Nigeria’s national security adviser, Babagana Monguno, has criticised Abba Kyari, President Muhammadu Buhari’s chief of staff, for meddling in meetings with service chiefs and heads of security organisations thus undermining security and defence efforts by the president.
Monguno, in a letter copied to President Buhari, Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Defence, Interior, and Police Affairs called out Kyari for stepping outside his constitutional role and disrupting the national security framework. In the letter dated December 9, 2019, reproduced online by Premium Times, a copy of which was sighted by BusinessDay, Monguno asked the service chiefs to disregard instructions from Kyari unless they are written documents bearing President Buhari’s signature.
Monguno’s rebuke comes amid increasing public outrage at the failure of Buhari’s administration to solve the country’s security challenges and calls for the sack of the service chiefs.
The spat between the high-level office-holders shows signs of cracks within the president’s core team, political analysts say.
“You are reminded that the Chief of Staff to the President is not a presiding head of security, neither is he sworn to an oath of defending the country,” Monguno said in the letter. Monguno accused Buhari’s chief of staff of disregarding protocols and hindering the flow of communication between the president and the security advisers.
Kyari was also said to be overstepping the boundaries of his constitutional duties, which Monguno said is limited to conveying the president’s written directives as far as security is concerned. “As such, unprofessional practices such as presiding over meetings with service chiefs and heads of security organisations as well as ambassadors and high commissioners to the exclusion of the NSA and/or supervising ministers are a violation of the Constitution and directly undermine the authority of Mr President,” said Monguno.
According to the national security adviser, the acts and continuous meddlesomeness by the chief of staff have not only ruptured the country’s security and defence efforts but have slowed down any meaningful gain the president has sought to achieve. The security of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requires concerted and centralised effort taking into account internal, external and diplomatic factors, he said. Monguno warned Kyari to desist from the “illegal acts that serve nothing but the continuous undermining of our national security framework”. “Any breach of this directive will attract displeasure of Mr President,” Monguno said.
In a response to Monguno’s letter, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) on Monday said the NSA’s revelation that strange persons have been presiding over critical affairs of governance further validated its position that President Buhari has abdicated the responsibilities of his office.
Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP national publicity secretary, said in a statement that security is the most important element of governance, followed by the welfare of citizens and since President Buhari has relinquished these statutory responsibilities, he has no other reason to remain in office.
“The PDP describes the Gen. Monguno revelation as a national tragedy which showcases the fact that Mr. President Buhari has become so irredeemably overwhelmed to the extent that the responsibilities of his office, including presiding over very sensitive security matters, have now been taken over by his Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari, who functions as a de facto president,” Ologbondyan said.
“Nigerians are invited to note the verdict by the NSA, who, in support of the position of the PDP, affirmed that such situation is responsible for the failure of government to defend Nigerians and find solution to the worsened insecurity under President Buhari’s watch,” he said.
SEGUN ADAMS (Lagos) & SOLOMON AYADO (Abuja)