When CIA Boss, Mike Pompeo quipped: “It’s an incredible privilege to lead the men and women who are providing intelligence so that we can do the national security mission, and in the finest tradition of the CIA, I’m not going to say a damn thing in front of the media”, he certainly didn’t have Nigeria in mind but, he certainly captured the Nigerian situation aptly at least, going by the media campaign against the newly appointed NIA Boss, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar.
Nigeria is a peculiar country where people consistently believe things could work better in reverse than normal. It’s quite normal in Nigeria to see people working hard to squeeze water out of stone to quench their thirst while sitting by a riverside. Perhaps, this funny reversed intelligence could explain the proclivity of Nigerians to resist a ‘normal good’ in favour of their ‘reversed good’ (call it bad at your own peril).
Nothing explains this phenomenon more than the recent appointment of an accomplished intelligence officer, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, to head the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Going by the uproar that greeted Abubakar’s appointment one could think President Buhari just went outside regular procedure and appointed Boko Haram’s Abubakar Shekau to manage the elitist Intelligence Agency. If that’s not enough, one could think President Buhari rolled Diezeni and Jide Omokore in one and appointed the deadly result DG, NIA.
Funnily, when sifting through the tons of literature deployed to not only pull Abubakar down but bury him under, the clearest thing one could pick is the fact that most authors of the venomous literatures doesn’t even know the highly professional, meticulous and well respected gentleman. Not even the fact that Abubakar twice passed the quality test of President Buhari, a man whose integrity and patriotic sense of duty is about the only thing Nigerians ever have a general consensus, could make the Abubakar narratives any saner. Abubakar was first appointed Senior Special Assistant to the President before being elevated to the enviable position of the NIA Director General.
So, who is Ahmed Rufai Abubakar? He was born in Kofar Durbi area of Katsina Metropolis right in the heart of the old city into a respected family of Quranic scholars. As was – and still is – the tradition in Northern Nigeria and indeed, West Africa, Quranic scholarship took his uncle Republic Chad and he took young Abubakar with him where he was partly brought up. Keeping to the tenets of the closely knitted family, Abubakar later married his cousin, the daughter of his uncle – Alhaji Ali KD.
On his return to Nigeria, Abubakar attended Arabic Teacher’s College, Katsina where he obtained his Grade II Certificate. He later went to Bayero University Kano where he obtained a B.A degree in French Language and Literature, and an M.A degree in Francophone Maghrebian Literature. He worked as a Lecturer at Bayero University before taking up appointment with Katsina State Goverment. Later he transferred his services to NIA in the 90s.
At different times the well groomed Abubakar served at Nigeria Embassy Rabat, Morocco, African Union Peace Mission in Darfur, Sudan and later joined United Nations as Director in Peace Support Operations, Mediation Process, Preventive Diplomacy and Good Governance office. He also worked as Senior Adviser with the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), with headquarters in Ndjamena, Chad before his appointment as Senior Special Assistant to the President. The added advantage of fluency in English, French and Arabic made Abubakar a versatile intelligence officer whose contributions to the growth of Nigeria’s Intelligence community could not be over-emphasised.
Abubakar had it so good and might have sail through to the end smelling like a rose flower but for the ‘misfortune’ of being noticed and appointed by President Buhari to occupy one of the most sought after officer in Nigeria’s administrative architecture. But for being appointed the substantive DG of the NIA, his narrative could be a permanent topic in career guidance and moral counselling. His impressive career should call for celebration anywhere in the world but Nigeria where success is a an unforgivable ‘sin’.
Interestingly all the attacks against Abubakar could easily be accepted as attacks provoked by envy and crashed ambitions of colleagues hence, the blind shots that could easily ricochets and cause more damage to the attackers than the attacked. For instance, is it not obvious that by trying to pull down Abubakar most of the sponsored literature only succeeded in denting the image of the respectable NIA? They argued foolishly that Abubakar is a dual citizen of Nigeria and Chad for the simple reason that part of his childhood was spent in Chad under the care of his uncle, a Nigerian Islamic scholar who could be said to be on Islamic diplomatic mission to Chad at the time. How much of this line of foolish thought rub on the children of many diplomats working under the NIA born in diaspora while their parents were legitimately working to protect the integrity of Nigeria? Is this saying that these ‘diplomatic children’ could never aspire or rise to achieve the pinnacle of their career if they chose to serve the NIA simply because they were born and brought up in foreign lands?
To me, it’s an added advantage in the circle of intelligence to be versatile and thoroughly exposed. By the way, it’s a rule that candidates for employment with the NIA must be vetted before being employed. It’s also a rule that such candidates must be 100% undiluted Nigerians. Were these rules waived for Ahmed Rufai Abubakar just so that one day President Buhari should appoint him DG NIA? I like table tennis but I don’t like when it’s played with brains of dunderheads for the pleasure of irreversible pessimists. NIA is structured to be practically impossible to compromised.
It’s human for those who lost out to Abubakar to be angry and disappointed but, it shouldn’t go beyond the limit of decent expression of disappointment to cross into the field of insanity. We may talk all the talk scripted to release bottled up anger caused by crashed hopes, dreams and expectations of contenders to the throne but, it shouldn’t escape us that the victim of any expressed anger is more the NIA than the man appointed to supervise it for a period. Abubakar was appointed based on track record and suitability. He fits President Buhari’s agenda to restore and secure Nigeria’s integrity.
NIA as a sensitive agency critical to this ambition need more than sentimental considerations to be positioned appropriately to execute this agenda. The earlier stakeholders get used to this idea, the better the chances of restoring the lost dignity of NIA which suffered a serious assault recently from people vested with the responsibility of taking it to the next level. We should be thankful to the President for his clear effort to restore confidence to the agency.
May Allah guide Ahmed Rufai Abubakar through a successful and blissful tenure.