deal ruthlessly with the Boko Haram Islamic terrorists.
“The major task handed down to Col. Dasuki and Gen. Gusau is to tackle Boko Haram insurgency, which was already threatening to spread into other regions of the country. But the question on the lips of every Nigerian Christian today is: what changes have these two military tacticians brought to bear since they were appointed? What is the wisdom of entrusting the nation’s security in the hands of two relations from the North-West?” He concluded by saying that Nigerian Christians are not longer comfortable with the continued inclusion of these two individuals in the cabinet.
First of all, I have no defence to offer for the performance or the lack of it by Col. Sambo and General Gusau, neither is it my business to go into doing that. It is common belief that when you must dine with the devil, you need a long spoon. Gusau and Sambo know this government and still made the personal decision to join it. They must live with that decision and whatever follows it.
This notwithstanding, the attack on them by CAN is at best partisan and selective considering that the armed services relevant in this war- the army, the Airforce and the Secret Services are all under non-Muslims.
Sack both Gusau and Sambo Dasuki if the President is convinced that that is the best thing to do in the interest of the country, but the least the government can do is to equally fire the heads of the army; an army that refuses to fight; the Airforce and above all, the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS who bragged to an audience that he would end the insurgency in six months. Instead of this happening, Boko Haram have been taking swathes of territory in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States. Part of this tragedy is that this defence chief has lost his home and local community to the terrorists, raising further questions on his capability to handle so many of these complex issues; timing and responsiveness to the insurgency.
The Boko Haram issue, despicable as it its, has served the Jonathan government well as a plank to deflect attention from the issue of its failure of performance, demonizing persons unknown all the time. At several points, the President had made threats to name, shame and punish the sponsors of Boko Haram but the threats had, as usual, been empty.
Following the confusion over the agreement on ceasefire with Boko Haram, a ceasefire that has demonstrably failed even before it took effect, the Defence Minister and the NSA have faced questions about their deafening silence on their role in the failed truce. How did it happen that an administrative staff of the President’s office led a discussion on an important subject as this, apparently blind-siding the Defence Minister and the NSA? What role, if any did they play? Why do both gentlemen continue to maintain silence over these issues? They must be open to scrutiny and they must accept that they cannot be above question.
On the particular issue of General Gusau, the shared opinion among many is that he caused this humiliation upon himself. What more did he need to prove after serving Nigeria and the International Community continually and so well as to earn the sobriquet of the shiniest star in the defence and security firmament on the continent?
To compound matters for him, it is clear to all that he never started on the note of the President’s favour and recent reports suggest that he is largely left without any serious work to do. More reason therefore, for the respected General to leave the government while there is still something left of his reputation to save.
Although the trading of barbs inside government, as we are witnessing between Oritsejafor, CAN on the one hand and the managers of our security on the other is not something we have not seen before, there is an absolute need on the part of Gusau and Dasuki to speak to avoid further damage on their own names and reputation.