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Much ado about national security adviser

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national security adviser

GENERAL Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, GCFR, whose tenure was between August 27, 1985 and 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 seventh Inspector General of Police, Alhaji Mohammed Gambo Jimeta the first national security adviser. The last time I visited that office in Abuja, the penciled 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,  (February 25, 1925 -December 28, 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 organisation then was headed by the third and last Director General, Ambassador Muhammed Lawan Rafindadi (1934-2007).

The organisation persecuted many people, including me during the tenure of Major General Buhari (1984-1985). So on June 5, 1986, General Babangida 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 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”.

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So when General Babangida 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 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, 70 kilometres 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 Sani Abacha 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.

Continues next week…


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