President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday approved the appointment of his erstwhile Senior Special Assistant, SSAP, on Foreign Affairs/International Relations, Ahmed Abubakar, as the substantive Director-General for the National Intelligence Agency, NIA.
According to a release from the presidency, Abubakar had extensive experience working with the United Nations in peace support operations, mediation process, preventive diplomacy and good offices, as well as the promotion of good governance and respect for the rule of law and human rights.
But a civil society group, the Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights, CASER, has criticised the appointment, warning that the lopsided selection of the nation’s security chiefs in favour of Northern Muslims by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is not healthy for nation building.
It pointed out that Buhari has by this action, in addition to other political decisions, exhibited sectionalism and insensitive use of political discretion, such that other sections of the country, particularly minorities would feel seriously alienated and marginalised.
CASER, in a statement issued by its Executive Director, Frank Tietie, pointed out that in a mutually suspicious political arrangement like Nigeria, where one section of the country controls the major security structures, the President’s latest appointment violates Section 14(3) of the Constitution which states that:
“The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few State or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that Government or in any of its agencies.”
The civil society organisation maintained that the domination of the nation’s security architecture by Muslims of northern extraction is worrisome in the light of Nigeria’s history, arguing that “he who controls force, especially organised force in a polity controls everything”.
The statement reads in part, “The recent appointment by president Buhari of Ahmed Rufai Abubakar as the substantive Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) further exacerbates the angst of many who think President Buhari is out to drive a political agenda that favours the interest of some Northern Nigerian oligarchs.
“Whereas, the qualification of the said appointee is not in issue, the feeling of estrangement his choice creates in other sections of country ought to have been considered by the President.
“The Northern Nigerian political elites that currently prevail in Nigerian politics should adopt the game approach by playing according to the rules and take the risk, for the sake of national unity, the enthronement of a sense of belonging and an enduring democratic country, by acting like previous Southern Presidents (Obasanjo and Jonathan) who conceded national security positions of serious relevance to other sections of the country or persons of different religious persuasions other than theirs.
“This administration of President Buhari must do more in the fulfilment of the above constitutional directive on political appointments, especially in the area of security in order to promote a sense of unity, equality, balance and togetherness of Nigerians without compromising competence.”
Meanwhile, the appointment of Abubakar takes immediate effect. He holds a B.A degree in French Language and Literature, and an M.A degree in Francophone Maghrebian Literature, both from Bayero University, Kano.
The appointee, who is fluent in English and Arabic, served briefly as Senior Adviser at the Multinational Joint Task Force, MNJTF, with headquarters in Ndjamena, Chad, before his appointment as SSAP.