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Armsgate: The Cabal, Buhari’s Allies Hatch Plot To Down NSA, Monguno

To Go or Not To Go? That is the question Nigerians are asking concerning the recent alleged scandalous dealings swirling around the National Security Adviser, NSA, to President Muhammadu Buhari, Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd). Answers may not be long in coming and it is Mr. President himself who will have the final word…

By TheWill

Round about mid-January of 1862 during Abraham Lincoln’s presidency in the United States of America, God’s own country was self-destructing because of the civil war between the Confederacy and the Unionists. As Secretary of War, Simon Cameron was responsible for procurement of weapons and much else the Unionists needed to prosecute the war successfully against the secessionists.

In that position, Cameron, a politician described as “notoriously corrupt,” chose his friends to supply goods to the American government at exorbitant prices. Worse still, some of the goods such as army equipment, horse tack and food were substandard and so jeopardized the fighting soldiers’ lives.

Despite that, Cameron made oodles of cash like his friends he awarded contracts. Of course, Cameron’s fraudulent practice and mismanagement of government resources was soon discovered and the War Secretary called out. Once Cameron’s corrupt ways were firmly established and proven, President Lincoln relieved the bent politician of his job immediately and posted him to Russia as a minister.

Almost 160 years after, a similar scenario might just be unfolding in Nigeria, a country practicing the same presidential system of government as the United States.

As it was with the Americans during the civil war, Nigeria is currently battling an infernal insurgency, banditry and all kinds of criminal adventurism more than the country has ever been confronted with in its sixty-one years of existence as a nation.

Though President Buhari is the chief security officer of the country he presides over, he nonetheless listens to his National Security Adviser almost daily just like his predecessors did in the past. Indeed, it is just possible that past Presidents and Heads of State of Nigeria lent their sympathetic ears to their respective National Security Advisers more than any other cabinet member.

So it has been with PMB after he appointed Major-General Babagana Monguno (rtd) his NSA on July 13, 2015. For one, both of them are retired Generals. Again, those who know insist both of them have been close since PMB appointed him as his security adviser. Once Monguno assumed office, his relationship with members of the President’s inner cycle went swimmingly until sometime in 2017 when it turned frosty.

What triggered it?

According to sources with knowledge of the power play at the presidency, Monguno on assumption of office started aligning with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, whom Buhari’s close associates were watching closely with distrust because he was getting along nicely with the president and expanding his influence nationally unlike his predecessors. This was the root of Monguno’s issue with the president’s men.

It however happened that Monguno made some request to Buhari for arms purchase to fight the unending terrorism and banditry in much of the northern part of the country. The request was made precisely in March 2017.

According to reports quoting leaked memos of the NSA, he had written to his principal to buy arms from the United Arab Emirate through a third party – International Golden Group (IGG).

The total sum to be expended, according to the NSA’s estimate, came to $2.51bn. IGG was to also supply Hilux trucks in his proposal to Buhari.

As anyone would reasonably expect, any memo or correspondence to the president must out of necessity, be routed through his Chief of Staff. Thus his COS then, late Abba Kyari, a key member of the president’s powerful clique, got to know of the NSA’s memo to the President and it was time to finally cut Monguno to size and limit the influence of his usually powerful and influential office. He immediately saw flaws in the NSA’s memo and duly pointed them out to his principal.

To begin with, the Federal Government under Buhari had since banned purchase of arms for the Armed Forces through third parties. Because of previous experiences when Nigeria was either shortchanged by third party arms suppliers or sold substandard military hardware, Buhari’s administration preferred, instead, a direct country-to-country negotiation.

One such deal was the supply of 12 attack helicopters to Nigeria by the Russians. There have also been direct negotiations with the Americans wherein they approved the sale of, and later supplied, 12 Super Tucano Aircraft to Nigeria. There have been other such deals with the Chinese government.

Again, IGG, though based in Abu Dhabi, is not a manufacturer of arms. They buy from, say, Ukraine arms dealers or whichever country they can and then resupply to buyers like it did several times with Libya in Gaddafi’s twilight years. In other words, IGG is a commission agent company with the possibility of supplying substandard weapons and ammunition and also making a pile at Nigeria’s expense.

Moreover, despite the UAE’s interest in IGG, it is not a government agency. It is a private company with no known address nor was there a signatory in the document Monguno presented to Buhari. The document also stated that the company in question would buy the arms from some countries in Asia, the EU and the UK, South Africa and the United States.

The supply of Hilux trucks by IGG, as proposed by Monguno, was particularly galling to the deceased COS. Rather than order the vehicles through IGG, Kyari was said to have asked the NSA, why not buy them directly from the manufacturers, Japan?

These were some of the anomalies Kyari saw and pointed out to Monguno and, of course, the President, who frustrated and aborted Monguno’s arms deal according to insiders.

However in what would later turn out be a clash of the titans in the Presidency between the COS and the NSA, the later derisively described Kyari’s actions in a memo to the Service Chiefs as “meddlesomeness,” insisting that he was “interfering in military affairs.” The now retired Service Chiefs themselves aligned with Kyari against a frustrated Monguno, who felt his office was being undermined.

While the face-off was going on between the two big masquerades in Aso Villa, their principal suddenly fell ill and travelled to London for treatment. In his stead, Professor Yemi Osinbajo stepped in as Acting President. On assuming presidential duties, Osinbajo set up an Armed Forces and Police Emergency Procurement Committee (APEPC) so as to beef up military operations in the combustible North Eastern part of the country, with Lafiya Dole specifically given priority.

Monguno availed himself of Buhari’s absence, according to authoritative sources, to present the same memo this time, hiking his request to $2.6 billion to include purchasing arms for Lafiya Dole, claiming that before the President travelled for his medical leave, he had okayed the sum for the purchase through the same IGG.

The Acting President cold-shouldered the NSA, insisting he was only following presidential orders that, as far as arms procurement was concerned, there will be no third parties.

As most Nigerians now know, the cold war continued until Kyari died suddenly on April 19, 2020 due to complications from Covid-19.

President Muhammadu Buhari in a meeting with members of his the National Security team including the NSA Monguno, retired military Chiefs and late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari

Aborted Police Procurement Deal

The dust raised by the failed IGG arms deal had barely settled when, again, the NSA made another request to President Buhari. This time, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, had gone to him for purchase of equipment for the police and to boost police operations. A sum of N32 billion was earmarked. This was in 2019. Buhari had been reelected a second time. Kyari remained his COS. The NSA asked the president to approve the sum, allegedly raising it by an extra N14bn totalling N46bn.

Again, the president refused, restating, once again, through the advice of Kyari that “only the Ministry of Police Affairs and the Ministry of Defence should be involved in arms procurement.”

This decision significantly weakened the influence of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) over the service chiefs and procurement of arms for the military and police. The bruised NSA would retreat and bide his time to hit back at Kyari, who was a very strategic anchor of the president’s men and the Service Chiefs, who opted to stand with the now deceased COS.

The NSA’s recent interview on BBC Hausa Service where he declared that the money provided for arms purchase during the erstwhile service chiefs’ tenure “is gone” bears out his troubled relation with them although he was clever enough to wait for them to be safely out of service before his pronouncement which he has since said was quoted out of context after allegedly coming under pressure from the Villa.

According to sources close to the President’s key allies in the seat of power, they saw Monguno’s comment as an open declaration of war on them for suggesting that billions of naira expended on arms were siphoned. The forces in the Villa have decided to oust Monguno from his job and have indeed commenced a process they hope would lead to his removal from his job just like they did to his ally, Ibrahim Magu at the EFCC.

The president’s men scheme to expose the NSA as corrupt

It is true that most sitting presidents from as long as anyone can remember have their kitchen cabinet, close confidants of the president. Reliable sources told THEWILL the same cabal in the Villa are now angling to get the NSA out. Among these powerful potentates are the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, former governor of Ogun State and serving Senator; Ibikunle Amosun, Mamman Daura, PMB’s much-trusted nephew and Sabiu ‘Tunde’ Yusuf, Buhari’s private secretary.

Their main grouse, apart from Monguno disobeying presidential orders, is his arbitrariness in his duties as NSA.

A Reckless Director of Finance of NSA

His narrowing circle of friends and colleagues is bound to shrink even further in the coming days following another scandal involving his close aide, Brigadier General Mohammed Jafaru, Director of Finance in the very office Monguno helms.

Jafaru has been interrogated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over questionable ownership of multi-billion naira properties and cash in multiple bank accounts, which a court has temporarily frozen following a request by the anti-graft agency.

According to reports on news website which THEWILL has not been able to independently confirm, Jafaru is allegedly holding the assets in trust for Monguno.

It is often said that when calamities sometimes befall the reckless, they come in battalions. This might just be the case for the NSA. With two failed arms purchase deals around his neck, a reckless finance director under his watch, it is hard to imagine him getting off scot-free, especially given his principal’s aversion to any form of corruption by officials he himself appointed.

Nigerians still remember the fate of disgraced former Secretary to the Federal Government Babachir Lawal.

After his Secretary of War was indicted on corruption charges, Lincoln wrote Cameron a cutting letter to wit: “As you have, more than once, expressed a desire for a change of position, I can now gratify you, consistently with my view of the public interest. I therefore propose nominating you to the Senate next Monday, as Minister to Russia.”

Lincoln’s War Minister wept on receiving his president’s epistle. Convinced by some of his close confidants to reword the sack letter, to give Cameron a soft landing, Lincoln sent another letter which made it seem Cameron resigned from office.

Whether the president’s allies will succeed in convincing him to send his NSA packing is yet unknown. But if he decides to any time soon or later, you can be sure of something not dissimilar to Lincoln’s piece of mind to a corrupt government official in whom he reposed much trust.

ovu: Tuesday, 23 March 2021 at 3/23/2021 12:37:00 pm


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