PMB, NSA and the peril of toxic advocacy




Globally, non-state actors and civil society organisations (CSOs) have been acknowledged as critical stakeholders in moulding and shaping of public policy and global discourse. Their support for policy setting, adoption of legislation and development cooperation is essential to promoting fundamental principles and rights.

In this context, many of these non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have initiated and partnered with governments to solve societal problems. Such is the role of CSOs to social growth and development.

Sadly, some civil society organisations have become harbingers of mischief as well as citadel for brewing confusion and anarchy. In Nigeria, operating a civil society organisation has become an all-comers affair where a man who has no business in CSO, but wants to be relevant would quickly rush to the Corporate Affairs Commission, (CAC), register mundane association and start polluting the country’s media space with baseless, frivolous and fallacious press statements. Unfortunately, instead of ignoring such charade, some online media would go ahead to publish or air their stories, thereby bloating their false ego.

This is the lowest watermark some advocacy groups have brought civil society advocacy in Nigeria to. The price for being irrational in this regard must go to the Human Right Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA). Though HURIWA had hitherto earned popularity for interrogating government’s activities, its latest outburst about the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen Mohammed Babagana Monguno, and service chiefs is theatrics carried too far.

In a press statement issued recently, HURIWA called on President Muhammadu Buhari to sack NSA Monguno, all his service chiefs, the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), and the Inspector-General of Police for gross incompetence and for crass dereliction of duty.

“President Muhammadu Buhari ought to stop his frequent lamentations over his failings in the area of security because that is not why he was elected but to take immediate and comprehensive measures to dismiss any or all of his service chiefs now since they have manifested through their actions and inactions that they have not got what it takes to defeat terrorists just as the security Chiefs most of whom are Moslem Northerners are behaving like they are aiding and abetting the successes recorded so far by Islamic terrorists and the Fulani terrorists,” the group stated.

From the above excerpts, it is clear that HURIWA is ignorant of security issues. Instead of seeking help or further clarification from proven experts, HURIWA decided to expose its gross ignorance to the wider world. Is HURIWA so bereft of knowledge of global security concerns? Perhaps, Onwubiko and his lame HURIWA may not be aware that a total of 113 terror attacks took place in Europe alone in 2021, and globally, a total of 5, 226 terror attacks took place, with 7,142 fatalities.

Come to think of it, how many security chiefs were sacked during the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on Pentagon and World Trade Centre in the United States? Who was sacked during the May 22, 2017 Manchester Arena bombings in the United Kingdom where 22 people were killed?

Insecurity has become a global concern and not a Nigerian thing. Like CSOs do in the US, UK and other developed countries, instead of putting heads together with the government on how to mitigate attacks, HURIWA’s preoccupation is centred on making certain persons unhealthy subjects to scapegoatism. How would sacking NSA and security chiefs help the country? How do you change a winning team in the middle of a game?

From its past track records in advocacy, HURIWA cannot be suffering from collective amnesia to have forgotten so soon how bad Nigeria’s security situation was before President Muhammadu Buhari assumed office on May 29, 2015. On assumption, the president appointed NSA Mongonu. As of today, is Boko Haram or any terrorist organisations holding an inch of the country’s territory unlike in the past when they captured territories, hoisted their flag and declared a Caliphate? Is Jos, the Plateau State capital, still on fire today? What about the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, where bombs were just flying and exploding everywhere?

If Europe and America, with all their Hi-Tech crime fighting gadgets and well trained police, still faces terror attacks, who are we? The security agencies are doing their best with many of them paying heavy price. The least groups like HURIWA can do is to stop inciting the people against our security. I know it is working to earn the approval of donor agencies so as to qualify for grants, but they should know that there is a country before they ply their trade.

One thing they have failed to realise is that global security architecture is so challenged. As an intelligence expert I have had the privilege of working closely with security agents in the famous MSS, which functions as China’s intelligence, security agency and secret police, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of the United States, the British M16, and the Russian KGB. One thing I know is that these agencies had to redouble their efforts in containing and sustaining peace and social order. Nigeria is the worst hit because of the impact of the fall of Gaddafi’s regime in Libya and the receding of Lake Chad which have contributed to the tense security situation in our country.

We have the models of today’s administrative brochures of countries in Western and Eastern Europe, including Russia, Brazil, and Germany. No organisation in these countries will call for the sack of their national security adviser and service chiefs. Those sponsoring such calls in Nigeria must be told the bitter truth that they can’t intimidate NSA Mongunu and the service chiefs to be involved in illegal financial or miscellaneous deals. It is for this reason that NSA Monguno came up with the National Security Strategy (NSS) and constituted a committee to check against small arms proliferation.

HURIWA only succeeded in stripping itself naked in the market in order to prove a shallow point. Must we go that route or to that extent? Has advocacy groups tried to engage authorities in a constructive manner, offer useful suggestions, and they were turned down? No! They won’t do that because their motives are not genuine or pure.

The cabals sponsoring the calls for sack of the NSA and service chiefs are disgruntled because under Buhari, they have been caged and no more have the opportunity to feed fat from the arms deal. With NSA Monguno in the saddle, they can no longer penetrate the service chiefs to carry out illicit activities to ensure financial flow from arms deals the way they did under past administrations. What one would have expected from HURIWA is to lead a campaign to bring those involved in the arms deal scandal under the previous government to book.

Another issue raised in the statement was Buhari’s globetrotting. The question begging for answer is, should Buhari remain in Aso Rock and expect foreign investors to come to Nigeria? Globally, presidents are the chief marketers of their countries. The confidence of investors is boosted when the president of a country appears in business meetings and conferences. The recent visit by President Buhari to Portugal will suffice. On that trip, President Buhari and his Portuguese counterpart agreed on the need for Nigeria to take a commanding lead in addressing the energy crisis in Europe.

Let it be known to mischief makers that after seven years in the saddle, it is safe to report that never before has Nigeria witnessed a drastic modernisation of its security architecture. Never before has Nigeria seen seamless synergy between its security agencies. In such a short period, our security details have moved from the archaic model of executing operations to sophisticated and cutting edge security operations, which have pushed back crimes and criminality.

It is no wonder that Nigeria has continued to defy the projections and predictions of doomsday analysts who thought that by now the country should be history. Instead of disintegration and bloodshed as anticipated, the United Nations, European Union, African Union and governments of leading countries have continued to applaud Nigeria for holding on and waxing stronger.

Ibrahim is director, Communications and Strategic Planning, Presidential Support Committee (PSC)

Related content you may like