In the recent past, if there is a decision made by the Buhari administration which has generated so much venom from greater section of Nigerians, it must be the appointment his kinsman and an alleged failure Ahmed Rufai Abubakar as the Director-General of National Intelligence Agency, NIA.
The President has before been accused for his alleged brazen nepotism or cronyism in previous appointments, which his handlers have always defended albeit lamely, saying the President made his appointments based on track-records and competence.
Suffice it to ask, however, where lies the logic of “competence and track-record” in this latest case when a person who is not competent enough to pass promotion exams twice is appointed to head Nigeria’s intelligence agency? Why will a person with questions on his nationality be appointed the head of this strategic agency?
It is public knowledge that Abubakar was born and raised in Chad. Abubakar’s father and mother lived and died in Chad, and a number of his close relations still lives in the country.
In puncturing the narratives further, one asks why would a young boy of primary school age attend a primary school in Chad if his parents were not resident there? Was his parents on diplomatic mission in Chad that they enrolled him in a school at Port-Lamy, Ndjamena? Your guess is as good as mine. If, as one of his hatchet handlers wrote implying that Abubakar was actually taken to Chad by his uncle who went there to seek Islamic scholarship, how come then that he ended-up, putting him in a primary school in Chad. What an irony for an Almajiri to take his (baby) Abubakar away from the comfort of his parents house at that tender age, and take him to far away Chad, with all the harsh conditions and hostile environment, just to end up enrolling him into a primary school.
The questions to ask include among s others, what sense does it make for an Islamic Mallam himself (the uncle) to enroll his teenage nephew in a Boko school when he went to Chad purposely to seek for Islamic education, And as an Islamic Mallam, does he even have the wherewithal, like, house, job, resources, family, food and the required documentation to enroll young Abubakar in western (Boko) school, which he, most likely does not even believe in?
It makes one also curious to know if as a Islamic scholar, who took care of young Abubakar during his primary and secondary school days in Ndjamena, his uncle took with him his wife along too. Again, why would an Islamic scholar who went to Chad in quest of Islamic education, want to enroll his nephew in a French speaking primary school at that age, knowing that Abubakar is a Nigerian – from English speaking background.
Did Abubakar’s uncle an Islamic Mallam had the necessary residency permits to enroll his child (a foreigner) into a school that needs all prerequisite documentation for all foreigners to get admission? Did Abubakar’s parents allowed the uncle to take him to Chad and enroll him in a school there, because Chad has a better education facility than Nigeria?
Historically, the traffic for all Islamic scholars has been from Chad to Borno to learn Islamic education, and not the other way round, as Borno was known all over the sub-saharan Africa as the center of Islamic scholarship. How then is it that his case is the reverse of the situation, at that time. It sounds very unusual and curious to carry Abubakar whose parents were supposed to be alive at that time, to allow their four year old son to be moved over 1000km across the Sahara, to go in search of something that he can get free and better quality, with someone who may not even believe in Boko education. I am really curious.
Security insiders say that when he transferred his service from Katsina State to NIA in 1994 during Ambassador Zakari Ibrahim’s tenure as D-G, his questionable background was altered, just as security vetting on his place of birth, dual nationality, marriage to a non-Nigerian etc were waved by the D-G.
Another dent that Abubakar’s appointment may bring to the NIA is his exposure to politics (PEP). A top spymaster who pleaded not to be named argued that “a politically-exposed person with clear political allegiance should not be the D-G of NIA, not even an employee of the agency”. He said President Buhari should redeem the image of the agency by appointing competent hands with no questionable background or political exposure, to man the agency, the President is creating another round of controversy, scandal and exposure to public in an agency that is still smarting from trouble.
It will be recalled that after the submission of the Osinbajo-committee report on the $43m discovered by EFCC at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi Lagos, the president appointed a review panel headed by Babagana Kingibe, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Three former Directors General of the NIA, Albert Horsfall, Zakari Ibrahim and Ezekiel Oladeji served as members, while Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs/International Relations and now substantive D-G of NIA, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, served as the secretary.
Less than a month after submission of the Kingibe panel report, the President curiously appointed Mr Abubakar as the substantive Director-General of the agency, sparking debates that the new external security boss was not competent enough to head the agency. Sources said even Vice President Yemi Osinbajo kicked against the appointment, while insiders believe Abubakar cannot be a judge in a matter in which he had unreserved interest.
It is morally, ethically, legally and politically reprehensible and incorrect for someone who is a member of the Presidential Review Panel (PRP) to end up putting the “crown” on his head after skewing all the necessary conditions and recommendations of the committee to suit his eventual ascension to the throne. The field is very far away from being level. This is in fact a rocky field.
How can someone who left the service as a Deputy Director for whatever reason come back through the back door to preside over the affairs of substantive directors who earned their promotions legitimately? In a para-military organization like the NIA, does it look and sound reasonable? Can’t we foresee the possibility of insubordination, disloyalty, sabotage and bad blood by these disgruntled directors? Is this kind of intelligence and security outfit we want in this country.
Even his vetting, which was supposed to be comprehensive and holistic, was waived for Abubakar by Ambassador Zakari. For example, all NIA Officers spoken to, agreed that the team that vetted him did not go to Chad, as part of their assignment, which means, there is a wide dark area of his life that was not vetted, e.g. is it even true that he attended a primary school in Chad?, Did he have legitimate residency permit while in Chad? Who was his guardian there? Was it a Nigerian or Chadian, was his father in Chad then or not? Was his mother a Nigerian or Chadian? The lack of all these information made his vetting incomplete and therefore his employment a nullity. So he should not even have been an NIA staff in the first place.
Since what we are trying to avoid is unnecessary controversy and to ensure that the issue of divided loyalty is forestalled, the best thing to do now for the government is to temporarily suspend the DG until a thorough investigation is conducted by an impartial umpire, so that this raging controversy can be doused in the national interest. Whatever is the case, it is apparent that Abubakar has sufficient interest in Chad, that can make his sympathy tilt towards Chad on issues involving that country. Our sources indicated that Abubakar has lived in Chad continuously for not less than twenty years.
The President should, in the spirit of the Unity of Nigeria, reverse this appointment with immediate effect, as the appointment clearly shows, the insensitivity of this government. How can the Heads of the two most sensitive security agencies, be headed by two retired officers from the same state, which also happen to be the same with the President. What happens to reason, equity, fairness and Federal Character. Mba O Mr. President Mba.
Citizen Ado writes from Malali, Kaduna.