President Bola Tinubu’s appointment of Nuhu Ribadu, a retired Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Police, as National Security Adviser (NSA) has signalled the return of police control of internal security, according to experts.
Ribadu’s appointment, which has generated various reactions, is a clear departure from the practice whereby succeasive presidents since 1999 appointed military officers as NSA.
Before Ribadu’s appointmen, several other top-ranking police officers had served as NSA.
They include MD Yusuf, who served as NSA under the regime of Abubakar Tafawa Balewa/Nnamdi Azikiwe; Umaru Shinkafi, who served under President Shehu Shagari; and Gambo Jimeta, a retired Inspector General of Police (IGP), who also served under the regime of Ibrahim Babangida.
Ismaila Gwarzo, a retired AIG, served under the late Earnest Shonekan and later Sani Abacha’s military junta as NSA.
He was also a police officer, and the first Director of the State Security Service, Minister of Police Affairs.
Lawrence Alobi, former commissioner of police, Federal Capital Territory, told BusinessDay that the appointment of Ribadu as NSA is “in order”.
Alobi noted that President Tinubu’s decision is in tandem with global best practices.
“Under a democratic system, the police heads internal security,” he said.
Alobi, who described the job of NSA as “purely advisory”, added that several other top police officers who served in similar capacities distinguished themselves on the job.
He said: “Nuhu Ribadi is an intelligence officer, and from his antecedent as former chairman of the EFCC, I don’t see any reason why he will not excel in this position.
“The National Security Adviser is a senior official in the President’s team, and his job is to manage national security on behalf of the President and serves as his chief advisor on all matters that are vital to the very survival of the state.”
According to him, the occupant of that position is a statutory member of the Presidency, as well as member of the National Security Council and the Federal Executive Council.
The NSA is appointed by the President and does not require confirmation from the National Assembly.
The newly-appointed NSA, Ribadu, was born in Yola, Adamawa State, on 21 November, 1960.
He attended the Aliyu Mustapha Primary School, Yola from 1966 to 1973 and Yelwa Government Secondary School, Yola from 1973-1977. Between 1978 and 1980, Mr Ribadu was at the College of Preliminary Studies, CPS, Yola, for his A-level studies.
He later proceeded to the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, from where he graduated in 1983, with a Bachelor in Law and later Nigerian Law School and was called to the bar in 1984.
Ribadu, who joined the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) immediately after his national youth service, also holds an LLM degree with emphasis on the jurisprudence of corruption in Nigeria from the sane University
In 2008, he attended the Harvard Business School where he did a programme on the strategic management of law enforcement agencies.
He was appointed the pioneer chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by former President Olusegun Obasanjo, and was tasked with the responsibilities of countering corruption and fraud which he literally transformed into one of the most effective and renowned anti-graft agencies in modern history.
Following his successful performance, the African Union put him on its advisory board on anti-corruption matters; and he was invited to join the advisory board of the friends of the World Bank/UNODC initiative on stolen asset recovery.
Mike Ejiofor, former director, Directorate of State Security Service, noted that since all political appointees are answerable to the President, Ribadu should not have any problem coordinating internal security intelligence.
He stressed the need for synergy between the security, warning of an imminent failure if they work at cross purposes.
He said: “There is no way you are going to achieve results. So the agencies must now look at the body language of the President; they must work together. And for the new NSA being a former policemen, I don’t see any reason why they should not work together.
“I’m particularly thrilled about the appointment of Nuhu Ribadu because he must bring to bear his experience when he was EFCC chairman. I know a lot of people have questioned why not military. There is no where in the constitution that is written that the NSA must be a military, and mind you, the president who is the commander in chief of the armed forces is not a military man.
“Do not also forget that Ribadu contested for the presidency of this country, so if he had won, wouldn’t he be incharge of the armed forces? There’s no dispute, and there shouldn’t be rancor between the office of the NSA and the service chiefs because it’s not as if they are taking command from the NSA. The office of the NSA is to coordinate and collate reports for advice to the President. If there’s a need for all of them to meet, they will and have solutions to the problem and advise the president.
“So I don’t see the problem, even in the US just a few of the national security advisers are military men even though they all have a military background.
“Nigeria is democratizing. Apart from Yar’Adua and Gooodluck Jonathan, we have had military presidents, so for them to appoint people from their own constituency, there is nothing to wrong with that.”
He also pointed out that as President Tinubu campaigned as a civilian and won the election, he became the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, and can wear any of the uniforms of all the nation’s security outfits.
“If he can do so, he also can appoint anyone to head the agency that gathers intelligence and also advise the President on security matters. You will also recall that Ribadu is an intelligence officer, having worked and retired as a very senior police officer.”
Ejiofor said that since Ribadu successfully worked as the chairman of the EFCC, he should have no difficulties checking corruption in the nation’s security spendings.
According to him, Ribadu should be able check corruption in security spending.