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Much ado about national security adviser

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General Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, GCFR, whose tenure was between August 27, 1985, to August 26, 1993, was the first to introduce the office of the National Security Adviser to this country. That was in January 1990 when he made my friend, the 7th Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Gambo Jimeta as the first National Security Adviser. The last time I visited that office in Abuja, the pencilled portraits of past and present National Security Advisers were displayed on the stairs leading to the office of the National Security Adviser.

In April 1980, President Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari, GCFR,  (25 February, 1925 -28 December, 2018) appointed Dr. Bukar Shuaib National Adviser on National Security, who was later succeeded in 1983 by Professor Shehu Ahmad Said Galadanchi, now General Administrator of the Abuja National Mosque. These two men were special advisers and not National Security Advisers.

In January 1990, General Babangida replaced General Sani Abacha (20 September, 1943- 8 June, 1998) with General Salihu Ibrahim (1935-2018) as Chief of Army Staff. He also replaced Alhaji Muhammadu Gambo Jimeta as Inspector General of Police with Alhaji Aliyu Attah (82). A few months after dethroning Major General Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, as head of State, General Babangida disbanded the Nigerian Security Organisation.

The organization then was headed by the third and last Director General, Ambassador Muhammed Lawan Rafindadi (1934-2007). The organization persecuted many people including me during the tenure of Major General Buhari (1984-1985). So on June 5 1986, General Babangida, GCFR, established effectively three organisations: The Defence Intelligence Agency, The National Intelligence Agency and The State Security Service.

In establishing the three bodies, General Babangida charged that the “Defence Intelligence Agency with the responsibility for the prevention and detection of crime of a military nature against the security of Nigeria; the protection and preservation of all military classified matters concerning the security of Nigeria, both within and outside Nigeria; such other responsibilities affecting defence intelligence of a military nature, both within and outside Nigeria, as the President, or the Chief of Defence Staff, as the case may be, may deem necessary, The National Intelligence Agency shall be charged with the responsibility for the general maintenance of the security of Nigeria outside, concerning matters that are not related to military issues; and such other responsibilities affecting national intelligence outside Nigeria as the National Defence Councilor the President, as the case may deem necessary. The State Security Service shall be charged with responsibility for the prevention and detection within Nigeria of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria, the protection and preservation of all non-military classified matters concerning internal security of Nigeria; and such other responsibilities affecting internal security within Nigeria as the National Assembly or the President, as the case may be, may deem necessary”.

So when General Babangida, GCFR, appointed Alhaji Mohammed Gambo Jimeta as National Security Adviser, the expectation then was that as National Security Adviser he would be in charge on all matters concerning the Defence of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Nigeria. But that was not to be. General Babangida placed that job under the coordinating committee of Defence Intelligence of which he made Major General Aliyu Gusau as the head. I asked Alhaji Gambo Jimeta recently at his Maitama residence in Abuja what was his schedule in 1990. He said” when Babangida removed me as the IG, he still needed my services as a friend. So, he made me NSA with no schedule and no office. So as NSA, I was operating from my Victoria Island home with no staff. I then contacted foreign embassies who have National Security Advisers to explain to me the schedule of National Security Adviser.

It was General Babangida, GCFR, who helped by providing accommodation for us.” He did his best for our take off at that time.” In all but name, Lt-General Aliyu Mohammed was National Security Adviser between 1990 and 1993. In August 1993, General Babangida formally named another National Security Adviser in the person of Alhaji Aliyu Ismaila Gwazo from Gwazo village, seventy kilometers from Kano. He was the pioneer Director-General of the State Security Service. His deputy then was Lt-Col. Ajibola Kunle Togun. He later became a Brigadier General He is from Oke-Ogun in Oyo state. General Babangida then appointed Alhaji Gambo Jimeta as Chairman of the directorate of MAMSER —Mass Mobilisation for Self Reliance and Economic Recovery.

It was Alhaji Gwazo that served as NSA to Chief Ernest Adegunle Oladeinde Shonekan (83), GCFR, from August 26, 1993, to November 17 1993. He also served General Sanni Abacha, GCFR, from November 17, 1993, to June 8 1998. When General Abdusalam Abubakar, GCFR, came to power on June 9 1998, he appointed the Chairman and Managing Director of Atoto Press in Ilorin, Major General Abdullahi Mohammed (80) as National Security Adviser. Major General Mohammed was the military governor of Benue-Plateau from July 1975 to February 1976 during the military regime of General Murtala Muhammed. He was also the first Director-General of the National Security Organisation (NSO). He lives quietly now in Ilorin. He had his military service between 1958-1979. In 1999 when President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, asked the late Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief Ufot Ekaette to prepare for his approval, the schedule of certain public officers including Ministers and their portfolios, there was no schedule or portfolio assigned to the National Security adviser. I asked Dr. Goke Adegoroye last week, who assisted Chief Ekaette in drafting the memo for the schedule of Ministers and their portfolios why nothing was assigned to the NSA, he said the expectation was that President Obasanjo being a retired Military officer would assign responsibilities for the National Security Adviser.

“Don’t forget, Eric that it was purely a Military affair, both the President and the NSA were from the Military and the peculiar circumstances of the time, transiting from military to civilian democratic administration demanded special considerations. Since every power flows from the President, it should be the duty of the President to assign specific responsibilities to the NSA as he deems fit”. In government circles till today, the National Security Adviser is classified as “a senior official in the cabinet of the President of Nigeria who serves as the chief adviser to the President on national security issues. The National Security Adviser participates in the meetings of the National Security Council, and other deliberations on security and intelligence matters.

The National Security Adviser manages national security on behalf of the President through the National Security Council, the Joint Intelligence Board and the Intelligence Community Committee. The National Security Advisor is the principal officer of the National Security Council and advises the President on national security issues. Appointment to the office does not require a confirmation from the Nigerian Senate, and the holder serves at the pleasure of the president. The functions of the National Security Adviser varies from administration to administration; and depends, not only on the qualities of the person appointed to the position but also on the style and management philosophy of the incumbent President”. At the takeoff of the democratic system in May 1999, President Olusegun Obasanjo, GCFR, appointed Lt-General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau as National Security Adviser. In the intelligence community, General Gusau is feared. In 1993, he was appointed Chief of Army Staff. He has all the contacts, even globally. He resigned in May 2006 to enter the Presidential race.

President Umaru Yar’adua, GCFR, then appointed Major General Abdullahi Sarki Mukhtar (70) as National Security Adviser from Kano state in June 2007 and served till 8 March 2010. Major General Mukhtar was former military Governor of Kaduna and Katsina states. After President Yar’adua’s death, President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, then reappointed Lt-General Aliyu Mohammed Gusau as National Security Adviser thereafter. In March 2010, General Mohammed Gusau later resigned and joined the presidential race again. He handed over to his deputy, Colonel Kayode Are of Course 12 of the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course. Colonel Are is from Abeokuta in Ogun state. Colonel Kayode Are was appointed National Security Adviser on September 18, 2010.

To be continued tomorrow.


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