June 4, 2023

Why Tinubu must activate his renewed hope in the choice of NSA



By Abdullahi Umar

Before we begin to reel out figures and data-related items to justify our biases, let it be stated clearly that there isn’t any conventional way of doing anything. If the so-called convention isn’t providing the needed and necessary desires, it should be discarded.

By the time President Muhammadu Buhari ended his reign in government earlier last week, over 63,000 people had been killed. The majority of the dead met their fate through kidnapping, terrorism and other violent crimes which became an industry at a time.

Banditry was the most flourishing endeavour one could go into, especially in the North, with communal clashes, senseless herders-farmers clashes, and extra-judicial killings rampant. Crude oil theft which is estimated to be running into about 1b dollars every quarter, making it 4 billion dollars every year, was not left out in this cocktail of affliction.

Security, it is said, is one of the essential duties of any responsible or responsive government. Throughout the 8 years of the past administration – and even before – the only set of people that relied on the government for their security is the ordinary people. But the wealthy, also lamented as many had to engage the services of private security firms – in some cases, it did not help. The bottom line is that only very few trust the government for their security.

The security of any country is in the hands of different security establishments and is supervised usually by the National Security Adviser who often is the intermediary between the office of the president and all other security outfits.

The office of the NSA coordinates the activities of all other security agencies and also provides strategic direction, tactical management, emergency planning, and disaster recovery strategies.

It is through his office that there is a notification of significant new trends or developments regarding the threat to the information systems of an organization and country. This notification may include analytical insights into trends, intentions, technologies, or tactics of an adversary targeting information systems.

The office is as important as that of the office of the president. The president relies totally on his advice on any and every security matter. It is not for fun that such a person must have the total trust and confidence of the president, and he necessarily must assert quite a lot of influence.

Most of the time in Nigeria’s case, persons occupying the office of the NSA have been people with military backgrounds. However, there have also been cases where the occupants have been equally, people outside the military, and they performed creditably well and above those with military backgrounds.

The essential issue is that he must be a security-driven person.

Outside the military, there is the Department of State Services DSS, The Nigeria Police Force NPF, National Intelligence Agency NIA. People from the above experience can be considered as well.

It is also a fact that the functions of the National Security Adviser vary 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.

There is no doubt that a career individual in any of the intelligence agencies or the Police is a good consideration for appointment as NSA. The Police, because of its national spread and presence virtually everywhere are best suited for the coverage of national security and there is a pool of past, credible and professional Inspectors-General of Police that President Tinubu can draw from.

However, unlike in Nigeria where most appointees to the position since 1990 have not just come from the military, but have Army background, many of those appointed to the post of National Security Adviser across the globe have come from diverse backgrounds, especially in the United States, United Kingdom and India. This is a pointer to the fact that what the position requires are not necessarily military or combatant skills. Managerial and some peculiar skills, especially the ability to harness and exercise due diligence and respect in treating briefs from every member of the intelligence community and to respond to their needs with equal attention appear to be the non-disputable requirements of the post.

It is however important for President Tinubu to realise that politics can’t be a factor in determining who becomes the next NSA, rather a professional from the Police or Intelligence community will be most suitable at a time like this when the country is ostensibly in dire straits.

This write-up is essentially about why the convention should momentarily take the back seat and let us try other arms of our security establishments.

The reality is that most of Nigeria’s insecurity issues are what could be resolved using non-kinetic means and well-trained Police officers understand the techniques of handling these in tandem with international best practices concerning human rights considerations. Thankfully, Nigeria still has a few former IGPs who can fit in. Without a doubt, Tinubu’s success rate on internal security and economic progress would be largely boosted if he embraces total departure from what hasn’t worked in the national security space and tries something novel regarding his appointment into the office of the NSA.

 •Umar, a criminologist, sent this piece from Kaduna