By Zanna Al-Ameen Usman
On Wednesday, August 10 2022, a group called Arewa Youth Assembly staged a protest in Abuja and gave President Muhammadu Buhari two weeks to sack the National Security Adviser (NSA), General Babagana Monguno (rtd) if the latter refused to resign or face nationwide protests.
The speaker of the group, Mohammed Salihu Danlami, made the demand via a letter he wrote to the president wherein he sought for “effective response from government.”
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In a democratic space, lawful and peaceful protest is allowed. That is the beauty of it. In the same spirit of democratic space, people are free to agree or disagree on such stance as that of the Arewa Youth Assembly. To be honest, no doubt, there is insecurity in the country and everybody is concerned. I am too. I am equally seriously concerned as the Arewa Youth Assembly averred that “nowhere is safe in Nigeria.” It is hugely disturbing. Lives and property are being wasted; people are subjected to harrowing experiences caused by horror and trepidation following banzai attacks by terrorists. This is really sad, I must admit. It is worrying that terrorists are becoming bolder by carrying out daring attacks on both soft and hard targets. We need to do better really to end it.
However, it is false, if not sinful to claim that the NSA is responsible for the level of insecurity in Nigeria today. I reject this claim in its entirety because it is devoid of reason, rationality, substance and truth. I am sure an overwhelming majority of reasonable people will follow my line of thinking. It bears echoing that no doubt, insecurity is having very many negative consequences on Nigeria’s economy, unity, social wellbeing and so on. It is also very true that containment of insecurity is not as Nigerians expected. Even President Buhari himself made it clear at different times that we were not where we wanted to be in terms of securing the country. Concerned by the terrible insecurity situation, the NSA himself not long ago declared that Nigerians were tired of it. So, why does insecurity keep festering?
Not long ago, I watched on television some security experts giving analyses of the causes of, and approaches to ending banditry, insurgency, and terrorism as is the case in Nigeria. The experts contended that for every counter insurgency war to be successful, three basic issues must be provided. They are, as they pointed out: One, personnel/morale. Two, material/weapons. Three, strategy. They submitted that all of the three are distinct and separate from the other and that they only reinforce one another but do not substitute one another. The experts in the end cautioned that even with all the three adequately provided, it would amount to failure where there is sabotage, subversion, collusion or betrayal. I can handily say that all these acts of sabotage and subversion are at play in Nigeria in one form or the other. Under such circumstances, all procedure to palliate will suffer setbacks. Thus, it becomes misplaced to accuse the NSA of being the cause of deteriorating security.
On the issue of sabotage for example, Governor Bello Matawale of Zamfara State some time ago suspended the Emirs of Zurmi, Atiku Muhammadu and that of Dansadau Alh. Hussaini Umar, including the District Head of Birnin Tsaba, Suleman Ibrahim for collaborating with bandits in the State. The Zamfara State Government accused the Emirs of frustrating efforts to arrest suspected bandits. Unfortunate and regrettable though. Indigenes of the state are conniving with criminals and bandits to kidnap, kill and or demand/collect ransom from the relatives of captives. Is that caused by the NSA? The answer is NO. People of Zamfara State who keep enduring a lot of tribulations are betrayed by their very own consanguinity. Shockingly, the Emir of Yandoto in Zamfara State, Aliyu Marafa recently had the temerity to turban a notorious bandits’ leader, Adamu Aleru as Sarkin Fulani (leader of Fulani) of the Emirate. Aleru is a fierce and merciless terror top banana who destroyed the livelihood of his own people on an unimaginable level. The Emir has been suspended by the governor too. Additionally, the Emir of Maru in the same Zamfara State, Abubakar Cika was removed from office for supporting gunmen accused of attacking communities and killing several people in his constituency. Can those atrocities be linked with the NSA? NO! Similar acts of connivance with criminals are very rife everywhere in Nigeria. Therefore, it is a misdeed to misjudge such a great personality like the NSA.
Still on the issue of fifth columnist and saboteurs, I recall that in Kastina State, in May 2021, the District Head of Kanakara, Yusuf Lawal was suspended for alleged complicity in terrorism. This was disclosed by the Secretary of Katsina Emirates Council, Bello Ifo who said a committee that was set up to investigate the matter, found Yususf Lawal guilty of aiding and siding with criminals including kidnappers operating in the Kankara axis. Furthermore, the former Chairman of Jibia Local Government Area of Katsina State, Haruna Musa Mato was arrested by the Kastina State Police Command for links with bandits who kidnapped three hundred and fourty four (344) students in Kankara in December 2020. Still, in September 2021, three women: Umma Bello (45 years old), Nusaiba Muhammad (16 years old) and Dija Umar (50 years old) were arrested by the personnel of the Katsina State Police Command for supplying bandits with petrol. The suspects have confessed to the crime. What about the unbelievable, shocking, disgraceful, immoral, shameful and scandalous story of a woman, Maryam Abubakar (39 years old) that took her two daughters aged seventeen and fifteen to bandits in the bush as sex slaves and were given fifty thousand naira each for a night of sex? What an abhorrent decadence. Maryam said she did all that for money.
The Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, recently decried cases of collusion of some members of the Armed Forces with terrorists and bandits. Recall the case of Lance Corporal Jibrin Biu of the Nigerian Army Battalion in Gaidam, Yobe State, who not only gave information to boko haram terrorists but repugnantly took part in deadly raids they carried out on innocent Nigerians. Jibrin was tracked and arrested by Army Intelligence Officers. Knowing the likely consequences of his actions of betraying his country, Jibrin, being a marksman and sharp-shooter, seized a gun from his colleague and killed himself. Is it then proper to single out and blame the Chief of Army Staff, CDS or the NSA for Jibrin’s actions? It is wrong to do so.
Let me make the point that I am not NSA Monguno’s reputation manager. In fact, I never met NSA Monguno in my life. But as someone who trusts his heart, I decided to come clean on the matter and say it as I understand it. I remember what late Double Chief Duro Onabule, President Ibrahim Babangida, IBB’s, Chief Press Secretary told me in 2003. I told Chief Onabule that IBB himself cautioned that he (Chief Duro) took it easy a bit as the truth about him (IBB) and his government would prevail no matter how long it took. Yet, Chief Duro was undaunted. Double Chief taught me some great lessons. He told me look, always stand for what you believe in (truth) even if it would cost your life. He further observed that in any case, one would die saying the truth or otherwise. Thence, I got huge inspiration from my dear great mentor and teacher, Chief Duro Onabule who was not a hypocrite and was very honest, frank and straightforward.
It is logical and wise that we exercise maximum restrain when making accusations so as for us not to mischaracterise people. This is exactly what Arewa Youth Assembly did not do by maligning an exceedingly respected and highly rated NSA, General Babagana Monguno. I am optimistic history will vindicate NSA Monguno. Naysayers on the official conducts of a great personality like General Babagana Monguno should be mindful of what Piers Anthony said: “When one person makes an accusation, check to be sure he himself is not the guilty one. Sometimes, it is those whose case is weak who make the most clamour.”
NSA Moguno is one of the finest military generals ever in Nigeria; exemplary in public and private conducts. General Monguno is known for unswerving nationalism in his service to our fatherland; he is endued with the spirit and spine to do right at all times. He has the puissance to continue in office. His determination to choke off insecurity remains reassuring. NSA Monguno is absolutely loyal to his country and discharges his official responsibilities with uttermost zeal. My assessment of him is that he is mentally sound and fit; psychologically prepared and emotionally balanced to carry on.
Zanna Al-Ameen Usman, a journalist and former national secretary, United Nigeria Peoples Party (UNPP)