Averting The Debacle AT NIA

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    By Muhammad Ado Fili
    The intelligence cycle and indeed many Nigerians were apprehensive that the efficiency and efficacy of the National Intelligence Agency NIA may be drastically eroded with the unceremonious sack of its erstwhile Director General, Ambassador Ayo Oke. Described as one of the finest brains in the cycle, Oke was sacrificed for failing to convince President Muhammadu Buhari, the appropriateness of stashing $43.3 million in a private residence. But relief came the way of officers and other workers of the agency when, Ambassador Mohammed Usman, an equally fine brain like Ayo Oke was appointed, albeit in acting capacity.
    Established in 1986, in response to growing need for international intelligence gathering and security connectivity, the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, has not been known for controversies until the Osborne towers cash find. Expectations were very high at the agency that the Acting Director General, Ambassador Mohammed Dauda was going to be confirmed, given the fact that, not only is he the most senior officer in ranking at the agency, but that he discharged his functions so well, that Ayo Oke’s absence was almost not felt.
    It was rather a rude shock for many Nigerians, as it was to the officers and men of the NIA that, President Muhammadu Buhari declined confirming the Acting DG, ostensibly on the prompting of some powerful individuals around him, who have their eyes on some undisclosed money belonging to the agency. The suspicion in some quarters was that the new DG who served as the secretary of the panel that investigated and recommended the sack of Ayo Oke, may have struck a deal with the so called cabal to serve as their mole.
    Many Nigerians have faulted the president: some on moral grounds and others on credibility and competence grounds, which the new appointee allegedly lacks. With the appointment of Abubakar Rufai Ahmed, his kinsman from Katsina state as a replacement to the Acting Dg, Mohammed Dauda, who is the darling of staffers of the agency, the President may have shot himself in the foot, against the backdrop of criticisms that he practices nepotism in governance by appointing people from his native area into positions at the expense of the federal character principles.
    If reports in the media are true to the effect that the new DG has a record of failures, besides possible divided loyalty to more than one country, one may be right to surmise that, the NIA may be in trouble with its new helmsman. It is even being alleged that having worked at the OIC for more than fifteen years even as a staff of Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Ahmed may be a spy for some foreign nations who have interest in undermining Nigeria’s development.
    Findings from some staff of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, who prefer anonymity reveals that the National Intelligence Agency, NIA is too sensitive to be headed by the newly appointed Director General, Mr Abubakar Rufai Ahmed, which was neither on merit nor was it appropriate as he allegedly left the Public Service under controversial circumstances, having failed to pass promotion exams three times.
    There have been allusions to a possible conspiracy by people very close to President Muhammadu Buhari, often referred to as the cabal, who pushed for the new DG’s appointment to advance their personal interests and to give them access to an undeclared $44 million stashed away somewhere, which President Muhammadu Buhari does not seem to know about.
    Findings reveal that the N43.3 Billion earlier recovered from Osborne Towers was just a fraction of a larger haul, which the Acting DG, Ambassador Mohammed Dauda may have refused to cooperate with the cabal in sharing and that was why his appointment was not confirmed even as the most senior officer in the service with a track record of service, not yet matched in the NIA.
    It is common knowledge amongst officers of the agency that, the Acting DG, who will be retiring from service by September 2018 refused to throw his enviable career on the line by refusing to tamper with the remaining funds, which may have angered the cabal, hence they plotted to foist the new DG, despite his apparent foibles, so as to be able to spin him.
    Tempers have continued to rise across the country, especially in the South West where the immediate past substantive Director General, Mr Oke comes from, and from amongst professionals who see Ambassador Dauada as a more competent replacement. Staffs of the agency are not also impressed with President Buhari’s new appointee, as they prefer Dauda’s confirmation.
    To them, the DG who served as the secretary of the panel that investigated and recommended the sack of Mr Ayo Oke does not qualify to be appointed on moral grounds, They also argue that contrary to service doctrines, the new DG’s own mother is a Chadian, and his wife is also a Moroccan. In any of the security and intelligence agencies, where an officer’s allegiance and loyalty could be in doubt due to origin or maternal association, such an officer cannot head any of the agencies.
    Records indicate that the new DG also spent more than ten years at the Organization of Islamic Conference, OIC, on secondment contrary to rules guiding secondment of an officer to any organization to which Nigeria is a member. The rule provides that an officer can be seconded for only two years, renewable, making a maximum of four years. Mr Rufai Ibrahim, having spent more than ten years at the Organization of Islamic Conference, OIC, is in breach of conventional requirements of the head of the NIA.
    Those who wrote the script and gave President Muhammadu Buhari to read were most uncharitable to Nigeria and to the NIA. Except if the President has a longer agenda, or as it seems was deceived into appointing the new DG, Nigerians will continue to ask questions as to why the Acting DG, who has discharged himself so well in the absence of Oke was denied confirmation. The uneasy calm in the NIA as the new DG, Ahmed takes over may be enough signal for the President to save his face and save Nigeria by reversing Ahmed’s appointment quickly.
    …Citizen Ado writes from Malali, Kaduna