Monguno: Saint among sinners

Monguno: Saint among sinners
NEW SERVICE CHIEFS & NSA MONGUNO OUTLASTING ASO VILLA CABALS *BY OLALEKAN ADIGUN It's no longer news that one insider who fought the Aso Rock cabal to a standstill is Rtd General Baba Gana Monguno, the National SecurityAdviser to President Buhari. That is if you dont count the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo who was the cabal's main target. While the Vice President continues to win the praise of the President openly and publicly despite the cabal's many attempts to rupture their relationship, the NSA also has retained the confidence of the President who has refused many attempts by the cabal led by late ABBA Kyari to remove him outrightly. So when remnants of the late Kyari penned a missive in the media recently saying the NSA is an unhappy, the question cropped up: Is Maj.-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), the NSA truly an unhappy man? What will make anyone believe that a man admired by many majorly for his courage and determination, even in the face of adversity,  be unhappy despite overcoming challenges and several attempts to undermine him? Monguno earned the respect of many when he stood up courageously against influential individuals -known as the Cabals-in the seat of power not minding how they might try to rid him of his position as NSA. It is however baffling to note that anyone will misconstrue such an expression of genuine concern and the love for country as sadness or disillusionment with the setup at the time. Calling him sad at a time such as this (when a new set of service chiefs are on board) is a deliberate attempt to sow a seed of discord between the new service chiefs and the NSA. MONGUNO’S CONCERNS Although a recent online report described Monguno, as "the unhappy national security adviser”, those close to him disagree, affirming instead that his competence earned him the respect of the President, particularly for speaking out against what was clearly becoming an aberration in the security architecture of the country. A close associate of the NSA who spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed that Monguno’s concern was never prompted by his desire to gain personal benefits or seek cheap popularity as President Buhari’s silently influential NSA. His dissatisfaction with the conduct of former service chiefs was purely based on professional grounds. It is this his dissatisfaction that is being used to portray Monguno as a sad aide to the President. “In fact, what is manifesting today can be traced to the power tussle between the late Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Mr Abba Kyari and the NSA, Babagana Monguno. The CoS had usurped Monguno’s role as a security adviser and dished out operational orders directly to the service chiefs without minding the implications of his action especially as the situation in parts of the country deteriorated,” Monguno’s associate added It was indeed an open secret that Kyari had made several attempts to challenge the authority of Monguno to effectively coordinate the activities of security and defence organisations in the country.  A source in the presidency who was quite familiar with the frosty relationship between Monguno and Kyari, confirmed that late Abba Kyari had even devised several tactics to destabilize the NSA, including enlisting the services of a section of the press to anchor the media arm of his plot to undermine the powers of Monguno who had rejected several overtures to jeopardize national security and the sovereignty of the country. FEUD BETWEEN KYARI AND MONGUNO It was learnt that Kyari’s grudge against Monguno started during the probe of money found at an Ikoyi apartment allegedly owned by the NIA under the watch of its former DG, Ayo Oke. The NSA was one of the dissenting voices against the late CoS. He resisted all attempts by Kyari to divert the NIA funds and mislead the President on its handling. According to the presidency source, while Monguno had dismissed attempts by Kyari to take custody and control of the money, the NSA had insisted that the money be deposited at the CBN, hence the fight between the two trusted aides of the President started and persisted until the demise of the CoS in 2020. Frustrated by Monguno’s unwavering stand against plans by the CoS to shortchange the system, Kyari launched several attacks against the NSA, including sending several damaging reports against the NSA to the President requesting for his sack from office. Another anonymous source in the presidency disclosed that President Buhari who is very satisfied with Monguno as NSA had at several times rejected propositions by the CoS to fire him. Specifically, in Dec 2019, an incident was reported of how President Buhari angrily sent Kyari away when he approached him (the President) again with a memo proposing the replacement of Monguno with Lawan Daura former DSS boss as NSA. At about the same time, the late Kyari was also scheming to remove President's Media Adviser Femi Adesina and had already instructed another Villa official to be playing his role while reappointments for the second term where in progress. "Kyari then refused to process NSA and the Media Adviser's reappointments. It was an open secret then at the Villa," a source noted. MONGUNO’S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE SERVICE CHIEFS Many are not aware that the President had in fact become tired of Mr Kyari’s antics and was determined not to renew his appointment but for the intervention of some influential traditional rulers whom the late Kyari had ran to for help to secure his job at the take-off of the second term. Evidently, Kyari’s meddlesomeness in the operations of the service chiefs became a regular feature and the results were obvious for all to see as security operations were poorly coordinated. The lackluster attitude of the military in the fight against insurgency and banditry in the country was attributed to the cold war orchestrated against the NSA. At some points, the service chiefs refused to honour meetings called at the instance of the NSA for fear of being punished by the late CoS. A source at the NSA’s office disclosed that a clear manifestation of the frosty relationship between the NSA and service chiefs was the redeployment of senior Army officers away from the NSA’s Office by the then Chief of Army Staff, without any justifiable reasons, amounting to gross insubordination in military and security parlance. Severing NSA's formal ties with the service chiefs was one of the ploys devised by Kyari to whittle down the power and influence of Monguno as NSA and then portray him as incompetent. Monguno’s cordial relationship with the present set of service chiefs is an indication that there was indeed no re-definition of the role of the NSA as wrongly insinuated in a recent online report. The new crop of service chiefs enjoy a cordial relationship with the NSA which is needed for the successful prosecution of the ongoing operation against insurgency and banditry across the country. Indeed the NSA said last week at a press briefing at the Aso Villa that since the appointment of the new service chiefs he has already met them severely, something that late Kyari effectively frustrated with the old service chiefs. The resurgent attacks on the person of Monguno is a strategy by remnants of the Cabal to renew the plot to axe him as Nigeria’s National Security Adviser. As has already been explained via a statement from his office, the NSA was misquoted in an interview with the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Monguno was quoted to have said that the government was not aware of how monies meant for the purchase of arms were spent under the immediate past Service Chiefs and could not also trace the arms they claimed to have bought. But the statement noted that the NSA did not categorically say that monies meant for arms procurement were missing under the former service chiefs. According to the clarification, NSA office noted that “we would like to state that the NSA was quoted out of context, as he did not categorically say that funds meant for arms procurement were missing under the former service chiefs, as reported or transcribed by some media outlets from the BBC interview. “During the interview, the NSA only reiterated the Federal Government’s commitment to deal decisively with insecurity and stated President Muhammadu Buhari’s continued commitment to providing all necessary support to the armed forces, including the provision of arms and equipment.” Clearly, the ploy to remove Monguno from office has not been discarded by his detractors. They are relentless in seeking avenues to extend the unhealthy rivalry that existed between the NSA and the former service chiefs to the new helmsmen of the armed forces. Fortunately, Monguno, a seasoned professional, remains unperturbed. Having survived previous attempts to remove him from office, his disposition to doing the right thing cannot be changed by a mere propaganda to portray him as power drunk and seeking personal gains. Happy or unhappy, the NSA remains focused on the job. And if feelers from the Presidency is anything to do by, the retired General Monguno continues to enjoy the confidence of the President. Said a Villa source "the new Chief of Staff being a tested diplomat and international public servant is working in tandem with the NSA, and even Mr. President is relieved that his trusted aides are now on the same page." What cannot be denied today is that Monguno now has a good working relationship with the new military service chiefs and he has survived the antics of the Cabal so far. Let's hope all these will yield better security outcomes for the country unlike before. Olalekan Adigun is a Lagos based Public Affairs Analyst
Babagana Monguno,

By Gongbeat Ken

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, everyday, 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 ongoing 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.

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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.

Currently, Nigeria wears a notorious badge on matters of terror and cybercrime. In the 2020 Global Terrorism Index, Nigeria ranks third, only after Afghanistan and Iraq. Syria, Somalia, Yemen and India even have better record on terror than Nigeria. Sadly, it’s getting worse despite the huge budgets right from the era of Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as president. The nation is slipping deeper into the nadir of insecurity. Fear is everywhere. The pleasure of road trips has turned to pain. Businesses have shuttered because of insecurity. Uncertainty is the enemy of investors. Because of insecurity foreign direct investments have dropped significantly. When factories and other businesses close shop, jobs are lost. Poverty multiplies and desperation heightens. Allied to this is a surge in crime and criminality.

Monguno is the archetypal saint among sinners. Those who vilify him for alerting the nation to a structural dysfunction in the security apparatchik obviously do not mean well for Nigeria. The war against insurgency has cost the nation blood, human blood. It has cost money, stymied the economy, stunted education and learning, polarised the nation along traditional fault lines of religion and ethnicity, chased away investors and cast a pall of fear across the land. Every well-meaning Nigerian wants an end to it. Monguno is merely echoing the voices of these well-meaning Nigerians. His is a patriot’s rousing, jarring us out of our self-induced numbness.

The loud and strident call on President Muhammadu Buhari by Nigerians to change the service chiefs was a clear evidence that public trust in the security agencies to contain insurgency had waned considerably. Those who throw jabs at Monguno should look to the gory statistics. Students in their scores and hundreds are abducted from schools in Kankara, Jangebe, Dapchi, Chibok…a long list. Does this give Monguno’s critics pleasure? Do they profit from this fight against insurrection such that they don’t want it to end? Monguno seems to be walking alone. But it’s normal in abnormal times. These are abnormal times in Nigeria’s march to nationhood. Monguno should not be discouraged. The voice of righteousness is not measured by its loudness, it’s measured by its purity.  The NSA should count it all joy when they unleash the flood of persecution and victimisation on him. That is the price a saint pays among sinners. But at the end, the wind shall surely blow and the hidden rump of the fowl shall be exposed. Time is always pregnant.

*Gongbeat,  a natinal affairs commentator, writes from Abuja

The post Monguno: Saint among sinners appeared first on Vanguard News.



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