17th February, 2020
A power tussle for the control of Nigeria’s security chiefs between the National Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno and President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff, Abba Kyari has shown why Nigeria’s security chiefs have been ineffective and yet sitting pretty in office.
Monguno in a letter dated 9 December 2019 accused Abba Kyari of meddlesomeness in national security matters. Ordinarily, Kyari should have no role in the area, but it appears, he has been playing the surrogate for President Buhari by holding meetings with the security chiefs, without the involvement of the official that they should normally discuss with.
The letter was published by Premium Times on Monday.
There was no indication of how long this absurdity has been going on, but Monguno appears eager to end the anomaly, hence his warning memo to all service chiefs to desist from taking further directives from Kyari.
Mr Monguno said Mr Kyari’s directives to service chiefs were sometimes issued without the knowledge, much less approval of the president, a practice he said has added to government’s failure to contain insecurity.
“Chief of staff to the president is not a presiding head of security, neither is he sworn to an oath of defending the country,” Mr Monguno, a retired major-general, said in the letter.
“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 continues meddlesomeness by the chief of staff have not only ruptured our security an defence efforts but have slowed down any meaningful gain that Mr President has sought to achieve.”
Mr Monguno’s letter comes as insecurity returns to centre stage as a major cause for worry among Nigerians.
The president has repeatedly promised to curb the crises, many of which he met in office, but has largely and embarrassingly failed like his predecessors.
The most important significance of the letter is that President Buhari, as the commander-in-chief has ceded his job to Abba Kyari, despite photo-ops showing him holding meetings with service chiefs.
PDP, reacting in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan said Monguno’s statement had validated its position that Buhari had abdicated the responsibilities of his office. The party called on Buhari to resign since it appears the nation has been on autopilot.
“Following Monguno’s revelation, we reiterate the earlier position that President Buhari should waste no further time in relinquishing his position as President since it is now obvious that he has become overwhelmed by official duties.
“The PDP holds that security is the most important element of governance, followed by the welfare of citizens and since President Buhari has relinquished these statutory responsibilities, he has no other reason to remain in office.
“The NSA’s letter further exposes the fact that our nation has been on autopilot under President Buhari, whose abdication of serious matters of state is directly responsible for the untold suffering, anguish, pain and escalated insecurity in the country.
“The PDP describes the Gen. Monguno revelation as a national tragedy which showcases the fact that Mr President Buhari has become so irredeemably overwhelmed to the extent that the responsibilities of his office, including presiding over very sensitive security matters, have now been taken over by his Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, who functions as a de facto President.
“Nigerians are invited to note the verdict by the NSA, who, in support of the position of the PDP, affirmed that such situation is responsible for the failure of the government to defend Nigerians and find a solution to the worsened insecurity under President Buhari’s watch.
“Our party recalls that even the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, had severally alerted that strange elements had usurped the functions of the president and urged Nigerians to speak out for their country.
“It is now clear that the demand by Nigerians calling on President Buhari to resign was borne out of patriotism and love for our country,” the party said.