The renewed air of hope and optimism that has characterised the President Muhammadu Buhari’s presidency can be attributed to the competence of his team, especially the National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Gen Mohammed Babagana Mongonu and the president’s chief of staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari.
Without pinch of doubt, these men tower above their equals in their various professional callings. While Gen Mongonu is a deft security/intelligence czar, Prof Gambari remains a time-tested diplomat, and a socio-economic icon.
For Gen Mongonu, no doubt, the role of intelligence gathering in a nation’s security architecture cannot be overemphasised. That is where the dexterity of the Chief Spy Officer lies. As a man who has spent quality working years in the intelligence community, organising a viable security system for Nigeria is like a walk in the park. Before he took over as the National Security Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, the security architecture was in a total mess but five years down the line, the story is different. Noose has been tightened around terror groups terrorising Nigerians.
However, worried by renewed banditry attacks in Katsina, the visit of the NSA to the state alongside ministers; the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Muhammed Adamu; the director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS), Yusuf Magaji Bichi and the director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ahmed Rufai Abubakar is a welcome development. “We need to build and restore the confidence of the local community and we had necessary reassurance from the state governor,” Monguno stated during that visit to Katsina.
The least anybody can do now is distracting the office of the NSA. All Nigerians need to cooperate with the appropriate authority to check insecurity in the country. This advice is also within the backdrop of the recent move by the governors of the 19 Northern states to engage the services of local hunters, vigilantes and community watch groups on intelligence gathering, rapid response and sustained surveillance in the region.
Chairman of the Northern States Governors Forum (NSGF), Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State said already, the forum has set up a committee to commence the recruitment of hunters and community watch groups.
But I agree with security experts that this initiative, though laudable, will not serve the purpose of taming insecurity without the input of the NSA. The thinking is that the local hunters and vigilantes are not trained to do so and may even turnout to be willing tools in the hands of bandits and kidnappers.
There has been a dramatic shift in intelligence priorities and requirements since the appointment of Gen. Cumulatively, this has reflected in improved security atmosphere in the country.
With a formidable team, consisting of Gen Mongonu and Prof Ibrahim Gambari, the president is now delivering the dividends of democracy, strengthening institutions and making life meaningful for Nigerians. This has also led Nigeria to contributing significantly to the peace and social order of the African Continent.
Having almost defeated the terrorist groups and all territorial extensions returned to the sovereignty of the nation. We must be objective, it is incontrovertible that what is obtainable today is far than in 2014 when lives all around Nigeria were becoming poor, nasty, brutish and short. Lest we forget so soon, 17 local government areas in Borno State alone were under the control of Boko Haram with their flag firmly hoisted.
Increased intellectual activities have led to high profile arrests like the dare-devil kidnappers, Chukwudi Dumee Onuamadike and Hamisu Bala Wadume, among others.
The ingenuity and courage of the NSA must be commended for confronting and winning the fight against insurgency. From records, General Monguno is a renowned security expert and a retired Nigerian military general. He was the Chief of Defence Intelligence from July 2009 to September 2011 and the Commander of the Brigade of Guards from 2007 to 2009.
Monguno, as the National Security Adviser from 2015 to date, has acted in his best capacity, recovering the local governments controlled by the Boko Haram Terrorist group, and ensuring that Nigerians put the nightmare of Boko Haram behind them. This is the greatest height of professionalism and it could be said of the NSA to be the best choice of President Buhari, for courageously doing his work.
Each administration has always set the guidelines for intelligence activities and, within these guidelines, establish in a timely fashion specific requirements and priorities for the conduct of those activities.
Under Gen Monguno, the Nigerian intelligence community is saddled with two broad functions—collection and analysis—and one relatively narrow one, covert action. An additional function, counterintelligence, is integral to the entire intelligence process.
For Prof Gambari, if character and competence in public service is what we need, Prof Gambari has these in quantum. He maintains dual personae as a reputable statesman: locally and internationally. His contribution to making of the Nigerian nation is unquantifiable. More than anyone else, Prof Gambari has contributed immensely to the fine tuning of global politics and development. This explains why his appointment as chief of staff drew so much applause for President Buhari.
Back to the NSA, as a deft intelligence officer, Gen Mongonu remains an indispensable expert in intelligence collection, compilation and analysis. He has effectively adopted going gray approach, which refers to the art of blending in, but it goes much deeper than that. It has helped to infiltrate the ranks of Boko Haram.
The idea is that if you are fluent in a variety of languages, it allows you to fit in with a range of cultures without stirring suspicion. Another added advantage is if you are a proficient storyteller, often based on a broad education and first-hand experience with different kinds of people.
Instead of the hitherto Bravado approach to intelligence gathering, Gen Mongonu has relied heavily on the most important aspects of spying, which is collecting relevant information.
Throughout his years as an intelligence officer, Gen Mongonu has paid keen attention to further training in how to collect, evaluate and disseminate vital information. Throughout his work life, Gen Mongonu has developed the quality of paying close attention to details and be able to compile and retain meaningful and relevant data. Intelligence agencies look for a strong record in academics to determine observational behaviours
As Nigeria’s number one spy master, Gen Mongonu has a natural, adaptable and high functioning ability to interact with others. Social interaction as a spy will take many different forms, requiring you to be comfortable associating with the entire spectrum of personality types.
– Ibrahim is director of communication and strategic planning of the Presidential Support Committee (PSC).