Where is NSA Munguno?
Dr Abubakar Muhammad
Nigerians now unanimously agree on one thing– that there is insecurity in the land. Insecurity occurs when a government, faced with conflict and violence ( be it political, social, economic, or generated by organized crime ), cannot or will not ensure the protection of its citizens, organisations and institutions against threats to their well-being and prosperity of their communities.
What Nigerians disagree with is the fallacious notion that President Muhammadu Buhari is aiding the bandits to maim, extort and kill, and tacitly supporting terrorists to Islamize Nigeria. The President in all honesty is not a happy man; there is no way he will be comfortable seeing his citizens petrified like the way they are being terrorized by criminal elements. My disappointment is with those lucky officials the President appointed to help him to govern this country. The President knows that the provision of security is the paramount responsibility of his government and that’s why the National Security Adviser ( NSA) and the erstwhile Service Chiefs were among the first set of people he appointed in 2015. To be fair to President Buhari, the security situation of Nigeria was better in his first administration than his second coming. And because of this rise in attacks in his second term, a vocal minority pressurised him to sack the then Service Chiefs. He refused to do that despite the pressure mounted on him because he believed in their competence. However, the Service Chiefs voluntary resigned and new ones were appointed. Instead of things to get better, we have gone seven years backwards.
The NSA, although not re- appointed ( his tenure ended on 28th May 2019) to the best of my knowledge is still the one advising the President and coordinating counter terrorism operations.
What we are witnessing today is frequent prison breaks and escape of high profile terrorists, kidnap of women and school children and undergraduates, and a steady flow of money from innocent Nigerians to the coffers of terrorists and bandits in the name of ransom payments. It is because of this deplorable security situation that I am asking for the whereabouts of the NSA. Do we really have an NSA?
I heard that someone by the name Rear Admiral YEM Musa is the Coordinator of the so-called Counter Terrorism Centre domiciled in the ONSA. I do not need to tell the NSA that Nigerians do not know about this paper tiger called Counter Terrorism Centre or the Admiral in charge of it, and as far as I am concerned it is another prestige project to create job for the boys and waste tax payers money. The ONSA from all its indications have all the necessary apparatus and policy documents and laws to advice the government and coordinate matters of security in Nigeria but alas it either lacks the will or the requisite leadership to make any positive impact in Nigeria. Despite the Terrorism Prevention and Prohibition Act 2022 and all the grandstanding that the NSA is fond of making on national television whenever the opportunity for him to talk arises, more Nigerians including women and children were abducted by terrorists and bandits under the watch of this government more than any other administration in the history of Nigeria and Africa as a whole. Under this NSA, Nigeria has broken the record of being the country with the highest rate of kidnappings and ransom payments. Between June 2019 and the end of March 2021, at least $10 million has been paid to kidnappers as ransom. Also, under this same NSA, youth unemployment which is a major factor responsible for the growth of kidnap cases rose from 8.22 percent in the third quarter of 2015 to 40 percent in the second quarter of 2022 according to Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina who aptly said that the youths are discouraged, angry and restless, as they look at a future that does not give them hope.
As far as the issues of terrorism and related matters are concerned, the Terrorism Prohibition and Prevention Act, 2022 said that the NSA shall, “ (a) formulate policies for the effective implementation of concerted counter-terrorism and terrorism financing efforts ; (b) ensure the effective formulation and implementation of a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy in Nigeria ; (c) provide support to all relevant security, intelligence, and law enforcement agencies, and military services to prevent and combat acts of terrorism and terrorism financing in Nigeria ; (d) build capacity for the effective perform of functions under any law or regulation ; (e) subject to the approval of the President, establish a National Counter Terrorism Centre for effective coordination of relevant agencies under this Act ; and(f ) perform such other functions that the President may deem necessary or the effective implementation of counter-terrorism measures under this Act.” The NSA is also responsible for analyzing security issues, assessing expected trends and prioritizing activities; playing an advisory role, and making recommendations to the President. The Act designates the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) as the Coordinating Office for Nigeria’s Counter terrorism efforts. The Act also gives ONSA the mandates to “ensure the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive Counter Terrorism Strategy and build capacity for the effective discharge of the functions of relevant security, intelligence, law enforcement and military services.” In line with the foregoing, the Counter Terrorism Centre (CTC) was established in 2012, and is located in the Office of the National Security Adviser.
The NSA should be ashamed to call himself NSA and even address and portray himself as such. Nigerians are unhappy and unsatisfied with his style of leadership and performance. The average Nigerian who is conversant with the ONSA is now convinced that a lame duck retired General is occupying the exalted office. When comparison is made with the likes of Aliyu Gusau, Kayode Ore and even Sarki Muktar, Nigerians frowned with great disdain.
The NSA has failed to advice the President on strategies to curtail incessant jail brakes, Boko Haram insurgency, persistent banditry that sprung up under his watch.
One of the major setback of the Buhari administration is the economy.
Things are not going well with the economy. There is high inflation in the land and the cost of necessities has risen. This high cost of living amidst abject of poverty and lack of opportunities has pushed many Nigerians to the embrace of criminals and terrorists. There is an economic desk in the ONSA because those who created the ONSA knew that security is tied to the economy. Yet, ONSA is unable to help the government to formulate sound economic policies. Today the Dollar is exchanging at the rate of 1 Dollar= 650.
What baffles me is that despite the fact that ONSA is from Borno State, the man does not really see the challenge of Boko Haram and ISWAP insurgents as a personal issue that requires all his prowess and attention to tackle. The majority of those who suffer from the hands of these terrorists and insurgents are of the Kanuri ethnic stock of which the NSA belongs to. Yet the NSA has never cared to establish and nurture a close working relationship with community and youth leaders in Borno especially in places like Munguno, Dikwa, Baga, Damasak Gubio etc. They simply do not know him.
It is against this backdrop that I am now going to ask this pertinent question: what is the work or job specification of this NSA? Personally, I do not really know. Maybe it is to show us how to dress impeccably in the white man’s attire and spew out loquacious verbiages in a futile attempt to impress Nigerians with his command of the English Language. Nigerians to the best of my knowledge no longer care about English Language; what they want is security, jobs, equity and justice.
This NSA has instead of advising the President on ways to mitigate issues of insecurity that is threatening our collective survival decided to be embroiled with revenge, vendetta, and alleged blackmail and smear campaign of people who are either members of the ruling party or appointees of the President. He did it with the late Abba Kyari and heaped all manners of accusations and blackmail on the gentleman, and made it to appear as if it was the late Chief of Staff that was constituting a stumbling block to carry out his duties. Now that the man is dead what has changed? Instead, things have gone bad. May God forgive us all. Nevertheless, one day, we all will go back to meet our Creator to give account of our stewardship.
I remember with nostalgia the story of Shimon Peres of Israel when he served as Defense minister under Yitshak Rabin in 1976. On June 27, two members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – External Operations (PFLP-EO), led by Wadie Haddad (who had previously split from the PFLP of George Habash), and two members of the German Revolutionary Cells, hijacked an Air France Airbus A300 jet airliner carrying 248 passengers. The flight, which had left Tel Aviv for Paris, was rerouted after a stopover in Athens via Benghazi to Entebbe, the country of Uganda’s principal airport. The dictator Idi Amin, who was aware of the hijacking from the start, personally welcomed them and the Ugandan government supported the hijackers. The hijackers forced all Israelis and a few non-Israeli Jews into a separate area after removing all hostages from the plane and transporting them to a deserted airport facility. One hundred and fourty-eight48 captives who were not Israelis were freed and flown to Paris over the course of the next two days. Along with the 12-person Air France crew, 94 passengers—mostly Israelis—remain as prisoners and face imminent execution. The leaders and organizers said that the Israelis must exchange or swap the Israelis with 13 detainees in four other countries and the release of 40 Palestinian terrorists and related prisoners who were detained in Israel. The Prime Minister, Rabin was considering the option of negotiating with the terrorists so that Israel can get the hostages back but the Defence minister, Peres stood his ground and said no. He advised the Prime minister against and instead preferred a different solution—Operation Thunderbolt or what is popularly known as Entebbe Rescue Operation.
To develop a rescue strategy, Peres established the covert Israel Crisis Committee. He met with Commander Netanyahu several times after a strategy was created. During one of their last private conversations, they both looked at maps and discussed specifics. Later, Peres remarked of Netanyahu’s explanation, “My impression was one of exactitude and creativity,” adding that Netanyahu had the air of assurance that the operation would be successful with minimal casualties. Peres assured Netanyahu that he would do everything in his power to ensure the operation occurred without a hitch before they parted ways. Peres then interrupted Moshe Dayan, the former minister of defense, as he was having dinner with friends in a restaurant to deliver the most recent proposal and solicit his feedback. The concerns voiced by Rabin and the Chief of Staff, Mordechai Gur, were mentioned by Peres to Dayan. After reading the written facts, Dayan rejected the concerns, telling Shimon, “This is a strategy that I support not one hundred percent but one hundred and fifty percent!” A military operation is required. Later, Gur gave his blessing to Peres, who gained his support. The idea was subsequently presented to Rabin, who was initially hesitant and did not like the risks, but after Peres provided detailed responses to several important issues and after learning that the cabinet had also supported it, Rabin reluctantly gave his approval.
Rabin recalled shortly after the mission’s conclusion: “We summoned seven of our top commanders to my office. I explained to our military friends that the honor and future of the Jewish people are in jeopardy, and that the risk we are thinking about is not only one of calculated risk in the military sense, but also one of comparative risk, since there is a choice between capitulating to terror and risky rescue efforts resulting from independence.”
Following the operation’s success, Peres positioned himself to win some praise and admiration, in some ways competing with Rabin for attention.
How did Peres achieved that kind of success? He got it through meticulous planning and making use of the highly trained Israeli commandos, something that we also have in Nigeria. He organized a Task force that consisted of about one hundred personnel that comprised of ground command and control which was headed by Brigadier Dan Shomron; an assault unit led by Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu– this force was composed entirely of commandos from Sayeret Matkal, and was given the primary task of assaulting the old terminal and rescuing the hostages. Then the Paratroopers force led by Col. Matan Vilnai – tasked with securing the civilian airport field, clearing and securing the runways, and protection and fueling of the Israeli aircraft in Entebbe.
The truth must be told no matter what; this government is losing its popularity at an alarming rate because unlike the 2015-2019 dispensation that we witnessed improvement in the security of the country but unimpressive economic management, the country is witnessing unimpressive performance in both security and economic life of its people. The bandits are becoming emboldened by the day because some people are encouraging, aiding, arming and covering them yet the entire security architecture of Nigeria is unable to identify these people to arrest them and their minions. Innocent Nigerians are now the very people that are financing terrorism and banditry through the payment of huge sums of money to the criminals to continue with their escapades. As I am writing this article, I watched a video clip of how the bandits were flogging the Kaduna –Abuja train hostages because the government stopped the families from paying ransom.
I understand the kind of difficult position that the government is in and I am not advocating for the use of force or encouraging the payment of ransom either. All I want to say is that this nonsense has to stop; the NSA must come with a winning solution for the President to nip this menace in the bud before his tenure ends or else this government will go down as one of the most unpopular government in the history of Nigeria. In any case, we are all witness to what happened in Sri Lanka a couple of days ago. I am scared for Nigeria because I can see similarities between what is happening in Nigeria and what transpired in Sri Lanka before the Prime Minister’s residence was set ablaze. Rising costs of supplies, epilectic power supply, high cost of fuel, sickening and monumental corruption, ostentatious lifestyle by the corrupt few and collapse of the educational sector. Ours is even worse because we have a serious case of insecurity in the land. Now is the time for NSA Munguno to wake and begin to act.