By Zayyad I. Muhammad
For 24 years, most Nigerians were only familiar with one style of operation by their National Security Advisers (NSA)—a regimental style—because of the complete military background of the previous NSAs. Having NSAs with military experience is an excellent idea, but some critical situations require looking at things from different angles, including outside-the-book approaches.
The coming of Nuhu Ribadu as Nigeria’s National Security Adviser is a paradigm shift and a systemic and systematic approach by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Tinubu brought not only a person that he understood but also a person who understood his steps. It’s a kind of quality assurance.
Because for two decades, Nigerians have been used to one style, they need to be educated from a layman’s perspective. NSA Nuhu’s style will and must always be soft and hard, silent and loud, publicly and secretly, unique and ordinary because of his background, training, and experience—an excellent police officer and an anti-corruption czar who has gone through the mills of his fields.
Before his appointment and signs that he would be President Tinubu’s NSA, some people thought de-marketing and painting him black would deny him the position. They forgot that security matters; it goes beyond politics when dealing with goal-getters like Tinubu. It’s a matter of the quality of Nuhu Ribadu and Tinubu’s philosophy on exceptional human resources.
The National Security Adviser manages Nigeria’s security on behalf of the President, and he is the chief advisor on all matters vital to Nigeria’s very survival.
The big questions are: has Nuhu Ribadu brought on board something new, being a new face with different backgrounds from the previous NSAs in 24 years? Has Nuhu Ribadu been able to separate politics from policy? He has actively participated in politics before now. Has Nigerian security improved under Nuhu Ribadu?
Analysing security issues and their managers is often difficult, or rather futile because the gains achieved in a decade can be wiped away within a few minutes by one senseless act by terrorists, bandits, or common criminals. Nuhu has brought something unique: Nigerians are being informed of happenings in the fight against criminality, the NSA is now visible when required, confidence has been built, and resources are appropriately distributed while separating needs from wants. Under NSA Nuhu Ribadu, kinetic and non-kinetic approaches are being applied to tackle the security challenges in Nigeria. Inter-agency synergies are now a key in the security architecture.
Furthermore, all security agencies are being reformed and reinvigorated to play their role in internal security effectively. At the same time, the military is being freed from the burden of performing both its constitutional role and that of the police, thus allowing it to concentrate on external security fully.
Politics and man are like love and humankind—they co-exist. Human beings must always love something; the same is true of politics: once one knits tight with politics, they live together. Even his adversaries must admit that Mallam Nuhu was able to separate his office from politics, knowing fully the enormous responsibilities on his head, and Nigeria and the world are keenly watching him. Furthermore, Mallam Nuhu has been able to drive the ONSA back to its original status as a National Security Vehicle, not the sad belief that it is a kind of ‘big pot ‘for politicians to scoop from.
Silently and interestingly, NSA Nuhu is building a strong interface among all the security agencies. Roles are being defined to allow seamless work to achieve one goal: the peace of the country and its people. Mallam Nuhu is piloting and overseeing security through the eyes of a well-trained security czar who understands both the hard and soft approaches.
Inter-agency collaboration has improved; ordinary Nigerians now view the NSA as just for security only; NSA words now not only matter but work. An example is the recent off-cycle governorship election in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi states. Mallam Nuhu assured Nigerians that the governorship elections would be conducted without interference. And it was. This is how NSAs work—their worlds translate into actions and results.
Zayyad I. Muhammad writes from Abuja via email@example.com.