At about 1 am. on Sunday morning, as voting by delegates at the PDP primaries was about to start, Retired General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau arrived at the stadium.
Immediately many people saw him, they knew something was going to shift in one of the candidates favour.
Lt General Gusau (retired) is not one of the Five Generals but he’s regarded as the core Man Friday of those Generals and one of the most important and feared power brokers in Nigeria. Perhaps, you won’t be wrong in calling him the sixth General. He was Chief of Army Staff during General Abacha’s tenure and was the National Security Adviser to two Presidents, OBJ and GEJ. He was also a Minister for Defence in GEJ’s last few months and was one of the stabilising forces in GEJ’s government in security circles. No one in their right senses jokes with him and he has been very loyal to the Kingmakers, preferring though to be somewhat of an adviser when called upon.
As General Gusua arrived, he had a brief conversation with some of the powerful PDP heads of delegates and later had a brief discussion with Former President Jonathan, who was going to vote Atiku anyway and then he spoke with David Mark. Then, he spoke briefly to Atiku Abubakar.
It was a message a few people had been waiting for. A message from the Generals.
They had decided to back the strongest of the candidates, switching their preference for Aminu Tambuwal in the last minute. They had ‘reviewed’ and decided that the strongest ‘ogbologbo’ to fight Buhari among the lot and save them the stress of additional gerrymandering would be Atiku Abubakar. As at that point, it wasn’t clear if Obasanjo was still sulking at Atiku or not but it was enough for Atiku that Generals Danjuma, IBB, Abdulsalami and Wushishi had finally settled on him. It was all he needed.
As whispers of this choice spread amongst key delegates, permutations changed. The Saraki camp heard of this news by 3am and a sober realisation hit the Tambuwal camp as well. The owners of the PDP and the people who steer the affairs of the country had spoken. Saraki was assured of going back to the Senate, if he wishes and getting the Senate President position again in 2019. Another promise, unclear at this time, was made to Aminu Tambuwal.
By 5 a.m., my phone buzzed.
‘It’s Atiku’ said the voice at the other end, a reliable political source.
The rest you already know.
Power. Many won’t understand.