Sunday, 9 October 2016

How Not To Be NSA – By Abu Duniya

Unfortunately there is no body of document that one can resort to in defining what the tasks of a National Security Adviser (NSA) are. The job description is agreed to be what the incumbent Commander-in-Chief says it is. The responsibility is however important enough to confer automatic membership of the National Security Council as stipulated by the Constitution.

The current holder of this all important position is Mohammed Babagana Monguno, a retired Major General. It appears he has resolved to exploit the fluid definition of his role to the best personal advantage without a thought for how this affects the public perception of his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, whose sole promise to the nation is to midwife change.

Until the confounding revelations about the immediate past National Security Adviser, retired Colonel Sambo Dasuki, about how the office became clearing house for corrupt disbursement of funds meant for crucial national procurement, the position of NSA was an exalted one. Munguno would have then done well if only he had reverted to the pre-Dasuki era, when the Office of NSA was about the country and not the incumbent and his cronies.

Sadly, not only has Monguno sustained and built on the legacies of Dasuki he has gone ahead to introduce aberrations that have undermined the position to the point where Nigerians may one day question the propriety of keeping it. The office of NSA has become political than strategic.

In the past, Monguno had engaged in a power play that was as unnecessary as it was distracting, a perfect equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns. The NSA had his tiff with the Director General Department of State Service (DSS), Lawal Musa Daura. The DSS is one institution that is crucial to meeting the security objectives of the country yet the needless crisis was allowed to fester. Details of the dirty fight are disheartening enough that they would not be reproduced in this piece.

Monguno’s penchant for picking up needless quarrels was similarly demonstrated when he picked up one with the Chief of Staff to Mr President, Mr Abba Kyari. The dirty depths to which that fight sunk is equally not to be recounted. But it went on at the detriment of the nation since the NSA took his eyes off the ball making it possible for some threats of potential security breaches to grow.

The driving force for the NSA was however proven to be a desperation to protect monetary interests. He was reportedly keen on protecting his proxies who had teamed up with senior officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to extort those being investigated for possible fraudulent dealings with the previous NSA.

But for the focus of President Muhammadu Buhari, who offered all the needed support to the Military Service Chiefs, the fight against terrorism would have been a failure on account of the NSA. Suprisingly, Monguno’s link to the frustration of the anti-terror fight has to do with him exhibiting ethnic loyalty as he was reportedly wary of being seeing as acting against or killing off his ethnic stock, which contributes the larger number of Boko Haram members.

These previous clownings however paled into insignificance when viewed against the NSA’s latest undertaken. Not only is he risking making the government he serves looking bad he potentially will push Nigeria into the pariah zone, a designation that was last relevant in describing Nigeria in the dark years of Sani Abacha dictatorship.

At a time when Nigerians want further deepening of democracy, Monguno has a different idea. He probably thinks his best contribution to our nationhood is to catalyze the emergence of an hobbesian state, where might equals right and the citizens are just food for the rich and powerful.

Monguno is now writing to his foreign counterparts to provide him with information on the assets of individuals perceived to be his enemies. It would have been conceivable if his targets were the same fellow appointees he had fallen out with in the recent past. The NSA is however making a wide sweep to encompass newspaper editors, journalists, businessmen and women, ministers, federal legislators, state governors and a long list of others that makes the regime in North Korea look tame.

The impending clam down on perceived opponents is progressing even where no allegations exist to spend resources and exploit diplomatic goodwill that could have been deployed for the anti-terror efforts. Yet, these have been frittered away in pursuit of personal vendetta that has no bearing on the pressing security concerns besetting the nation.

A gentle reminder to Monguno is that national security is in need of attention. The Military might have recorded the exceptional feat of degrading Boko Haram in spite of his sabotage but Nigeria is still reeling from kidnappings, armed robbery, militancy, economic sabotage and the growing threat of terrorism from the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and other crimes.  It is sad that he feels no remorse about these ugly realities going on under his watch while he remained preoccupied with making money and fighting those perceived as obstructing his greed.

Previous experiences have shown that Monguno supremely lacks the capacity to be discerning. Even though the functions of a NSA are not expressly stated anywhere, he would do well to articulate what his roles are and stick to them. Definitely, his job description does not include creating a subsidiary dictatorship under a government that has demonstrated constant capacity to listen and be accommodating of citizens, even the dissenting ones.

The onus thus falls on President Buhari to call Monguno to order. He should hand the NSA specific lists of what his role entails because in the final analysis it is his government that would be made to look bad.

Duniya, a security expert contributed this piece from Katsina State.

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