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Yushau Shuaib is the ideal candidate to serve as President Tinubu’s NSA



Names are being mentioned, primarily in security and media circles, regarding the person President Bola Ahmed Tinubu is most likely to select as Nigeria’s next NSA. Babagana Monguno, a former general and the longest-serving NSA, is currently in office.

Other serving security and intelligence chiefs, in addition to former Chief of Army Staff and Minister of the Interior Major General Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd) and retired police chief and first Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, are being mentioned as potential candidates.
The question of whether the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) is primarily reserved for those with a military history and those who are preferred to be in the rank of a general in the nation’s armed forces, whether they are still on active duty or have retired, is a major source of discussion.

The military’s primary duty and mandate is the defense of the territorial integrity of the state and its interests against external armed threats or aggression, despite the fact that the majority of former and current NSAs have been retired Army officers.

President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan signed into law the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011, as revised in 2013, in response to the threats posed by terrorism. The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) is designated by the Act as the government’s central organization for coordinating security and law enforcement efforts.

In accordance with this Act, the ONSA is also given the authority to “support and ensure the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive counterterrorism strategy and build capacity for the effective discharge of functions of relevant security, intelligence, law enforcement, and military services.”

The National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST), developed with the cooperation and support of international partners, skilled academics, and chosen non-state actors, was unveiled by Nigeria’s then National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd), on March 18, 2014. It represents Nigeria’s soft approach to combating terrorism.

Dasuki, who served as NACTEST’s facilitator and enabler, claimed that the organization’s goal was to prevent violent attacks before they happened while also anticipating and addressing the conditions that make people turn into terrorists in the first place.

The countering violent extremism (CVE) strategy consists of a vertical program involving the three levels of government—federal, state, and local—as well as a horizontal program that engages with civil society, academics, traditional, religious, and community leaders in an effort to halt the radicalization trend.

The Dasuki-led ONSA’s identification of the soft approach to combating terrorism gave Nigeria a framework detailing the roles and responsibilities of each sector of society in terms of job creation, poverty alleviation, and economic development.

The ONSA includes significant professional competencies from the military, law enforcement, intelligence agencies, financial controls, international relations, and bilateral and multilateral engagements. The ONSA weighs the pros and cons of using either hard or soft powers to combat terrorism and other security concerns when providing advice to the president.

While using military force or threatening to use it is a common strategy for dealing with problems, soft power is a strategy that addresses issues by using economic and cultural influence to dissuade others from undesirable tendencies like immoral behavior. This is the opposite of using force to get a result that can be more wholesome and lasting.

It is important to note that the concept of “national security” is permeated with a variety of security issues. In order to counteract various risks and harmful circumstances, they include economic security, energy security, cybersecurity, environmental security, health security, and food security.

Mukhtar Yau Madobi, a top-notch graduate and defense researcher, writes in his book National Security Strategies that “national security does not only comprise the protection of lives and properties of people but also goes into a wider dimension. It covers, among other things, security in the areas of politics, religion, culture, society, the economy, infrastructure, and food and agriculture.

As a result, it is not surprising that Americans, who served as Nigeria’s model presidential government, chose non-military methods of ensuring national security. These are serious specialists with comprehensive knowledge bases on matters of national security from a variety of academic, research, and intelligence fields.

It is more uncommon than common to nominate somebody with military experience to the position of national security advisor in the US. General Colin Powell served as the NSA under President Ronald Reagan. Brent Scowcroft served under President Gerald Ford and later President Bush (Sr.). James Jones served as the NSA’s director for one year during President Barack Obama’s first term.

Many of the US NSAs have no military experience despite being knowledgeable about national security issues. While some of them had intelligence backgrounds and were diplomats, others were academics, lawyers, and other professionals.

Some of them included Condoleezza Rice under President Bush (Jr.), Susan Rice under President Obama, Robert Charles O’Brien (Jr.) under President Donald Trump, and Jacob Jeremiah Sullivan under the current President Joe Biden. Others included George McBundy under President Kennedy, Walter Rostow under President Johnson, Henry Kissinger under President Nixon, Zbigniew Brzezinski under President Carter, and Condoleezza Rice under President Bush Jr.

Political patronage cannot be satisfied by the NSA. The appointee is expected to have in-depth knowledge to offer precise advice, as well as the ability to coordinate state security issues, diplomatic efforts, economic policy, and the intelligence services, all in the interest of a peaceful and prosperous nation that is fully committed to a holistic sense of national security.

There is nothing improper if any of the individuals typically put into the aforementioned positions are equally considered for the ONSA, even if the offices of the Chief of Defense Staff and Minister of Defense are already reserved for serving and retired military personnel, respectively.

When selecting candidates for sensitive positions like the NSA, President Ahmed Tinubu should take into account the candidate’s background, courage, accomplishments, sincerity, and dispositions in addition to the federal character principle. Such a person can also promote cordial agency cooperation rather than the sporadic antagonism seen in previous years.

Shuaib is the author of “An Encounter with the Spymaster” and “Crisis Communication Strategies”