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Ex-general takes charge of Nigeria defence ministry

05 March 2014, 16:50

Abuja - Ex-army general Mohammed Gusau formally took charge of Nigeria's defence ministry on Wednesday, a choice analysts said may lead to a change in strategy in the raging battle against Boko Haram.

The defence post had been vacant since June 2012, when President Goodluck Jonathan sacked Mohammed Bello following a spate of deadly attacks by the Islamist insurgents.

Gusau, a former chief of army staff, has twice served as Nigeria's national security advisor, including from 1999 to 2006.

He was reappointed as NSA in 2010 but later quit to challenge Jonathan for the ruling party's nomination ahead of 2011 elections.

While his relationship with the president was said to be strained, analysts suggested Jonathan selected Gusau because his intelligence expertise was needed in reshaping strategy to defeat the Islamist rebels who have already killed 500 this year.

"What we have seen is that the Nigerian military cannot defeat Boko Haram with just force," Professor Dapo Thomas, of Lagos State University told AFP. "It is all about intelligence now.

"Because of [Gusau's] background, I cannot think of a better candidate for the defence post," the political and security expert said.

Jonathan replaced his entire military top brass in January and the military has issued statements promising various new strategies to combat the Islamists.

But the violence has continued at a relentless pace.

Secondary school students and other civilians have been slaughtered in a range of attacks this year blamed on Boko Haram.

Nigeria's former ambassador to China, Aminu Wali, has meanwhile taken charge of the foreign ministry, replacing Olugbenga Ashiru who was removed last year.



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