BY AMOS DUNIA, ABUJA – There is a seeming cold war and ongoing battle for supremacy in the affairs of the nation’s security between the National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Monguno (rtd) and the Chief of Staff (COS) to the President, Mr. Abba Kyari.
The National Security Adviser seems not to be comfortable with what he considers “unnecessary dabbling, interference and outright hijacking” of security matters by Kyari, who is believed to be taking advantage of his position as the gatekeeper to the President to issue directives in outside his area of competence.
Mongonu in a memo, noted that such acts and continuous meddlesomeness by the Chief of Staff have not only ruptured the nation’s security and defence efforts, but have slowed down any meaningful gain that Mr. President has sought to achieve.
Towards this end, the NSA has fired the salvo by directing the Service Chiefs and other heads of security agencies from taking directives from the Chief of Staff to the President.
It was however gathered that Kyari seems to be enjoying the favours of the President and thereby seems to have garnered an upper hand in the game of wits.
The development is believed to created serious mishandling of the security control of the country as NSA Monguno, whose office is statutorily assigned with the coordination of the nation’s security is now being sidelined in the scheme of things.
Forefront gathered from dependable sources that the seeming sidelining of the NSA has created some void in strategic thinking and planning in needed security operations.
Further checks indicate that the NSA Monguno is concerned that Kyari with no experience in security matters has consistently breached laid down rules and procedures by dishing out directives to Service Chiefs and heads of other security agencies by acting as if he is the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces. The NSA, it was gathered, is particularly concerned that the Chief of Staff to the President convenes and presides over meetings of defence, security and intelligence agencies with their supervising Ministers in attendance.
To check the development which is seen as inimical to national security, Monguno, in a circular dated December 9, 2019, with the title; “Disruption of National Framework by Unwarranted Meddlesomeness,” pointedly accused the Chief of Staff of deliberately usurping the functions and powers of the office of the National Security Adviser and those of Mr. President.
In the circular that was copied to all Service, Intelligence and Security Chiefs including the Ministers of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior, Police Affairs and the CoS to the President, Monguno accused Kyari of issuing two circulars dated September 13, and November 26, 2019, with contents and directives that were clearly at variance with the President’s directives.
Monguno specifically said that what Kyari was doing remains an aberration, stressing that he is not in any position expected to preside over national security meetings nor competent enough to determine and manage the nation’s security architecture and trajectory.
The NSA did not stop at that as he warned Kyari to desist from continuing such actions just as he directed the 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.
The NSA’s letter reads in part; “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 is head of 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.”
However, while reacting to the NSAs memo, the President is believed to have responded to Monguno to “mind his business and focus on his job”.
Another source at the Presidency said that the NSA created the vacuum that enabled Kyari to take over some of his schedule of duties owing to his constant absence at critical times as he is believed to be out of the country at the slightest excuse.
The development is said to have created a lot of mutual suspicion and bad bold which is directly having impact on the nation’s security arrangement and policy directive.