In this season of political shenanigans, anything other than a political write-up that will contain permutations of who is in or out of political party primaries at different levels may not necessarily be of interest to editors and our dazed and confused compatriots, who are in a hurry to inaugurate a new government on May 29, 2023 at noon. Nevertheless, the title above is indicative of the corollary of the current political situation which is also linked to our survival, it is the question of security. This is even more evident in the context of what happened in Owo, Ondo State on June 5, 2022.
On one of my many trips to Abuja airport, I was in a taxi early in the morning when the car radio was playing hilarious music. Innocently, I asked the driver to turn up the volume and tell me the name of the musician. He was shocked that I didn’t know the name of the country’s trending musician. The music is called Celebrate Me/Appreciate Me now when I dey alive by Patoranking. Such is the generational gap between the music of the old and the new.
At this difficult time in the country’s history, it is a bit difficult to convince the average Nigerian that any branch of the country’s security and intelligence agencies are actually functioning and can be relied upon if what they read and hear every day is kidnappings, beheadings and ritual murders. It is therefore difficult to write a proper tribute to these officials who must be celebrated, especially when they recently bowed to the services of the National Intelligence Agency, one of the country’s main security and intelligence services. . and possibly all over the world.
It is therefore on the basis of the music of Celebrate Me that I decided to pay tribute to the unsung patriots who suffer day and night and watch both at home and abroad so that we are alive. It was the 1987 intakes of the NIA, among which were my friends, who proved to be pioneering officers of the Service. I knew one of them, the anchor on which I became close to a few. On that basis, I can attest to the fact that they are indeed gentlemen, despite what you have read about the secret activities of intelligence agents. During my many missions, both at home and abroad, I have come into contact with them in tedious situations, never complaining but meticulously carrying out their missions, the first to enter the fray and the last to leave the danger zone.
This month of June (perhaps the 19th) marks 36 years since the creation of the NIA by the regime of former military president, General Ibrahim Babangida (retired). The service remains a pride of the nation, unfortunately, it cannot blow its trumpet. He has accomplished a great deal over the past 36 years. Check the story and learn about Nigeria’s peace efforts in Chad and Somalia that paved the way for Felix Malloum and Siad Barre to live and later died in Nigeria, you will find in NIA more than a footnote of page. The agency was the tip of the arrow in the creation of the Committee of Intelligence and Security Services of Africa. It can now compete favorably with well-established intelligence agencies around the world.
When Federation Attorney General Abubakar Malami said on June 29, 2021 that the country’s security services had assisted in the arrest of a fugitive outside the country, only discerning minds will attest to counter operations. – spying that can only be done by the Service. The NIA projected an image of respectability, professionalism, and hiding until the one or two issues the service has faced lately.
First, the 2017 Ikoyi saga and second, the appointment and reappointment of the current CEO. On both of these issues, I rely on my ‘reliable sources’ and can say for free that the Ikoyi incident cannot be described as sordid because governments use intelligence services for purposes that citizens can not appreciate or understand. Also, the incumbent general manager did not retire because he failed the promotion exams. He passed the promotion exam but was denied a promotion due to the limited number of vacancies for administrators at the time.
Although the NIA does not need any individual to defend it in the public domain since it is capable of doing so, it is pertinent to note that the Ikoyi saga was an unfortunate and regrettable event. It was an interdepartmental rivalry taken too far and history will not forgive the detractors who, in their haste for recognition, flouted caution and nearly sacrificed an entire institution which, even if it did not exist , would still have been created. This is due to the doctrine of necessity that any country worth its salt must have effective intelligence and counter-intelligence services. Ask citizens of USA, UK, Israel, Russia, South Africa and Ethiopia and you will get the answer.
The only regret, according to my friends, who were on duty when the incident happened, was that the then DG NIA did not order his men to use the superior weapons in their possession to defend the assets of the service, the same way Lawal Daura, the former DG SSS, did when the exuberant acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, led the raid on the house of his immediate predecessor. At worst there would have been a firefight and casualties on both sides and at best a tactical withdrawal. I guess lessons were learned and the agency would definitely handle the situation differently in the future.
The main lesson for my friend, however, is not to allow an uninformed and ill-tempered person to lead an arm of government so vital to the economic interests of the country, and not someone who has publicly stated that COVID-19 was the creation of a corrupt mind, thus challenging the validity of science.
Despite the small distractions, let me take this opportunity to pay tribute to the pioneering DG of the service, Radha Raju, who recently turned 80 and by providence enabled the recruitment of my friends into the elite service, mainly based on merit arising from the recruitment competition shortly after the establishment of the service. According to my friend, the youngest and brightest Nigerians were selected from the then 19 states of the federation as pioneer officers in 1987 on equal footing. The number of candidates recruited with respect to my friend remains classified. So they joined the foundation’s officers from the former Nigerian security organization and the former research department of the Foreign Office.
Neither the login was necessary nor the quota system required with regard to the leader AK Horsfall in order to obtain the service on a very solid basis. Some were visiting Lagos for the first time and had to deal with the hustle and bustle of the old capital, including falling from the displacement of the “ubiquitous Lagos Molue”, to which they were not accustomed, with their Babarigas and eating of the amala and the ewedu under the Marina bridge. for the first time. This generation is now out of the system, making way for the second generation, who will hopefully live up to the expectation of the founding fathers to have a foreign intelligence service capable of defending and promoting national interests. from Nigeria.
While members of the Armed Forces, Security Forces, and Department of State Services agents can be seen and not heard, NIA agents cannot be seen or heard and remain so even in death. They live the cover throughout life and death. Imagine such a sacrifice that in your lifetime you can speak only of a nebulous office like your employer or at best the presidency and even in death your obituary the rest. Therefore, allow me to call upon the remaining NIA Class of 1987 to report for recognition and a well deserved rest as they retire from service. 35 “gbosas” for your years of service and 36 “gbosas” for the existence of the Service.
Nigeria owes you all a debt of gratitude for the sacrifice here and hereafter. As usual, my friend tells me, they owe everything to Nigeria for the opportunity to serve. Fortuitously, among the retired officers are now top-notch traditional leaders, legislators, professors and ambassadors. To this end, it is also fitting to remember the pioneer officers who died of natural causes and on active duty in Nigeria and abroad in painful circumstances including wars, shootings and plane crashes. May God continue to comfort their families. I fervently hope that in the not too distant future Nollywood will follow the Hollywood tradition of showcasing the great seal of service and the stars representing fallen heroes carved into the memorial wall of the headquarters foyer as the agency . contribution to national development.
The NIA headquarters is such a beautiful place, where monkeys and other birds have right of way over humans, but where I am told spouses and children cannot visit. Perhaps one day those of us who gaze outside the elegant structure of the head office will have the opportunity to visit the agency museum and enjoy the serenity and calm ambience. , in particular of the extensive conservation activities undertaken by the founding fathers, arguably second only to that of the State House, Aso Villa.
I would like to end this tribute by extending the congratulations we salute in my family line from Itarabugba Compound to Epe on special occasions and Eyo festival celebrations: Mo yo fun e, mo yo fun ra mi (literally translated as I celebrate the NIA class of 1987, I celebrate myself).
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