Nigeria has a new sheriff in town. His name is Nuhu Ribadu he has been appointed as the National Security Adviser.
This office globally came to the limelight in 1947 when the US Congress created the office known as the National Security Act. In America, it essentially offers the president a wide range of security options. NSA helps the president provide background memos and staffing for the president’s security meetings and phone calls with world leaders. The office is so important that the NSA is the first person to see the President and the last to see him after the close of business of the day.
In Nigeria, the office was created by the military junta of IBB in 1993 when the defunct National Security organization was scrapped and an act was put in place creating the State Security Service SSS) which is bestowed with the responsibility of internal security. It also created the Nigerian Intelligence Agency( our equivalent of the CIA), saddled with the responsibility of international intelligence gathering. And finally, we have the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) which handles military intelligence.
The office of the NSA was therefore created to coordinate the activities of the security agencies for a better proactive Security architecture for the country.
Since the creation of these agencies, though their respective roles remain secretive, given the incessant security breaches that manifested in armed banditry, insurgency, IPOB, herders-farmers clashes, and several other security breaches, it’s doubtful if the office of NSA has performed its statutory functions satisfactory. On the contrary, it gained notoriety for fraud during the Col Dasuki and President Goodluck era. Remember Dasuki used the sum of $2.1b meant for procurement of arms to decimate insurgency by distributing to PDP apparachiks. Remember how the sum of $43m was found in Ikoyi house which was traced to NIA. DG, Ayodele Oke confirmed the money belonged to them and that the presidency through the NSA was aware of the funds. CBN confirmed it was part of the $57 approved for NIA. How can a security outfit keep millions of dollars in an apartment, not its office or bank? Anyway, the Security Chief was sacked after an investigation.
These are the flashes of what Nigerians can remember about the office of the NSA which are not complimentary. Will the coming onboard of Nuhu Ribadu change the trajectory? Given his intimidating credentials, one will think so and so far he is beginning to change the narrative of ONSA.
These are perhaps some of the sterling qualities of Nuhu Ribadu: As Chairman of EFFC, he effectively dismantled the cybercrime that Nigeria became known for. The kingpins were either apprehended or ran away. He reported the then minister of health taking a bribe of N50m and was sacked. His Co traveller the senate president Adolphus Wabara was impeached. 3 elected Governors were impeached based on his report on their monumental fraud. He diligently investigated his overall Boss, the IGP Tofa Balagun who was Jailed for embezzling the sum of N13b through corruption and money laundering.
Why was he removed by late President Umaru Yar’Adua? For fraud? Not. From the grapevine, Yar’Adua took his pound of flesh because it was said that OBJ asked Ribadu to write a security report on presidential candidates. Ribadu wrote that Yar’Adua was not medically fit to handle the challenges of the office of the president, but despite that, some OBJ still insisted on Yar’Adua being the president, and when he became the president, Nuhu Ribadu, and El Rufai were targeted for persecution. They eventually had to leave the country in exile.
Despite all these, 5 solid reasons have convinced me that he did his job well as an anti-corruption czar. One, James Ibori bribed him with the sum of $15m! He collected the money, paid it to the treasury, and still investigated him. Shocking that Yar’Adua ganged with Ibori to humiliate him. Secondly, the high-profile leaders that he investigated and jailed. Thirdly, for his services, he was recognized internationally. In 2018, Ribadu was one of the 8 people recognized globally for anti-corruption and was honored. He was the only one from Africa. It was held in Malaysia and coincided with anti-corruption day 9th December. Fourthly, his efforts were acknowledged by the late Gani Fawehimi. In the entire history of Nigeria, I doubt if there’s anybody who abhorred corruption like Fawehimi. For him to commend Ribadu, speaks volumes on this man’s trajectory as a corruption fighter. Gani Fawehimi condemned the removal of Ribadu and accused the government of Yar’Adua of subverting the anti-corruption war. Fifthly, Ribadu never used EFFC to settle scores or to be used for ethnic or religious purposes.
There was clamour for the then Governor of his state Boni Haruna to be investigated and jailed for political reasons. Ribadu thoroughly investigated and never found him wanting.
It’s with these high-profile achievements that Ribadu is coming to the office of Nthe SA. It’s my firm conviction that he will use this office to not only clean the Augean stable but dismantle the humungous security challenges to the country. Luckily out of the four people that PBAT listens to, Ribadu is one. He will therefore have no reason to fail us NSA. These are security challenges.
Number one is the despicable corruption going on in the armed forces. Money meant for the procurement of arms is not properly utilized. It’s either they are not bought or obsolete ones are bought. Closely related is the dehumanizing way the rank and file of armed forces are being treated. They are not properly kitted, especially soldiers fighting insurgency. Their allowances are either partially paid or not paid. The equipment and arms issued to them are not as sophisticated as that of the rebels. Some officers sabotage the war efforts by working for the insurgents. NSA must get to the bottom of these problems bedeviling the armed forces and ensure they are rooted out.
Number two is the use of technology to fight crime and insurgency. Recently, Major Al Mustapha, the former CSO to Abacha said there is no satellite in the entire Sambisa Forest. The only way to defeat BH and other crimes is the use of technology. It was technology that was used to trace Bin Laden who was killed. Once technology has been used to gather information on the movement of insurgents and armed bandits, tracing them and killing them won’t be a big deal.
Crude oil theft has to be addressed through intelligence gathering. The security agencies, especially the Navy are culpable. All hands must be on deck to get to the bottom of this economic sabotage to deal decisively with the culprit.
NNPC is a nest of corruption and economic sabotage. That the leadership of the company is still presiding over its affairs is shocking to Nigerians. NSA should urge the president to order forensic auditing of NNPC, especially in the area of spending a colossal sum of $25b on TAM refineries and not a drop of oil.
There are other sundry security issues, but these are the immediate causes. The remote cause is poverty. A hungry man is an angry man. All hands should therefore be on deck to pump money into job creation in MDAS like ministries of Agriculture, industries, etc. Similarly, humugous funds should be voted to fight ignorance which means the reinvoragation of the educational sector. A situation where 20m of children are out of school is not acceptable and a monumental security threat to the country.
These are synopsis of the challenges facing the new NSA and given his pedigree, he is capable of surmounting them. I’m sure a lot of people have their misgivings about Ribadu which is understandable. Nobody is perfect except God, but note that given our environment, anybody that scores 40% in Nigeria is 80% in Europe and America. Let us encourage those who have contributed meaningfully to national assignments and found themselves saddled with them again to discharge such onerous tasks to the best of their ability.
May God help the new NSA to handle the task before him transiently, with patriotism and above all with the fear of God.