By Abdullahi Gwamna
The media briefing by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Mohammed Monguno (retired) shortly after the President’s meeting with security chiefs over state of affairs in the country was obviously prearranged. It has also raised a lot of concern and interest. Although, I don’t want to contradict the NSA on whether indeed he was conveying the exacts words of Mr. President and gave true account of what transpired at that important meeting, nonetheless, I find it too hard to believe that he was conveying the exact words of the President. The allegations are too weighty and should have included General Monguno too. The NSA’s quick to blame and accuse the security chiefs’ amount to absolving himself from the terrible general insecurity situation in the country. Being the NSA, he is not only a member of the government, but plays a great role in the security architecture in this country. It is common knowledge that all security challenges are best tackled with timely and accurate information and intelligence which should have been within the purview of the NSA.
The Office of the National Security Adviser which Major General Babagana Mohammed Monguno (retired) is in charge, is responsible for the coordination of our intelligence agencies and by implications the provision of timely and accurate intelligence on which our security agencies depends to perform their duties. Therefore, if Mr President is not pleased with the Service Chiefs and their good is not good enough, the blame should be heaped squarely on Monguno’s shoulder. As rightly noted by Mr. Yemi Adeyinka in an article titled “Why Buhari may choose a new NSA” in TheCable online newspaper, “Essentially, the face of national security of Nigeria whether worse, better or best depends largely on the expert advice and prescriptions of the NSA.” Therefore, it is foolhardy to resort to the usual antics of blame game by the NSA, exonerating himself from the mess. One other thing is that, contrary to the insinuation, the utterances of the NSA are a great disservice to the sacrifices of our gallant troops and armed forces and no sensible President and Commander-in-Chief would be so insensitive to the plights of the troops’ morale and sacrifices by publicly chiding their leadership.
I must raise these issues given the antecedents of the NSA because he was always busy depending his turf to the point of sponsoring media campaigns of calumny against some government officials especially in the days preceding his reappointment. The days before the renewal of his appointment by the President, witnessed heightened campaign against perceived likely persons to replace him as NSA (see the Premium Times of August 8, 2019 sponsored post titled “NSA: Who the cap fits? By Ibrahim Bello”, amongst others). Given this alone and his dismal performance, it is more than enough for the President to have dispensed without the NSA. Leaving him in that office, is a great disservice to the security architecture and the nation.
Indeed, there is no one that is happy with the state of affairs in this nation, especially the general insecurity situation in some parts of the north east and north west geo-political zones of our country. Terrorists and bandits kill and maim innocent citizens in Gubio, Monguno, Borno State and parts of Katsina and Zamfara States to the point that citizens have begun to take to the streets. However, it is wrong to blame these worsening security problems on the security agencies, least of all the Service Chiefs. The situation we found ourselves did not start today, it is cumulation of years of decay and lack of political will. We are also reaping from years of neglect especially in the current democratic dispensation. There is lack of funding, equipment and training of both the police and the armed forces prior to 2015. The police have deliberately been neglected and the military have been drafted to do police duties which is an unfamiliar terrain and we expect the same standard.
It is interesting to note that since the time of late President Shehu Shagari of blessed memory, there has not been any major procurement for the armed forces till date. The recent efforts to procure equipment from the Chinese is still in progress. The Babangida administration because of concerns for its regime security, based on the Major Gideon Orkar’s attempted coup experience, greatly undermined the armed forces through denial of funds and training. The military did not fare any better during the short lived Shokenan’s interim government and Abacha’s Eight years. Then came Obasanjo with vengeful mindset. He retired most of the well trained, professional and promising military officers most of whom came from the northern part of the country. The same section of the country whose elites hoisted him on Nigerians.
His line of thinking was to have a well compact military, devoid of ills of the past. Unfortunately, that did not materialize. He rather pitched the military against the politicians. We all remember how the late Senator Wakku and other leading legislators moved for the relocation of military out of Abuja and the incarcerations of some it’s leaders such as Lieutenant General Ishaya Bamaiyi (retired) and several others based on phantom coup. Obasanjo also pursued a half-hearted reorientation of the military through transformation and attitudinal change without corresponding increment in armament, equipment and training. The programme which started from 2000 died a natural death in 2015. Obasanjo’s government and its predecessors did care a hoot about the military till he left. Typical example was the peacekeeping allowance of troops which the United Nations pays soldiers. The United Nations pays every Nigerian soldiering peacekeeping operation $1,028 per month, Obasanjo pays only $600, keeping $400 for himself. This situation was reversed by the God-fearing late President Umaru Musa ‘Yar’adua following a representation by the then Chief of Army Staff, late Lieutenant General LN Yusuf. Unfortunately, President ‘Yar’adua died before he could do much for the military.
Then came President Goodluck Jonathan, under whose watch some portions of Nigerian territories were taken over by the military due to poor equipment and morale. This country has never witnessed monumental corruption in the Defence like during President Good Jonathan’s administration without any tangible increment to our military’s equipment holding except for the hasty purchase of some outdated Armoured tanks from Ukraine. Till date, the nation is still grappling with the humongous amount of money released for that purpose which was diverted to individuals’ pockets through bogus releases by the then National Security Adviser, Lieutenant Colonel Sambo Dasuki (retired).
Fast forward to this administration, headed by President Muhammadu Buhari. The security situation was so terrible that he made it one of his campaign’s points and administration’s mantra. His grand strategic directives and efforts paid up as all territories held by the Boko Haram terrorists were recaptured and great sense of security was restored especially in the north east. Albeit this was done without any major military procurement by the government. Being the NSA, you know the implications of this. The military under the able leadership of the Army did marvelously well and recaptured all held territories, however, it is hampered by poor state of its equipment to enable it to finish off the terrorists. You know all this, yet, instead of you to advise the President for such need, you were busy chasing shadows. Rather, it is on record that despite your dismal performance, you were pleading with the National Assembly for increased funding to your office, when you were known to have returned over N16 Billion to the government in December 2016! In fact, not quite long-ago, Senator Ali Mohammed Ndume, Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, cried publicly on the poor funding of the military. Being the coordinator of all intelligence in the country, what efforts have you made in tracking the source of funding of terrorists’ activities and banditry and their sponsors? Why do you like to shift blame?
The media must be blamed for not doing enough and exposing such ineptitude and the monumental corruption allegations against you and under your watch. We all know what happened to the report of the committee investigating your predecessor and the recent expose by one of few courageous media houses, despite efforts to suppress the story.
General Babagana Mohammed Monguno (retired) please tell the President that Nigerians are also very angry and disappointed with you!! He should have sacked you long ago for gross incompetence and undermining the government through clandestine activities with active connivance with some section of the press and not advising him well. The recent media outburst is deceitful and capable of demoralizing the troops who have been sacrificing their lives for the defence of this nation especially in the north east. It is therefore uncharitable to tell them that the President is angry with them when you know that they are ill-equipped, all thanks to “your advice.” NSA please tell the President that the people are also angry with you.
Abdullahi Gwamna is a public analyst that lives in Kaduna. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org