NEW SERVICE CHIEFS & NSA MONGUNO OUTLASTING ASO VILLA CABALS *BY OLALEKAN ADIGUN It's no longer news that one insider who fought the Aso Rock cabal to a standstill is Rtd General Baba Gana Monguno, the National SecurityAdviser to President Buhari. That is if you dont count the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo who was the cabal's main target. While the Vice President continues to win the praise of the President openly and publicly despite the cabal's many attempts to rupture their relationship, the NSA also has retained the confidence of the President who has refused many attempts by the cabal led by late ABBA Kyari to remove him outrightly. So when remnants of the late Kyari penned a missive in the media recently saying the NSA is an unhappy, the question cropped up: Is Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), the NSA truly an unhappy man? What will make anyone believe that a man admired by many majorly for his courage and determination, even in the face of adversity,  be unhappy despite overcoming challenges and several attempts to undermine him? Monguno earned the respect of many when he stood up courageously against influential individuals -known as the Cabals-in the seat of power not minding how they might try to rid him of his position as NSA. It is however baffling to note that anyone will misconstrue such an expression of genuine concern and the love for country as sadness or disillusionment with the setup at the time. Calling him sad at a time such as this (when a new set of service chiefs are on board) is a deliberate attempt to sow a seed of discord between the new service chiefs and the NSA. MONGUNO’S CONCERNS Although a recent online report described Monguno, as "the unhappy national security adviser”, those close to him disagree, affirming instead that his competence earned him the respect of the President, particularly for speaking out against what was clearly becoming an aberration in the security architecture of the country. A close associate of the NSA who spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed that Monguno’s concern was never prompted by his desire to gain personal benefits or seek cheap popularity as President Buhari’s silently influential NSA. His dissatisfaction with the conduct of former service chiefs was purely based on professional grounds. It is this his dissatisfaction that is being used to portray Monguno as a sad aide to the President. “In fact, what is manifesting today can be traced to the power tussle between the late Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Mr Abba Kyari and the NSA, Babagana Monguno. The CoS had usurped Monguno’s role as a security adviser and dished out operational orders directly to the service chiefs without minding the implications of his action especially as the situation in parts of the country deteriorated,” Monguno’s associate added It was indeed an open secret that Kyari had made several attempts to challenge the authority of Monguno to effectively coordinate the activities of security and defence organisations in the country.  A source in the presidency who was quite familiar with the frosty relationship between Monguno and Kyari, confirmed that late Abba Kyari had even devised several tactics to destabilize the NSA, including enlisting the services of a section of the press to anchor the media arm of his plot to undermine the powers of Monguno who had rejected several overtures to jeopardize national security and the sovereignty of the country. FEUD BETWEEN KYARI AND MONGUNO It was learnt that Kyari’s grudge against Monguno started during the probe of money found at an Ikoyi apartment allegedly owned by the NIA under the watch of its former DG, Ayo Oke. The NSA was one of the dissenting voices against the late CoS. He resisted all attempts by Kyari to divert the NIA funds and mislead the President on its handling. According to the presidency source, while Monguno had dismissed attempts by Kyari to take custody and control of the money, the NSA had insisted that the money be deposited at the CBN, hence the fight between the two trusted aides of the President started and persisted until the demise of the CoS in 2020. Frustrated by Monguno’s unwavering stand against plans by the CoS to shortchange the system, Kyari launched several attacks against the NSA, including sending several damaging reports against the NSA to the President requesting for his sack from office. Another anonymous source in the presidency disclosed that President Buhari who is very satisfied with Monguno as NSA had at several times rejected propositions by the CoS to fire him. Specifically, in Dec 2019, an incident was reported of how President Buhari angrily sent Kyari away when he approached him (the President) again with a memo proposing the replacement of Monguno with Lawan Daura former DSS boss as NSA. At about the same time, the late Kyari was also scheming to remove President's Media Adviser Femi Adesina and had already instructed another Villa official to be playing his role while reappointments for the second term where in progress. "Kyari then refused to process NSA and the Media Adviser's reappointments. It was an open secret then at the Villa," a source noted. MONGUNO’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SERVICE CHIEFS Many are not aware that the President had in fact become tired of Mr Kyari’s antics and was determined not to renew his appointment but for the intervention of some influential traditional rulers whom the late Kyari had ran to for help to secure his job at the take-off of the second term. Evidently, Kyari’s meddlesomeness in the operations of the service chiefs became a regular feature and the results were obvious for all to see as security operations were poorly coordinated. The lackluster attitude of the military in the fight against insurgency and banditry in the country was attributed to the cold war orchestrated against the NSA. At some points, the service chiefs refused to honour meetings called at the instance of the NSA for fear of being punished by the late CoS. A source at the NSA’s office disclosed that a clear manifestation of the frosty relationship between the NSA and service chiefs was the redeployment of senior Army officers away from the NSA’s Office by the then Chief of Army Staff, without any justifiable reasons, amounting to gross insubordination in military and security parlance. Severing NSA's formal ties with the service chiefs was one of the ploys devised by Kyari to whittle down the power and influence of Monguno as NSA and then portray him as incompetent. Monguno’s cordial relationship with the present set of service chiefs is an indication that there was indeed no re-definition of the role of the NSA as wrongly insinuated in a recent online report. The new crop of service chiefs enjoy a cordial relationship with the NSA which is needed for the successful prosecution of the ongoing operation against insurgency and banditry across the country. Indeed the NSA said last week at a press briefing at the Aso Villa that since the appointment of the new service chiefs he has already met them severely, something that late Kyari effectively frustrated with the old service chiefs. The resurgent attacks on the person of Monguno is a strategy by remnants of the Cabal to renew the plot to axe him as Nigeria’s National Security Adviser. As has already been explained via a statement from his office, the NSA was misquoted in an interview with the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Monguno was quoted to have said that the government was not aware of how monies meant for the purchase of arms were spent under the immediate past Service Chiefs and could not also trace the arms they claimed to have bought. But the statement noted that the NSA did not categorically say that monies meant for arms procurement were missing under the former service chiefs. According to the clarification, NSA office noted that “we would like to state that the NSA was quoted out of context, as he did not categorically say that funds meant for arms procurement were missing under the former service chiefs, as reported or transcribed by some media outlets from the BBC interview. “During the interview, the NSA only reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to deal decisively with insecurity and stated President Muhammadu Buhari’s continued commitment to providing all necessary support to the armed forces, including the provision of arms and equipment.” Clearly, the ploy to remove Monguno from office has not been discarded by his detractors. They are relentless in seeking avenues to extend the unhealthy rivalry that existed between the NSA and the former service chiefs to the new helmsmen of the armed forces. Fortunately, Monguno, a seasoned professional, remains unperturbed. Having survived previous attempts to remove him from office, his disposition to doing the right thing cannot be changed by a mere propaganda to portray him as power drunk and seeking personal gains. Happy or unhappy, the NSA remains focused on the job. And if feelers from the Presidency is anything to do by, the retired General Monguno continues to enjoy the confidence of the President. Said a Villa source "the new Chief of Staff being a tested diplomat and international public servant is working in tandem with the NSA, and even Mr. President is relieved that his trusted aides are now on the same page." What cannot be denied today is that Monguno now has a good working relationship with the new military service chiefs and he has survived the antics of the Cabal so far. Let's hope all these will yield better security outcomes for the country unlike before. Olalekan Adigun is a Lagos based Public Affairs Analyst
Babagana Monguno,

The National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Maj. Gen Babagana Monguno, has advised state governments to adopt strategies toward strengthening the security apparatus in their states.

Mungono, in a speech at the third quarterly meeting of Secretaries of State Governments (SSGs) held on Thursday in Abuja, said that the states could improve their security situations through better training and funding.

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He emphasised the need to engage community leaders to enhance intelligence gathering.

“If you disengage community leaders, you will not have the type of intelligence you need.

“Right now, security agencies do not work together as closely as expected. We have been trying to ensure unity of purpose, unity of operation,” he said.

Monguno stated that the situation was traceable to the Dasuki report of 1976.

“Whether we like it or not, in Nigeria, we fundamentally rely on traditional institutions. They are essential to security and if they do not carry the kind of authority they ought to, we cannot recalibrate the entire political structure.

“Leave out our traditional rulers, you will begin to see all kinds of leaders of various sects filling  the vacuum because their traditional rulers have been taken away from what they are supposed to do and coordinate.”

The NSA, however, urged the SSGs to go back to their states and deliberate with their principals to make them understand the importance of traditional rulers.

“It is not to give people traditional titles alone. Traditional rulers must be fully engaged to support our efforts,” he added.

In his speech, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, urged the SSGs to go back to their states and calibrate political structures.

He emphasised the need to fashion out structures that would work for the nation.

The SGF said that there was need for the states to revisit the 1976 Dasuki Local Government reform, adding that it would be a good solution to the many security challenges and many other problems in their states.

The Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, in his remarks, said that community participation in crime prevention and control had become necessary and should not be left in the hands of the security agencies alone.

Adamu said that it was imperative to involve community members like the traditional rulers and faith-based organisations who understand the environment and know each other, in order to curb security challenges.

“People drive development initiatives, so popular participation has become the order of the day.

“Community participation will ensure that security issues become everybody’s business.”

The meeting, which was virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic, took short presentations from Niger, Taraba, Oyo, Plateau, Imo and Akwa-Ibom SSGs who shared experiences from their states.

The theme of the meeting was “The Role of Secretaries to the State Governments in Strengthening Sub-National Level Security Architecture”.

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