The essence of periodic examination or assessment is to determine performance and also to identify areas of success and where to improve upon. At the time President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Yusuf Bichi two years ago as the Director-general of the Department State Services (DSS), it was unarguably a very low moment for the department.
There was dire need for the appointment of a leadership with charisma, courage, candor and dexterity; one with the acumen to stare the Service back to the path of a sustainable future. That era was full of controversies on who ordered for what operations.
While the inconsistency galore lasted, President Muhammadu Buhari, an expert in recruiting credible hands, reached and dragged Yusuf Bichi out of retirement to come and salvage the situation. Almost two years after, evidence, it is said, is the end of argument.
Looking back at the concatenation of events in the two years as it relates to the fine-tuning of Nigeria’s security strategy, you will discover that a lot of impetus has been injected into the security operation of the DSS.
Conversely, the seismic shift from bravado and grandstanding, which almost dented the image of the service before Bichi was appointed has given way to meticulous approach to solving security questions. The trend now is professionalism in the plotting, calibration and conduct of the security roadmap for Nigeria.
This new narrative attracted the attention of a Geneva-based organisation to extend an award to Yusuf Bichi. After the 2019 presidential election, an election monitoring group known as the International Human Rights Commission, Geneva, Switzerland, honoured Bichi with an award. According to the group, “the award was in recognition of the exemplary performance by the Service and its personnel during the just concluded 2019 general elections.”
On scale, Bichi has upped the DSS performance of its statutory functions to the Nigerian State. In terms of its core role of counter-intelligence, internal security, counter-terrorism, and surveillance as well as investigating some other types of grave crimes against the state, the DSS has performed excellently well under Bichi.
In its duty of protecting the senior government officials, particularly the President and his family, and state governors, the DSS has also proven its mettle.
According to the 1999 Presidential Proclamation, the DSS operates as a department within the presidency and is under the control of the National Security Adviser. In this regard, the DSS under Bichi’s leadership has contributed immensely to the ongoing fight against insurgency in the North East, banditry in Katsina, Zamfara, Kaduna, Niger etc., especially in the areas of intelligence gathering.
One remarkable style of leadership by Yusuf Bichi is the elimination of bravado and grandstanding. There are many mind- blowing covert operations the DSS has carried without Nigerians knowing. For Bichi, the crux of his duty is not to announce everything he sees but to ensure that Nigerians are protected and safe!
One of such manifested in the sudden disappearance of kidnappers on Kaduna-Abuja highway. Before Bichi was appointed, things got so bad on that axis that even the high and mighty were helpless. Thousands were kidnapped, with many of them killed, not counting the billions of naira paid out in Ransome to the kidnappers.
Here is the game changer: the heightened intelligence gathering mechanism of Bichi’s administration in the State Service has been major breakthrough in the infiltration of kidnappers den, while high profile arrests have been made. Now travellers can travel on that road without qualms. This is what makes Bichi’s style different.
Suddenly, the DSS that was battling under the yoke of criticisms by Nigerians, due to unprofessional handling of operations has suddenly found its rhythm and Nigerians are once again clapping for the DSS for jobs weldone.
Under Bichi, the DSS is no longer law unto itself but has become exceptional in obeying court orders and upholding constitutionalism. In the sad past, Nigerians had grouse with the DSS. Today, the story is different, all thanks to Yusuf Bichi’s conviction, professionalism and strict respect for the rule of law.
In collaboration with operatives of the Intelligence Response Unit of the Office of the Inspector-General of Police, the DSS was able to supply the information that led to the rearrest of the notorious kidnapper, Hamisu Bala, widely known as Wadume, two weeks after he was freed by soldiers from the custody of the police in Taraba State. Under Bichi, the prosecution is going on diligently to ensure justice is served.
These footprints of Bichi is not coming as a surprise to those who are familiar with his track record. He began his career in the Security Division of the Cabinet Office in Kano State from 1981 to 1984. In 1984 he joined the defunct Nigerian Security Organization (NSO), the precursor of the present State Security Service, now renamed Department of State Services, where he rose to the rank of Director.
He served as State Director of Security in Jigawa State (1998 – 1999), Niger State (2000 – 2003), Sokoto State (2003 – 2005) and Abia State (2005 – 2006).
Subsequently, he served as Director in the National Assembly Liaison (2006), Directorate of Security Enforcement (2007 – 2008), Directorate of Operations (2008 – 2009), Directorate of Intelligence (2009 – 2010), State Service Academy, Lagos (2010 – 2013), SSS Research Development Centre, Bauchi (2013 – 2014), Directorate of Inspection (2014 – 2015), Directorate of Administration and Finance (2015 2017).
This is not a record that can be dismissed with a wave of hand. All that is required is the support of all and sundry to ensure that Nigeria and Nigerians are kept safe.
– Ibrahim is director of communication and strategic planning of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC).