By Hammid Taju
The ominous stratagem targeted at dismembering the corporate existence of Nigeria was designed and implemented by Boko Haram, portentously aggravated by sporadic militancy in the Niger delta, massive oil bunkering and theft on the high seas. Alongside the foregoing is the mindless kidnapping for ransom or extortion, occasionally culminating in murder of citizens including foreigners in various parts of the country which compelled President Goodluck Jonathan to recognize the inevitability of a radical security strategy aimed at restoring social cohesion in affected areas and Nigeria generally.
The appointment of Mohammed Sambo Dasuki, to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) as the nation battled the onslaught against the country was thus interpreted by security experts as strategic and pragmatic. Dasuki, a retired colonel and son of ex-Sultan of Sokoto, cousin to incumbent Sultan, His Eminence, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’adu Abdulkadir III, Amirul Muminin, has had a distinguished career in the military, having served extensively in the artillery corps with meritorious stint as aide –de- camp to military President, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida. This, coupled with the fact that he is progeny of the Caliphate, stands him in an advantageous position with highly respected former patrons of security services of northern extraction. That Dasuki has developed rapport with incumbent service chiefs underscore the foregoing point.
It is significant to conceptualize the NSA’s personality, integrity and clout even as it is trite to portray him as no-nonsense, detribalized, compassionate and dedicated achiever. Consistently, and indeed routinely, his comportment yields these personality traits. Credible sources in ONSA confirmed that the NSA eschews bigotry in whatever manifestation; ethnic, religious, class or elitist; qualities that create opportunity for growth and development enabling crossing of barriers and facilitating social mobility.
Dasuki seemed to have been cut for greatness from his youth: He was commissioned into the Nigerian Army in 1972, a product of the Nigerian Defence Academy and developed in the Nigerian Army School of Artillery. He attended United States Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas and the United States Army School of Artillery, Oklahoma. Also in the United States, he bagged BA International Relations and MA in Security Policy Studies. Honed in academic qualifications, security studies and military expertise, the NSA deploys multiple competences for strategic decisions and complex challenges encountered at current campaign to restore order wherever constituted authority is threatened in the country.
On his appointment as the Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Plc where he demonstrated high managerial competence during 2002 and 2003, Dasuki identified the logic of delivering superior corporate performance by strengthening the quality of human capital. On resumption of office at the MINT, he enhanced staff morale with immediate upward review of employee entitlements and total compensation. The company’s output of banknotes and security documents soared during his tenure. In addition, the new factory and office complex in Abuja was commissioned while the Ink Mill, Tawada Ltd was established. The latter supplies security inks to the factories in Abuja and Lagos. Encouraging participation in NSPM’s key activities, the Managing Director maintained strong rapport with stakeholders and former Directors.
However he expressed reservation on the contemplated privatization of the company, the result of which culminated in his involuntary severance.
Following the perception that the incessant Boko Haram onslaught constituted a threat to the sovereignty of Nigeria, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan restructured the ONSA. The restructuring was followed by the declaration of emergency rule in three north-eastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa as well as the proscription of Jamaatu Ahlis-Sunna Liddaawati Wal Jihad, (Boko Haram) along with the amendment of the Terrorism Act.
Dasuki assessed the complexity of his new task in terms of resource development, allocation and deployment as soon as he became the NSA. Consistent with his managerial philosophy, he promoted team work as critical tool for implementation and delivery of targeted goals.
Indeed, the NSA recognized that strategic utilization of cumulative expertise would facilitate optimal deployment of resources required for rapid restoration of social integration and peace in conflict areas throughout the country. At ONSA, staff morale and commitment derived from effective delegation of responsibilities have been sustained at high level during the one year of NSA Dasuki’s tenure. Indeed the synergy within national security network culminating in early control of conflict states is the translation of Jonathan’s strategy of confronting remote causes of Boko Haram insurgency rather than what observers hitherto perceived as use of “ excessive force”. In conjunction with other security agencies, Dasuki coordinated holistic and focused campaign consistent with international best practices.
Analysts say religion; ethnicity and regionalism have been part of Nigeria’s politics. Consequently, since the youth control the ballot box, disenchantment with leadership would most effectively be undertaken through the group. Boko Haram insurgency might have therefore been ignited by worsening socio economic conditions as well as loss of political power in affected areas. Professor Ali Mazrui, Kenyan born historian and expert on Africa, identified economic inequalities, ethnic rivalry, religious animosity and misdistribution of economic skills as a hindrance to development in Nigeria. While proffering economic quota for northern entrepreneurs, he emphasized the significance of empowerment.
Direct link between Boko Haram and external terror groups may not been officially confirmed. However, recent discovery of imported sophisticated arms and weaponry, allegedly sponsored by Lebanon based terror cell, Hezbollah, was traced to locations in Kano and Abuja thereby raising considerable anxiety in security circles. It is strongly suspected that Lebanese Shiite and Shia adherents loyal to Hezbollah might be facilitating possible attacks of Western and Israeli interests based in Nigeria.
Prior to the restructuring of the ONSA, terror acts were frequent in vulnerable states of the North-east spreading to Kano, Kaduna and suburbs of Abuja. Victims of terrorism spread through worship centers, initially churches, but subsequently mosques and faith based functions where prominent traditional rulers were targeted. Despite assurance that peace was imminent, many citizens in other parts of the country treated issues affecting them in conflict states with heightened anxiety or apathy.