From Juliana Taiwo in Abuja, 05.30.2008 (THISDAY)
Chief of Staff to President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, Major General Abdullahi Mohammed (rtd.) yesterday resigned from his position. His resignation has been accepted by the president who then appointed his Senior Special Assistant on Political Matters, Dr. Gbolade Osinowo to act as Chief of Staff until the appointment of a substantive replacement.
A statement signed by Special Adviser to the President on Communications, Olusegun Adeniyi stated that Yar’Adua in accepting Gen. Mohammed’s resignation, praised the outgoing Chief of Staff’s immense patriotism and dedication to national service.
The President thanked Mohammed for his enormous contributions to the present Administration in the past year, and to national development in the course of a remarkable public service career spanning many decades within and outside the Armed Forces.
Gen. Mohammed’s resignation is with effect from Monday, June 2, 2008.
Mohammed came into political limelight as a member of the corps of crack colonels in the army who effected the change of government in which the then Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon was toppled in a bloodless military coup and General Murtala Muhammed took over. He was then made the director general of the Nigeria Security Organisation (NSO) and later, director of military intelligence.
After General Obasanjo handed over to elected civilians in 1979, Muhammed retired from the army and went into private business. He was managing director of Atoto Press in Ilorin, his home town.
He was recalled from retirement in 1998 when General Abdusalami Abubakar took over as head of state following the demise of General Sani Abacha. Muhammed served as national security adviser to that government. When former President Olusegun Obasanjo was elected, he retained General Muhammed and made him chief of staff.
Yar'Adua also re-appointed him as Chief of Staff when he assumed office on May 29, 2007, meaning that he had spent close to a decade in the presidency serving three leaders.
Some analysts believed he was retained by Yar'Adua on the basis that he would help to achieve smooth transition between the Obasanjo Presidency and its succeeding administration. He is reputed to have served as institutional memory for Yar'Adua in the running of government in the past one year.
His reappointment by Yar'Adua was also said to be the government’s way of staving off the pressure from politicians including former governors and ministers seeking to be appointed into the position which has now become more influential than many other non-elected key offices in government.
He was said to have agreed to serve for only six months in the present administration before retiring. Then, Dr Tanimu Yakubu Kurfi, a close confidant of President Yar'Adua was appointed deputy chief of staff to understudy Muhammed and subsequently take over.
Kurfi was later moved out of Aso Rock to become special adviser on economic affairs to the president. With his deep involvement in economic issues on behalf of the president, Kurfi may not be interested in administrative issues now.
With Gen Muhammed's exit from the presidency, it is believed that one of the last old guards of the Obasanjo presidency has now left. But the man appointed to act as chief of staff before the appointment of a substantive holder, Osinowo, also came to the presidency through Obasanjo who appointed him as a senior special assistant in 1999.