MALLAM Nuhu Ribadu, the pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was recently appointed the National Security Adviser (NSA). His appointment comes at a time Nigeria is still reeling in pains of security challenges. Yet most Nigerians have described the appointment as being in line with the global trend, a growing shift to intelligence-led security, as well as a paradigm shift from the regular appointment from successive governments. President Bola Tinubu, very early in office, made it clear that he was constructing a new security architecture where coordination would be paramount. He warned that service chiefs should be ready to work as part of a team and not as rivals. The Retired Assistant Inspector General of Police took over from Major-General Babagana Monguno (retd) as Nigeria’s NSA. He came to national prominence after being appointed EFCC chairman by former President Olusegun Obasanjo. Ribadu had taken to the assignment with enthusiasm only for a change of government to consign him to premature retirement. He left his career as an intelligence officer in the rank of AIG.
Ribadu’s return to the corridors of power marks a break in the pattern of appointments to the office of NSA over the last 25 years. Ribadu has become a household name in Nigeria and beyond on account of his glorious public service record and personal integrity. A trained lawyer and fearless crime fighter, Ribadu has carved a niche for himself as someone who is patriotic, passionate, honest, courageous and compassionate. Already, there are high expectations from Nigerians and the international community for Ribadu not only to curb insecurity and restore calm in the country, but to rebuild the damaged reputation of the Nigerian defence structure. A former Kaduna Central senator, Shehu Sani, said Nigerians expected the new NSA to employ a different approach to achieve a better result in the fight against insecurity in the country. Sani stated this in a statement via his verified Twitter handle. He tasked Ribadu to end the criminality of terrorism, banditry, killings, and kidnappings across the country.
The Kaduna lawmaker also urged Ribadu to bring innovations that will ensure the protection of schools and farmers from terrorists. The immediate past chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Army, Hon. Abdulrazak Namdas, described the new NSA and service chiefs as square pegs in square holes. He said, “In my view, the President made an excellent selection of officers that can help him fight insecurity in Nigeria. As the Chairman, House Committee, I got to know the Chief of Defence Staff, Gen C.G. Mwusa and the Chief of Army Staff, Maj. Gen T.A. Lagbaja. They have held command positions and they are very respected in the Nigerian Army. I have been told that the two other service chiefs are thorough professionals. When you add Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as National Security Adviser, I believe they will help the President achieve the desired results. As far as I am concerned, these men are square pegs in square holes.” On the appropriateness of Ribadu’s appointment as NSA, Namdas said the choice of a police officer as NSA is not new. According to the director-general (DG) of Imoudu National Institute for Labour Studies, MINILS, Issa Aremu, the appointment of Mallam Ribadu has renewed hope among Nigerians that the security sector reform initiated by former President Muhammadu Buhari would be further deepened.
Speaking at the sidelines of the 2023 Ilorin Emirate Durbar, Aremu congratulated Mallam Ribadu as the 10th NSA and said that based on experience and capacity, Mallam Ribadu was eminently qualified for the job of advising the President on national security matters. “As a member 2008 Senior Executive Course (SEC 30) of the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) Kuru Jos, Mallam Ribadu was sufficiently exposed to the tasks of building a better Nigeria. He is also politically tested to know that what is at stake is Renewed Hope for secure lives and properties for Nigeria and Nigerians,’’ he said. Also, the Coalition of Northern Groups commended the appointment of Ribadu as the NSA. The CNG, in a statement by the spokesperson, Abdul-Azeez Suleiman, in Abuja, viewed this appointment as incontrovertible proof of President Tinubu’s commitment to the discharge of the vital task of providing adequate security to citizens. Describing Ribadu as a square peg in a square hole, the coalition said he appropriately fits the position he is called to occupy as a universally acknowledged security expert blended in rare quality of fortitude and strength of character. A former Niger Delta agitator, Government Ekpemupolo, also known as Tompolo, has expressed his belief that Ribadu will bring innovations that will drive the security apparatus of the nation to an enviable height.
Facing security challenges head-on
Ribadu is aware of the gravity of the nation’s security challenges, but he is confident that he will make a mark. The Boko Haram insurgency is largely crushed but they are still a nuisance along with ISWAP around the fringes of the Lake Chad. The spectre of terror is an ever present reality given events from the Sahel right up to Libya and across North Africa. Nigeria’s long and porous borders means it is virtually impossible to keep out undesirable elements who are pouring in from conflict zones earlier identified. Killings in the North-Central region linked to herders remain a problem. In the last three months scores of people have lost their lives to the conflict. The activities of bandits is also a headache in the North-West and in parts of North-Central. Kidnapping seems to be on the wane although not totally eliminated. In the South-East the problem of rampaging gunmen is linked to the secessionist agitation. Off the country’s coasts, sea piracy is damaging maritime prospects. But of greater worry in the South South zone is oil theft that seems unstoppable. Ribadu, at a brief event held in Abuja recently, expressed his commitment to fulfilling the expectations of Nigerians and ensuring the safety and security of the country.
“We will stabilise this country, we will secure our country, and we will make Nigeria peaceful because we believe the time has come for this country to enjoy peace, restore order, and uphold the rule of law just like any other country in the world.
“This enormous task of securing our country is that of all Nigerians and all friends of Nigeria,” Ribadu concluded, as reported by the NSA Office.
For the pioneer EFCC chairman, taking over as Nigeria’s latest National Security Adviser (NSA) was something emotional. To mark the special occasion, he embarked on a mental journey – remembering some of those who helped him on his way up. He wore robes and a pair of shoes gifted him by his late mentor, Dr. Mahmud Tukur. The cap on his head came from another benefactor, former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Coomasssie.
Recognising that securing the nation is an ongoing process, Ribadu stressed the need to build upon previous efforts while calling for the support of all stakeholders in discharging their responsibilities and highlighted the President’s commitment to securing every part of Nigeria.
The man Nuhu Ribadu
Nuhu Ribadu, was born in Yola, Adamawa State, on 21 November, 1960.He attended 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.
In 1980, he gained admission to study law at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, graduating in 1983. He graduated from the Nigerian Law School and was called to the bar in 1984. He joined the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) immediately after his national youth service.
Mr Ribadu holds an LLM degree with emphasis on the jurisprudence of corruption in Nigeria from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. In 2008, he was at the Harvard Business School where he did a programme on the strategic management of law enforcement agencies.
A trained lawyer and fearless crime fighter, Mr Ribadu has carved a niche for himself as someone who is patriotic, passionate, honest, courageous and compassionate.
He is the pioneer Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the government commission tasked with countering corruption and fraud which he literally transformed into one of the most effective and renowned anti-graft agencies in modern history. Yet, his major contribution to the anti-corruption crusade was his selflessness, resilience and exemplary conduct in his spirited fight against the cankerworm.
In three years, the EFCC, under his leadership, built the now most celebrated Crimes Training and Research Institute in the West African region. The agency also recorded over 200 criminal convictions under his leadership.
Ribadu was promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG), in March 2007. The African Union (AU) 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.
Speaking on the appointment of a non-military person as NSA, first time since 1999, a public analyst, Musa Balogun, said, ‘‘When you look around the world, National Security Advisers are not necessarily military people. The office is not a preserve for the military people. But because we have been practising it since 1999, it is felt that it must be a military person.
‘‘The battles we are fighting are largely with fellow Nigerians. We are not fighting external forces. Now, if you are not fighting external forces, that means the instruments you need for defeating terrorism in Nigeria are the police and secret service people because it is an internal warfare.”
The National Security Adviser (formally called Assistant to President on National Security Affairs) in the United States of America, whose presidential system the Nigerian presidential system is modelled after, coordinates defence, foreign affairs, international economic policy, and intelligence. This job description reflects the recognition that national security extends beyond military security and encompasses foreign affairs, international economic policy, diplomacy and increasingly technological policy. It also suggests that the occupier of that office is versed in a practical approach to creating, enhancing and sustaining peace in the land.
Getting wins in the area of security may not be as swift as we would all like. What would make a difference is fresh thinking. That is the biggest challenge facing the new man at ONSA. The old ideas from the military establishment are not working. He needs to deliver ideas that would produce quantifiable short term results.
- Nwokoji is on the staff of Nigerian Tribune
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