Any moment from now the acting President of Nigeria and Commander-in-Chief, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan may succumb to pressure into sacking some top military and intelligent officers from Northern Nigeria through a deliberate smear campaign on suspicious disloyalty. According to the finding of the Economic Confidential, the pressure is being mounted by powerful groups of politicians and ethnic leaders from the South through some selected media and blog outlets.
The sectional groups under the guise of fighting for national interest want either the Minister of Defence, retired General Godwin Abbe from Niger Delta or the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshall Paul Dike an Igboman from Delta State to make the announcement.
The groups were encouraged by the visits of former American President George Bush and ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair to Goodluck in Abuja which they believe is an endorsement of superpowers for Goodluck to takeover fully. They are therefore suggesting that Jonathan should emulate the strategy employed by Olusegun Obasanjo when top Northern military officers were retired prematurely in 1999 and nothing happened.
The excuse given for the premature retirement of northern military officers during Obasanjo’s administration was that most of them were alleged to have held political appointments such as military administrators, ministers, chairmen and members of corporate bodies and public institutions.
Not only are the top military officers the target, the campaign is also geared towards removal or forced resignation of the National Security Adviser (NSA) retired General Abdullahi Sarki Mukhtar. No concrete reasons have been brought up on the need to do away with this well-respected and disciplined intelligent officer who during Abacha regime looked the Junta on the face to discredit the so-called coup attempts. He has been apolitical, always discharging his duties fearless and diligently.
The ongoing campaigns against the northern military and intelligent officers are based on suspicious allegations that the personnel still have sympathy and loyalty to the ailing president Yar’Adua who is recuperating in the Aso Villa, Abuja instead to the acting President Goodluck Jonathan.
Surprisingly one of the targets of attack is the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Abdulrahman Dambazau who is deliberately being misquoted and misrepresented by politicians for ulterior motives. Unperturbed General Dambazau has remained consistent in his advocacy against military intrusion in partisan politics. At every forum, he reminds Nigerians that the constitutional role of the Armed Forces is primarily anchored on the protection of Nigeria’s territorial integrity. He once said “Meddling in political issues does not complement our constitutional role in any way, shape or form… regardless of the imperfections of our political experiments, democracy remains the only acceptable form of governance. And as members of the Nigerian Armed Forces, we must defend it at all cost.”
At other occasions he warns members of the Armed Forces to steer clear of politics, reiterating that the current Nigerian military is mindful of its past, conscious of its present and hopeful of its future.
Apart from the campaign for the removal of the military personnel from the North, some Northerners holding some strategic positions may also be targeted for replacement. Already there is a move to replace the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs. Farida Waziri from Benue State with Professor Dora Akunyili, Minister of Information from Anambra State. Other campaigns that would follow includes demands for removal of Group Managing Director Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mohammed Sanusi Barkindo and reversal of some decisions taken by the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi on some banks.
Different anti-North groups have emerged after the declaration of Goodluck Jonathan as Acting Vice President to wage tactical and surreptitious war against Northern interests. The ultimate result of their campaigns is to lead to dismembering Nigeria as a nation. Some of the strategies they use to pass their messages including threats of secession to deny the North of oil revenue and the use of militants to destroy oil facilities in the Niger Delta region. Members of the groups are well educated and connected in the use of media, blogging and lobbying the international community. Their campaigns against ineptitude of ailing President Yar’Adua were pretext against the North comprising three regions in Nigeria.
Due to this untoward development some Northerners who were never in supports of Yar’Adua and his administration, are becoming more disenchanted by usual condemnations of the entire North for actions of individuals. Due to this development more Northerners are becoming more sympathetic to Yar’Adua plights. One of the Northern governors asks rhetorically: “Who force Yar’Adua on Nigeria knowing fully well that he has live-threatening ailment? Was it not a former President from the South?”
A retired military general from the North told the Economic Confidential that “Most of those noises coming from those groups and individuals are geared for hidden agenda and if untoward development happen they shamelessly support such or flee the country if they couldnt get favorable slots. It had happened before. If the nation fails again, politicians, media and bloggers should be blamed. The international community would never take us serious with the kind of hatred among our people”