A few minutes to 10pm two days ago, the media adviser to Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufa’i released a statement that I consider most unfortunate to several media houses. In that statement, his principal, the Governor of Kaduna State, arrogantly blamed everyone but himself in the five-day warning strike embarked upon by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) to show displeasure with the sack of thousands of workers in the state’s civil service, without following due process.
In a most irresponsible tone also, the Kaduna governor said he was not going to honour a peace meeting called by Minister of Labour, which, in reality, was aimed at helping remove the strangulation of the state by the labour movement, as a result of El-Rufa’i’s intransigence. It doesn’t matter to the governor that the NLC has suspended its warning strike as a mark of respect for that meeting.
To start with, I have been a passionate supporter of Governor El-Rufa’i for years now. In this weekly column, I cannot remember how many times I have eulogised the governor for what I see as his genuine efforts to transform Kaduna State and launch it to greatness. I hail from Kano State but earn my livelihood as a media professional in Abuja. I have family members in both places and so have always passed through Kaduna on my several trips to Kano, mostly by road, my preferred mode of transportation.
Even if you hate El-Rufa’i, you cannot deny him serious credit with the turnaround projects he has been embarking on in Kaduna, making the state capital one huge project site. I know of so many friends who have missed their way in Kaduna because the governor has either dualised one major road they were used to or using as a landmark, and have not been to the state in the last one year or so. Anyone in doubt could go to Kaduna and see for himself.
So, my criticism of Governor El-Eufa’i should be seen as that of a supporter getting terribly disappointed with his hero, or something to that effect.
Now, why am I disappointed in Governor El-Rufa’i? Of course, as the NLC has submitted, it is well within his right to sack workers he considers not productive. But the bone of contention is simply doing it legally and morally. How would the governor feel if, for example, he is impeached by the state legislators without due process being followed?
The Kaduna State governor was right that it makes no sense for a state to be expending about 90 per cent of its earnings on a few thousand workers, abandoning millions other citizens to their fate. But he went about this whole thing the wrong way by behaving like an emperor whose word, however bad, must be followed. He has forgotten that he is a product of law, without which even his wives may not pay obeisance to him.
It was shocking that a governor I considered the best, or at least one of the best in this dispensation, has chosen to behave like someone who has never gone to school. El-Rufa’i did that in so many ways, especially in declaring the NLC president Ayuba Wabba wanted. Clearly, the Kaduna governor is a bad student of history. He was in the frontline in relentless condemnation of former President Goodluck Jonathan and even the late Presdient Umaru Yar’Adua, criticizing their almost every move, good and bad. He said things that came back haunting him now as governor, perhaps because he did not think a day would come when he would be reminded of those utterances.
If there was any award for a leader making the most reckless utterances, a fitting winner would be Governor Nasir El-Rufa’i. His reckless statements have contributed in worsening the security situation in his state, with bandits taking it as a personal challenge to humiliate the governor by making peace a very elusive product in Kaduna State. Sadly, in the process, those bearing the brunt of the governor’s recklessness are the masses, with so many of their children kidnapped in the battle of ego between the governor and the brigands. Even when five of the abducted students of the Greenfield University were killed in cold blood by their kidnappers, El-Rufa’i kept churning out one reckless statement or the other, making the abductors angrier while doing nothing that the public is aware of, in rescuing the unfortunate students. As I write this, majority of them are still in the wicked hands of their abductors. Only God knows what would happen to them.
It is my hope that the Kaduna governor would change strategy and be less combative in his approach to issues. He should remember that he has only two remaining years in power, and no one can vote for him as President or even Vice-President if he continues to remain insensitive to major national issues. Fortunately for him, it is not too late to turn the page and be a good boy.
Though I have never been a consultant to any security or intelligence agency in Nigeria, I have had cause, in the course of my career as a journalist, or for one reason or the other, to visit some state formations of the Department of State Services (DSS). I also visited the headquarters of the service a year ago, and have since then been following the unprecedented strides of the director-general, Yusuf Bichi.
Obviously, being a secret service, the DSS has not been advertising the achievements of this uncommon patriot towards the improvement of our national security. But since this is a column that promises to celebrate our very best, even if they are in the public sector, I choose to salute DG Bichi for the countless great things he is busy doing for Nigeria, hoping this might encourage him to achieve more.
Obviously, there is no better person to describe who the DSS DG is than my friend and brother, the DSS spokesmen, the one and only Dr. Peter Afunanya. I reproduce herewith a piece he wrote recently, entitled, “The Professional Side of Y.M. Bichi.” I agree with every word of it. Excerpts:
Not many knew Yusuf Magaji Bichi before he became the DGSS in 2018. Before then, he was just one quiet easygoing gentleman who had started and finished a 35-year public service in the intelligence agency. Born in 1956 in the ancient city of Bichi, Kano State, he attended Danbatta Secondary School and the College of Advanced Studies, Kano.
An alumnus of the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he studied Political Science and graduated in 1981, he started his career in the security division of the Kano State Cabinet Office. He was to later transfer his services in 1984 to the then National Security Organisation (NSO), now State Security Service (SSS)/Department of State Services (DSS).
As a young officer, his sterling performance and dedication to duty stood him out. In 1985, his supervisor had described Bichi as an asset and good material for the service. He was subsequently nominated in 1988 to receive further training in intelligence processing and analysis and other aspects of counterintelligence in the United Kingdom. His course officer had described him as a competent intelligence officer. Back home, Chief J.O. Obuseh, his then boss saw him as a very good analyst. His projections were never flawed. They were precise.
Vast in many fields of covert actions and Alternative Dispute Resolution, his core competences include investigation, interrogation and protective operations; conflict management, risk and vulnerability assessment, human resource management and mentorship. He brings his wealth of experience to bear on his assignments. At every stage of his endeavours, his superiors had taken note of his discipline and diligence. This is why in years past, Mr. AA Gadzama, a one-time DG stated that “wherever you have difficulty and security challenges, post Bichi there”. He has continually exhibited this in the way he handles matters.
Aside adopting cooperation as basis for interagency relationship, he harps on effective and proactive communication as bedrock of public and media engagements. In support of the ongoing fight against terrorism, insurgency and other threats against National Security, he has humbly and steadily supplied timely and actionable intelligence to sister agencies. Ditto to MDAs for efficient State and public policy. He is neither combative nor competitive. He is only a team player and an achiever.
He is an alumnus of the prestigious National Defence College where he was bestowed a Fellow of the War College (fwc) in 2007. While in training, he caught the attention of his assessors. He was unequivocally described as decent, mature and a well comported gentleman with a pleasant demeanour. But for a demand by his parent Organisation, the DSS, that he returned to the Service, the National War College (NWC) wanted him retained as a Directing Staff. Further observed to be respected by all including the College staff, he was applauded for learning rapidly and devoted in his work.
Above all, the College noted that Bichi “is an experienced and knowledgeable person who readily shared his experience with his peers”. No wonder he adopts collaboration as a model for security management. Prophetically, the Commandant unambiguously stated that Bichi has great potentials for effective performance in higher responsibilities. Is anyone ever shocked he afterall became the DGSS?
Yes, his emergence as the DGSS is never a surprise. It is a journey foretold. In one of the assessments on him, he was described as an officer with high quality of leadership even though he was yet to occupy a top post. At each point of his training, the observation about his leadership qualities and recommendations to discharge higher responsibilities remained constant and unassailable.
Notably in 2007, the Commandant of National War College hinted about his great potentials to effectively manage higher responsibilities. Instructively, 2018 as clearly seen was not the first time he was to be considered for the post of DG. In 2011/12, his name featured as a potential DGSS. In the same vein in 2015, he was among the three (3) names the then DG, Mr Ekpenyong Ita recommended as his replacement.
Various stakeholders had always mentioned him as a possible DG. That he was not lucky those periods was an act of destiny. And as a man of destiny that he is, he eventually became one when it was his time. And he has not disappointed. He is not an ambitious man. During his early days, he had on three (3) occasions respectfully turned down appointments when the then DG, Areh nominated him six (6) times for one position or the other. Remarkably, the DG on three (3) instances refused and insisted he must take the particular appointment.
Bichi has made a steady and enviable career in the SSS where he has risen to the highest rank and won all the accolades for his unblemished services. The trio of former DGs, Chief Peter Nwaoduah, KK Areh (Col/rtd) and Gadzama variously honoured him with distinguished awards for excellent and outstanding performances. He served meritoriously in different capacities. He served as Director, State Services Academy (SSA), Lagos, one of the Service’s Training Institutions. He was State Director of Security (SDS) in Jigawa, Niger, Sokoto and Abia States. He also headed all the Service’ Directorates namely Security Enforcement, Operations, Intelligence, Inspectorate, Administration among others.
He started to hold those enviable positions quite early in his career. While on mere GL.14, he had been appointed to be the Director, Inspectorate in charge of discipline, standards, evaluation and inspection. Only his professional attributes, mien and disposition earned him that. From this time to when he exited the Service (and returned) he stood out and has remained his amiable and hardworking self.
Bichi is, no doubt, an Intelligence Officer of great excellence. Known for his disposition to mentor young and upcoming officers, he is astute, modest and has a carriage that is compelling. He is likeable. He is urbane. He is creative and innovative. His personality has positively affected the Service. These have led to several reforms since his assumption of Office as the DGSS.
Staff welfare is fundamental to his management style. He is a team player and operates an open door policy which endears him to all and sundry. There is hardly any of his subordinates who had not worked under him; a reason he understands and knows them well. He utilizes them appropriately to achieve desired national security objectives.
He is an ardent believer in transparency and democratic accountability of security and intelligence forces. A man of immense credibility who has won numerous accolades, he was recently recognized by the Abuja Municipal Area Council (AMAC) which named YM Bichi Crescent in Jahi District of Abuja after him for his contributions to the society.
The DGSS is a highly detribalized Nigerian. For instance, his close body aides are neither Muslims nor Hausas. His three (3) drivers are Christians. Two of his Secretaries are non-Muslim Southerners. The Chief Detail to the DG is Igbo. The heads of his Protocol are Christian Southerners just like Yours Sincerely, the Public Relations Officer. He is not one that accepts irregularities as norms. This manifests in his operational plans and intelligence collection designs. On assumption of duty as DG, he gave effect to the numerous restructuring of the Service- ranking, allowances and salaries.
His tenure has really witnessed a lot of changes. Staff welfare and motivation, collaborative and strategic engagements with sister agencies and stakeholders are on the rise. The DG is indeed a father and a friend loved by all. Loyal to Constituted Authorities, the Nation and the Service, he is unarguably gentle, humane, resilient and incorruptible.
He personifies John Maxwell’s popular quote that “a leader is one who knows the way, shows the way and goes the way”. Alhaji YM Bichi fwc is, indeed, a Professional to the core. Salute to a Quintessential Noble Man of Honour!