There is an established cold war and ongoing battle for supremacy in the coordination of Nigeria’s security between the National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd) and the Chief of Staff (COS) to the President, Mr. Abba Kyari.
In what seems to indicate that Kyari has the upper hand, a circular from the Office of the NSA accused President Muhammadu Buhari’s COS of hijacking the coordination of security leadership of the country, a role which is legally domiciled in his office.
It was gathered that this has created confusion, lack of adequate leadership and outright side-lining of Monguno in the scheme of things when it comes to strategic decisions in national security operations.
It was revealed that Kyari, contrary to protocols and in a situation akin to acting in the capacity of the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces, convenes and chairs meetings with heads of defence, security and intelligence agencies with their supervising Ministers in attendance.
Things became so heated that the NSA in a circular dated December 9, 2019, entitled: ‘Disruption of National Framework by Unwarranted Meddlesomeness,’ which was sighted by PRNigeria, directly accused Kyari of usurping his powers and those of President Buhari.
Monguno in the circular copied to all Service, Intelligence and Security Chiefs including the Ministers of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Police Affairs as well as the COS to the President, accused him of authoring two circulars on September 13 and November 26, 2019 respectively, with contents and directives which were at variance with Buhari’s orders.
He also noted that what Kyari is doing is an aberration as he is not in any position to preside over national security meetings nor competent enough to determine and manage the nation’s security architecture and trajectory.
To this end, he warned the COS to desist from continuing in this line of action and also directed the complacent security and Intelligence Chiefs as well as the Ministers to follow the established line of authority in national security coordination by the President through the NSA.
Part of the letter read: “References A and B were sent in response to the request for Presidential intervention to sustain Internal Security operations of the police within the shortest possible time. However, the contents of the 2 references were in variance with Mr President’s verbal, directives. Consequently, ONSA scrutinized the documents further and sought clarification from Mr President who has directed that Reference B be disregarded by all parties as it was sent without his endorsement.
‘While it is expected that all Heads of Security agencies, having spent many years in service would understand the means of passing directives from the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, it may be necessary to remind all, in the face of glaring breaches to that procedure. For clarification, other than direct verbal directives from the President, written directives ’emanating from Mr President would be conveyed with a copy of his manuscript directive or at minimum, bear his signature. Additionally, Mr President may convey directives to the Heads of defence and security apparatus through the NSA who Intelligence Community Committee, Joint Intelligence Board and General Security Appraisal Committee on behalf of the President and supervising Ministers of defence and security agencies. It should be noted that the Chief of Staff to the President does not direct the security apparatus of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. His job as it relates to security stops at conveying Mr. President’s written directives.
“Similarly, you are reminded that the Chief of Staff to the President is not a presiding head of security, neither is he sworn in an oath of defending the country. As such, unprofessional practices such as presiding over meetings with Service Chiefs and Heads of security organisations as well as Ambassadors and High Commissioners to the exclusion of the NSA and/or supervising Ministers are a violation of the constitution and directly undermine the authority of Mr President. Such acts and continuous meddlesomeness by the Chief of Staff have not only ruptured our security and defence efforts, but have slowed down any meaningful gain that Mr President has sought to achieve.
“As professionals, you are aware that the security of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requires concerted and centralized effort taking into account internal, external and diplomatic factors. It is therefore detrimental to our collective security that the Chief of Staff who is a non-supervising minister holds meetings with diplomats, security Chiefs and heads of agencies.”
“Pursuant to the foregoing, you are by this letter directed to desist from these illegal acts that serve nothing but the continuous undermining of our national security framework. Any breach-of this directive will attract the displeasure of Mr President.”
But to the utmost disappointment of the NSA, it was revealed that President Buhari had in response to the circular, simply told Monguno to “mind his business and focus on his job”.
Sources close to the Presidency accused the NSA of lacking in both competence and charisma as he is said to be ‘an absentee security adviser,’ especially at times of urgent security challenges.
According to the sources, instead of facing his job, the NSA was accused of always travelling at the slightest excuse out of the country and sometimes with the President.
“Furthermore, during crisis periods the NSA is usually not around because he is travelling therefore making the COS to hold such crisis meetings with the services.
“It was against this back drop that PMB in his response told NSA to stick to your job and don’t give order to the Service Chiefs. The PMB reply was that NSA should stick to his job,” the source noted.
Also speaking to PRNigeria, a concerned intelligence source expressed disappointment at how messy and uncoordinated the nation’s security leadership has become.
All the Service Chiefs including the NSA were contacted by PRNigeria but there was no response as well as inquiries from both the Director of Defence Information (DDI), Brig-Gen. Onyema Nwachukwu, and Director of Army Public Relations (DAPR), Col. Sagir Musa.