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Post by Ahmed Yahaya-Joe
Beyond the screaming headlines and breaking news in Nigeria recently, following the invasion of the National Senate by operatives of the Secret Service; what is the context and historical background of the recent sack of Head of the Agency responsible, Lawan Daura? Is he a victim or villain of the political shenanigans ahead of 2019 elections?
Security is the first line responsibility of any government. Whoever manages that sector therefore matters beyond our common-place partisan differences. But first an overview.
Aftermath of the attempted Dimka coup of 1976 the then IGP M.D. Yusuf tendered his resignation because he felt personally responsible for the intelligence failure as the nation’s most senior spook. General Obasanjo refused, on the grounds that the nation needed security solutions and not another sacrificial lamb. That was how NSO was birthed. A similar occurrence happened in the US when GW Bush inherited the Clinton era CIA Chief George Tenet, who after 911 tendered his resignation but it was turned down. That was how DHS was also birthed.
The first head of NSO was Aliyu Shinkafi, whom Shehu Shagari inherited from Obasanjo in 1979. Shinkafi was also Shagari’s student in Barewa College. Unfortunately under his watch General Muhammadu Buhari became military Head of State. That culminated into an endless bickering with Umaru Dikko, as recounted by Shagari in his memoirs entitled ‘Beckoned to Call’. Buhari in turn appointed Lawal Rafindadi, a career diplomat as his NSO chief. Another choice that backfired when Ibrahim Babangida, under the radar, outwitted Nigeria’s then security architecture.
By Buhari’s second return to power, he therefore in 2015 appointed a thorough-bred professional; Daura, who was previously sacked by Jonathan to pave way for Ekpeyong, also from the South South like the then president. If so what the dickens happened?
My personal take is that Daura’s case is like that of Ayodele Oke, the immediate past NIA chief. Personal failings rather than incompetence. Then there is ethnicity and religion. Perhaps only Babangida and Obasanjo really understand that security issues transcend primordial sentiments. Bernard Odogwu was head of Biafran intelligence during the civil war but helped Babangida reorganizing NSO into SSS and DIA which he appointed Col. Togun from Ogun and Horsefall from the former Rivers State to head, respectively. Though Obasanjo would again appoint Togun as his DSS Chief, he never had an NSA from the South or even Christian.
No doubt despite the lopsidedness of Buhari’s security appointments they are the right stuff. For instance his NSA was TRADOC and Guards commander and has a Phd from the UK. It is the defence minister that probably has issues because all the service chiefs and CDS reporting to him are his professional superiors. I really feel that is rather awkward in a sector that is obsessed with seniority. Perhaps when Buhari writes his memoirs we might know why he did that. Anyway Shagari’s NSA was Dr. Bukar Shuaib, a Vet and his Defence minister, a former VC for goodness sake! No wonder he was so easily overthrown.
Ironically the first Nigerian Army officer to be trained in military intelligence was Major Chukwuma Kaduna Nzeogwu. So my fellow Nigerians let us look beyond meandering into conspiracy theories, partisanship, wild speculation and suppositions. Let us stay focused on the fundamental issues. Simply Nigeria first and only.