Nigerian President Stays Silent On Status Of Top Security Aide

Uncertainty shadows the status of Babagana Monguno, one of Nigeria’s longest-serving national security adviser, as the President stays silent on his re-appointment.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has remained silent over the re-appointment of Babagana Monguno, his top security adviser. 

Monguno has served more than six and half years amidst increasing insecurity across Nigeria.

In July 2015, President Buhari appointed Monguno, a former Defence Intelligence Chief and retired Army Maj. Gen. as his National Security Adviser (NSA), a senior cabinet position responsible for carrying out a wide range of tasks including advising the President on matters of national security. 

The announcement in 2015 also included heads of the country’s military branches who were subsequently replaced in Jan. 2021, after sustained public outcry over their prolonged stay in office and the continuous escalation in violent crimes and conflict. This was complicated by a lack of communication on the status of their tenure until they were finally disengaged.

Since his re-election in 2019, the President has maintained silence on tenure renewal or extension for his most senior security adviser. 

“This has been the tradition of this administration,” says Kabir Adamu, a security expert, noting that the President is supposed to announce his re-appointment or otherwise.

The responsibilities of the office of the NSA (ONSA) are enshrined in the  National Security Agencies Act (Cap 278 LFN) initiated in 1986 as the institutional framework for the country’s intelligence services as the coordinator on national security.  The office is also empowered by the Terrorism Prevention Act, to support the prevention of acts of terrorism. 

Over the last six and half years, the NSA has been involved in a series of dramas and frictions largely linked to his inability to exert influence where necessary.

In March 2021, TheCable reported that President Buhari had further reduced his capacity by stopping him from issuing instructions to the military and police chiefs. The report also disclosed details of an earlier presidential directive that prevented the NSA from purchasing arms worth $2.51 billion from the UAE. 

This was after the late Chief Of Staff to the President Abba Kyari had observed anomalies in a 2017 deal with Abu Dhabi-based International Golden Group. The NSA was reported to have also reinserted the same company in a police equipment purchase contract in 2019.

The Abu Dhabi company is mentioned in a 2017 laundering scheme report and a report on arms transfer to UAE-backed Libyan warlord General Khalifa Haftar. In Feb. 2020, it was revealed by Premium Times that 23 Army officers including three generals working at the office of the NSA were withdrawn. The incident occurred a few weeks after Monguno was said to have written memos on what he regarded as the late Chief Of Staff, Abba Kyari’s “meddlesomeness” in security affairs.

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Murtala Abdullahi

Abdullahi Murtala is a researcher and reporter. His expertise is in conflict reporting, climate and environmental justice, and charting the security trends in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. He founded the Goro Initiative and contributes to dialogues, publications and think-tanks that report on climate change and human security. He tweets via @murtalaibin

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