There was confusion within government circles in Abuja yesterday over purported resignation of General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau from his new post as Minister of Defence.
An online news platform, Sahara Reporters, yesterday reported that that Gusau, who assumed duty late last week had resigned from his new post.
According to the news medium, the retired general had resigned in protest over alleged gross insubordination by the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Air Chief Marshal Alex Badeh, and the three service chiefs-chiefs of Army (Lt. General Kenneth Minimah), Air Force (Air Vice Marshal Adesola Amosu) and Naval staff (Vice Admiral Usman Jibrin)-who assumed duty a few weeks before him.
According to Sahara Reporters, the top echelon of the Nigerian military refused to honour a summon by Gusua to join him and his junior minister, Musiliu Obanikoro, for a meeting to deliberate on matters relating to defence and national security.
Sahara Reporters in its story said after foot-dragging for two days, only the CDS turned up for the planned meeting and when Gusau said he was expecting all the service chiefs, Badeh allegedly told him there was no need and that he alone would have the meeting with the minister’s and get back to the others.
But the Presidency, in a statement issued by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Reuben Abati, denied the online medium’s report, saying it was not true.
Similarly, the Federal Ministry of Defence, in a statement issued by its Director, Press, Shehu Maikai, dismissed the purported resignation of Gusau as untrue.
Curiously, however, the general was not at yesterday’s Federal Executive Council, and he was not also reported to have been on a special assignment outside Abuja.
According to the statement issued by Abati: “Lt.-General Gusau remains in office as Minister of Defence. His absence from today’s (yesterday’s) meeting of the Federal Executive Council which was cited in support of the false report of his resignation was with the permission of President Goodluck Jonathan”.
The statement by the presidential spokesperson further heightened the anxiety in public, more so that it neither addressed the purported insubordination by the top military officers nor specifically stated why Gusau stayed away from the Council meeting.
Also denying the Sahara Reporters story, the Ministry of Defence, said the rumour posted on the social network was false, “and we wish to state, categorically, that the minister has not resigned his appointment”.
But the apparent gaps in the two statements stirred up further curiosity more so that the online platform’s report had alleged that both President Goodluck Jonathan and Senate President David Mark were putting tremendous pressure on the retired military general to withdraw his ‘resignation’ letter.
Gusau had himself in a terse response to enquiries by Hausa service of the BBC said he had not resigned.