Opinion

Monguno: Saint among sinners

It appears some people do not want this scourge of terror to end. Each time someone of repute tries to draw attention to the gaps in our security offensive and proffer solution on how to end the insurgency and allied security matters, such a person is either scolded or tagged a merchant of trouble. Yet, every day,

 

the nation slides into deeper trouble, with no sign of abatement. National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, a retired Major General, has fallen victim of this orchestrated onslaught against the voices of reason.

 

For an interview he granted BBC Hausa Service recently in which he referenced the on-going war against terror and allied crimes, he got a shellacking in the media.

 

It was not the first time. Rewind. February, last year, the same NSA came under heavy campaign of calumny for pointing out yet another anomaly. This time, it was about his being excluded from security briefings which he alleged in the letter were summoned at the behest of the late Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, without his consent.

 

That underscores the dysfunction within the nation’s security apparatchik. To properly situate the functions and imperativeness of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), it’s apposite to situate its history and duties in other climes with more successful and sophisticated security architecture.

 

Obviously, Nigeria copied the ONSA from the United States APNSA (Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs) which is more popularly referred to as the National Security Advisor (NSA). Created in the US as recent as 1953 in the Cold War era under the National Security Act of 1947, its duties include to coordinate defence, foreign affairs, international economic policy, and intelligence.

 

The NSA reports directly to the US President and it’s the duty of the NSA to brief the President on security situations regularly, especially in periods of emergencies and war. Within the United States security structure, the NSA is regarded as the person who has the ears of the President at all times, at the shortest notices.

 

It’s regarded historically as the mother security office that birthed the creation of the Department of Defence and the Central Intelligence Agency. The NSA chairs security meetings in the absence of the President. That’s how critical the office is.

Largely advisory, the NSA sits atop all the security agencies, monitoring operational efficiencies and strategies. He holds regular meetings with the heads of security agencies and he’s the first and last person to talk with the US president on matters of security.

 

No compromise! In Nigeria, the architecture is in many ways the same. The NSA has (or should have) the ears of the President at all times. Anything outside that is an aberration.

 

Nigeria is not known to be entangled in wars whether internal or external like the US which maintains troops presence in virtually all parts of the world, but the raw audacity and siege of terrorists on the nation in recent years demands that the nation must up her game in military strategies, war tactics, combat readiness with regard to hardware stockpile and intelligence gathering.

 

This was the veiled inference Monguno was making on both occasions when he had to write to the President or make explanations to probing journalists. He was pointing out the obvious gaps in the war against terror and adjunct crimes.

 

He was explaining why the war has lingered atrociously. His explainer to the reporter on the state of the war and why it has dragged was not to indict any person but to allay the fears of Nigerians and to stress the commitment of President Buhari in the national quest to win both the war and the battle against insurgency. Monguno, himself, is a thoroughbred military professional. By nature and by training, he’s not one to flap or let loose his tongue.

 

Calm, taciturn and betrays no emotions even at moments of intense pressure. A man of the character of the NSA who runs away from headlines and media blitzkriegs suits his job.

Aside the two incidents which grabbed the headlines, the NSA has remained largely self-effacing, limiting himself to his office, the president’s office and strategic international trips.

 

You won’t find him frolicking at rendezvous, hobnobbing with politicians or making political utterances. A man with such stealthy and furtive attributes fits the bill as NSA. It hardly needs stressing that whenever a man of such sly and coyish disposition voices any concern, he should not be ignored.

 

Truth be told, there is something wrong with the manner Nigeria is prosecuting the war against insurgency such that what was limited to the north east has insidiously spread to all parts of the country with the insurgents adding the vicious acts of abduction, rape and brazen robbery into the mix

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