NSA: Who the cap fits? By Ibrahim Bello


Since President Muhammadu Buhari, in a meeting with some traditional rulers from southern extraction, said there is need to change the security architecture of the country, the social media and the security and intelligence space have been awash with insinuations as to who and who are qualified or may be favoured to handle the frightening security conundrum threatening the nation.

Knowing that the office of the National Security Adviser may not be left out like the Service Chiefs, there is already growing discuss as to persons that may jostle for the top security positions.

Names of contenders currently flying but unconfirmed include the incumbent NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd), former Interior minister, Lt. General Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd), Major General SD Aliyu (rtd), and Ambassador Ahmed Rufai.

It is that time of democratic reign when appointments are made and loyalists rewarded for their unflinching supports or loyalties to the ‘powers that be’.

Interestingly, some high profile names have been dropped from that list and while new ones are being adopted, some are trying to remain relevant in politics and look at the slightest opportunity to explore.

Unfortunately, the past could catch up with some of them and history will be the mirror to judge if they deserve positions in today’s political space.

President Buhari has been somewhat quiet about the re-nomination and reappointment of his National Security Adviser, Maj Gen Babagana Monguno (rtd) even though Mr Monguno’s name, far and above other names, is on the lips of every discerning minds, especially within military environment.

Appointed on July 13, 2015, as the National Security Adviser in Mr Buhari’s first term, replacing embattled Sambo Dasuki, Mr Monguno, before his retirement in 2013, was Chief of Nigeria’s Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) from July 2009 to 2011. His last assignment in the army was Commander, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) from January to September 2013.

As NSA, Mr Monguno has witnessed the worst of terrorist battles when his village in Borno State was temporarily captured by the Boko Haram, his brevity along with the energetic members of the Nigerian Army, within days, retook that territory in a coordinated air and ground attacks.

At a time when the fragile unity of Nigeria was on the brink, the ability of Mr Monguno to speak the three major languages fluently including Idoma could pass as an asset. Indeed, this asset was extensively deployed to good use as he was at home with all military chiefs and speaking their local dialects. A clear example of this asset: At the war fronts, according to an impeccable source, some of the soldiers were said to have approached Mr Monguno, speaking in their dialect and explaining challenges being faced. His understanding of Yoruba language makes even an easier communication with the Ekiti State born Chief of Defence Staff, Major General Abayomi Olonisakin, the same with Mr Buratai, the chief of army staff, who is a northern extraction, like himself.

Unlike other military chiefs, Mr Monguno work’s is unseen, because it is strategic. It is far more important than all the military chiefs. His office as security adviser is the coordinating room between the office of the president and all security related matters in the country. These include all the military formations, purchase of all military hardware, security and safety of Nigerians both within and outside the shores of the country, curtailing smuggling within the country’s borders. The work of the office is enormous.

In one of his proactive moves to foster national security and economy, when it was discovered that fertilizer was being used to manufacture Improvised Explosive Device (IED) by terrorists, he immediately put a stop to it.

Without discountenancing the credibility of other speculated contenders, Mr Monguno’s efforts in helping President Buhari to stabilise the country cannot go unnoticed. He might not be often seen or talking on the pages of newspapers, just like Buhari, but the military, especially within its hierarchy will give a thumbs up for his professionalism, understanding and detribalized nature.

Lt Gen Abdurrahman Danbazau (rtd)

While he was Chief of Army Staff between 2008 and 2010, Mr Dambazzau was investigated for corruption during his tenure as COAS, though not indicted. He is alleged to be lobbying through some Arab leaders from Middle East whose views President Buhari greatly respects and appreciates to speak on his behalf.

Buba Marwa (rtd)

The former military administrator of Lagos and current chairman, Committee on Drug Abuse, is also tipped as a likely successor. Mr Marwa is reported to be relying on his relationship with a close ally to the president to get the top job.

Major General SD Aliyu (rtd)

Maj Gen SD Aliyu, alleged to be an ally of former Vice President Abubakar Atiku, is also part of the struggle for the NSA office. He was among the army officers allegedly involved in the Dasukigate when he was the Nigerian Defence Attaché to China.

Lt Gen Tukur Buratai

The current Chief of Army Staff is said to be also jostling for the same office when he exits his current office which observers say he has overstayed. There were a series of complaints from different quarters within his constituent that the Army chief is the longest-serving Chief of Army Staff which they say is against the tradition of the institution.

There were a series of corruption allegations levelled against him at the beginning of his tenure especially the Dubai Property scandal which he claimed was owned by his family. The explanation, nevertheless, did not really clear suspicion the public had about him.

AVM Usman

The current Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI) is also said to be currently pursuing the position. The agency he is heading is alleged to be underperforming.

Ahmed Rufa’i

The current Director National Intelligence Agency, Ahmed Rufa’I, is also target for the plum job. Until his current job, he was the secretary to Babagana Kingibe’s committee which reviewed findings of the vice president’s committee on about $43 million found by EFCC in an apartment belonging to the wife of the former DG NIA. His appointment at that time was greeted with some criticisms by the reading public.

Lawal Daura

Lawal Daura left his office as Director, State Security Service, unceremoniously. He is alleged to be lobbying through the President of the Niger Republic to speak with the president on his behalf.

It remains to be seen how and who the president chooses in view of the various competencies and baggages each of the contenders carries.



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