By Jibril L. Gude
In the last one week, the news about military operations in the war on terror especially from the North West geopolitical region of the country is cheering to every patriotic Nigerians. The reports coming from the epicenter of banditry, I mean Zamfara, extol the gallantry and restores confidence of Nigerians in our fighting troops.
This was made possible by the ingenuity and purposeful leadership of the governors from the zone with Governor Bello Muhammed Matawalle blazing the trail. For the first time since 2015, we are recording tremendous success in our efforts against banditry. We are now convinced there is victory in sight.
In all of these, we have seen governors living up to their duties, we have seen the military doing its job, and we have seen Nigerians urging them on and giving them the much-needed support, but we have not heard a word from the National Security Adviser. The silence from him is deafening such that we begin to see a man not alive to his responsibilities.
While I stand to be corrected, the last time anything newsworthy was heard about or from the National Security Adviser was when he was flexing his muscle in his bid to enforce a “no fly zone” in Zamfara State which the reality on ground suggested it was not a decision taken with premium interest on national security, but pettiness and cluelessness.
This is not the first time the competence of Babagana Monguno is being questioned as it is on record that president Muhammadu Buhari had to issue a directive to him in January 2021 that he should come up with a pathway to ending the resurgence of banditry, which has continued to cost the lives and displacement of thousands of families from their town and villages. This came on the heels of the correspondence of the Speaker of Zamfara House of Assembly, Nasir Magarya, to Mr. President.
Also in a bid to jolt him back to life from his comatose state, the Zamfara State House of Assembly had to pass a “Vote of No Confidence” on him, rather that rise up to his responsibilities, sponsored articles were published on some platforms arguing that the NSA is not an appointee of Zamfara State Governor or Government, but what they failed to acknowledge is the fact that Zamfara and Nigerians are paying dearly for his absenteeism from work.
In the wake of the abduction of over 300 schoolgirls from the Government Girls’ Secondary School, GGSS Jangebe, in Talata Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State, a group named Northern Youths Movement (NYM) raised some questions over the activities of the Nigerian military and also demanded the immediate sack of Babagana Monguno as the National Security Adviser.
In its position, the group further stated “We are also aware of the request for the release of $1 billion by the National Security Adviser (NSA), General Babagana Monguno. This is apart from the $1 billion taken from the Excess Crude Account in 2017 and budgetary allocation for the military in the 2021 Budget,” The group said that the attack may not be unconnected to the fact that the Zamfara State Governor Bello Matawalle had opposed the NSA’s demand.
As if these were not enough, his recent actions and inactions are unpardonable. When governors of Zamfara, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Niger and Sokoto came up with the “blockade” policy in a bid to strangulate activities of armed bandits by cutting off their supply chain of basic needs, rather than compliment their efforts by advising and seeing to the enforcement of closure of our international land borders, nothing of such is in place.
Rather than engage the media through periodic briefings, detailing the activities and efforts of Federal Government in view of the recent development and also engage civil societies and non-governmental organizations, the NSA seems unconcerned and uninterested about the progress made so far or its success. If the NSA had done the aforementioned things, the move by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) which saw the group approaching the Court over the shutdown of GSM network in Zamfara State would have been averted, unless the move satisfies a mischief of his.
During the time of the former service chiefs, it was observed frequent clashes between the NSA and top military brass had caused a serious setback in the war against insurgency. The same thing is paying out again today, with the country’s service chiefs briefing the president without the NSA. Until we find a National Security Adviser who will be in the thick of things, until we have an NSA who is not missing from his duty post and actions, we should be cautious in our celebration of the envisaged victory, it might just be an illusion.
Mr Gude, public affairs commentator, writes from Abuja.