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Buhari’s security credentials dented by feuding officials

By Oluwatosin Adeshokan
Posted on Tuesday, 3 March 2020 07:52

Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, February 9, 2020. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

In a scathing leaked memo from Nigeria’s Aso Rock, Buhari’s Security Adviser, Major General Babagana Monguno, attacked Chief of Staff Abba Kyari essentially accusing him of working against the president.

The letter by the National Security Adviser warned the President’s Chief of Staff against meddling in the security affairs of the country while also warning the country’s service chiefs to “stop taking orders from Kyari and be wary of his interference.

Why it matters

Buhari ran and won Nigeria’s presidential elections twice on the platform of defeating Boko Haram.

But despite Abuja’s claims that Boko Haram has been technically defeated, there have been several recent attacks by Boko Haram on Nigerian soil.

The intensity of the attacks led to federal lawmakers reaching a resolution calling for the president to sack the current service chiefs and even a senator asking the president to resign.

  • According to Monguno, “the Chief of Staff to the President does not direct security apparatus of the Federal Republic of Nigeria — his job as it relates to security stops at conveying Mr President’s written directives.”

The service chiefs and other officials had been holding meetings with Kyari, a process that Monguno believes says contradicts the constitution.


Insecurity in Nigeria has risen at an alarming rate in recent years.

Apart from the activities of the resurgent Boko Haram in Nigeria’s North-East, there have been the infamous herder-farmer clashes and several cases of killings and kidnappings, with security operatives now targeted.

In a recent visit to Borno state, the President of Nigeria was booed by the residents decrying the problem of insurgency, a state that gave the president 836,496 votes; over 90.91% of votes.

But the presidency has said Nigerians “have reasons to be grateful as the security situation is better than it was before Mr Buhari assumed office.”

  • According to Femi Adesina, a spokesperson for the President, “We know what the situation was as at 2015 and we know what it is today. Despite the reversals in security, it is still not as bad as it used to be in this country.”

In some communities in Niger state, bandits imposed a 4pm to 7am curfew.

  • “Perhaps in Abuja they have a plan, but right now, there is nothing showing that the government has any plans for how to deal with the rising state of insecurity,” according to Caleb Olorunmaiye, a policy analyst who thinks due process is important. “There is no constitutional power given to the Chief of Staff [to allow him to] take over security meetings ahead of the National Security Adviser”, Olorunmaiye explains.

In 2019, The National Broadcasting Commission suspended the licence of Daar Communications Plc, owners of the African Independent Television, AIT and Ray Power Radio for failure to abide by the Commission’s directives by acting “ in a manner detrimental to national interest.”

  • This focus on the communications aspect is “creating the illusion that Boko Haram had been defeated,” says Olorunmaiye.

According to Premium Times, the publication that leaked the memo from Aso Rock, the journalist that reported on the rift in Abuja has been forced into hiding.

The Editor-in-Chief of the publication had his residence staked out by Nigeria’s secret police.

The secret police has denied the allegation.

Bottom line: The Federal government needs to figure out its leadership and organisational problems while also looking for new ideas on how to shake up the security apparatuses in the country to defeat its many security problems.

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