BY IBRAHIM BELLO
Since the meeting with some traditional rulers from southern extraction where President Muhammadu Buhari 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 is 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 are flying around. There are unconfirmed reports that Babagana Monguno, the incumbent national security adviser, would be retained, some are saying Abdulrahman Dambazau, former minister of interior, would step into that office; Ahmed Rufai, an ambassador has also been listed.
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 will catch up with some of them and history will be the mirror to judge if they deserve what in today’s political space.
Buhari has been somewhat quiet about the reappointment of his Monguno even though 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, he replaced Dasuki Sambo. Before his retirement in 2013, Monguno was chief of Nigeria’s Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA). His last assignment in the army was commander, Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) from January till September 2013.
As NSA, Monguno witnessed a challenge when his village in Borno state was captured by Boko Haram but within days, security forces retook the territory in a coordinated air and ground attacks.
At a time when the fragile unity of Nigeria was on the brink, the ability of 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 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 Buratai, the chief of army staff, who is a northern extraction, like himself.
Unlike other military chiefs, Monguno work 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.
Without discountenancing the credibility of other speculated contenders, Monguno efforts in helping Buhari to stabilize 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.
While he was chief of army staff between 2008 and 2010, Dambazau 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 Buhari greatly respects and appreciates to speak on his behalf.
The former military administrator of Lagos and current chairman, Committee on Drug Abuse, is also tipped as a likely successor. Marwa is reported to be relying on his relationship with close allies to the president to get the top job.
Maj Gen SD Aliyu, alleged to be an ally of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar 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.
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 have 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 he confessed he owned even though he said the property were acquired through loan. That explanation nevertheless never cleared the doubt and suspicion the public had about him.
The current Chief of Defence Intelligence (CDI) , is reportedly pursuing the position of the NSA through a woman who claimed to be close ally to the President. He was reported to be dishing out money to the woman to help him secure the position. While the Agency he is heading is filled with disgruntled staff due to the poor welfare of the staff.
The current Director National Intelligence, 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 committee on the money, 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 left his office-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 is remained to be seen how and who the president chooses in view of the various competencies and baggage each of the contenders carried.