President Buhari toed the line in appointing northerners, Lawal Daura and now Yusuf Bichi, from his part of the country as the DGs of the Service.
Never in the history of the emergence of the Department of State Services (DSS) has the headship generated resentment, antipathy and criticisms like the recent appointment and confirmation of Yusuf Magaji Bichi, as the Director General of Nigeria’s secret police.
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For most persons from Southern Nigeria, Bichi’s appointment was nepotic. Not appointing him would have provided a counter narrative in this administration’s alleged biased security architecture, judging by the headship of police, military, NIA, Immigration, Civil Defence and other paramilitary agencies as largely a composition of Northerners. But should Bichi be eternally condemned for his appointment? Certainly, no. He did not appoint himself. Neither did he nominate himself.
Is a square peg in square hole? Certainly, yes. Is he professional enough to be the DG of DSS? Yes, he is.
Today, all these umbrages seem to have gone down as historical archival materials as a new Sheriff has come to town. Regardless of the ethnic bias that may have been responsible for producing Bichi, it is high time we changed the narrative and explore his capabilities, competence and professionalism in repositioning the service.
Beyond the possibility that he may have influenced his appointment, the fundamental issue should be to redirect our energies towards what he is bringing to the table in repositioning the already disenchanted rank and level of the service.
More importantly, rightly or wrongly, his appointment was not a departure from what has become a sentimental norm in the selection of the headship of the secret police.
Whether for political, security and or many other reasons, past and present Nigeria presidents never exhibited that ethnic generosity, liberal federal character and statesmanship in the appointment of the headship of the service.
Recall that during the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, he appointed a southerner, Kayode Are, as head of the secret police, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua also appointed a northerner, Afakriya Gadzama to head the service, while President Goodluck Jonathan appointed a fellow South-South person, Ita Ekpeyong, President Buhari had toed the same line in appointing northerners, Lawal Daura and now Yusuf Magaji Bichi equally from his part of the country as the DGs of the Service.
Already, Bichi seems to have started well, leaving no one in doubt of his preparedness for the task ahead of him. According to insider sources, Bichi has equally demonstrated a clear understanding of his mission, vision and mandate since his confirmation recently. His core principles as disclosed by insider sources are staff welfare, professionalism and discipline. For him, these have been his three-point agenda since resumption.
To match words with actions, he has retained most of the appointments speculated to have consumed his immediate predecessor, Seiyefa. He has restored the confidence in the ranks and file of the personnel in the service, promising to uphold professionalism as his watchword. To him, DSS is one and must not self destruct.
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This is because, according to experts, a destroyed DSS is undoubtedly a major threat to project Nigeria – her stability, unity, progress and general cohesion. DSS is a stabilizer and must be seen to play the role. It must be insulated from politics and political manoeuvres.
Repeatedly, he has displayed certain actions and taken decisions that have stood him out as a detribalised person. So far, he carries all staff along. According to sources, he has been consulting all strata of personnel since assumption of duty. He was said to have stated that every cadre has its own challenges and he needs to understand such.
Even while in service, he was such a friendly person – easy going, highly accessible and a good listener. He really comes off as a core intelligence officer – talking less, but action oriented. With his home coming, he has not changed.
He is still the same Mr. Bichi, the open door operator. Except the criticism of coming from a section of the country, which is not his fault, no one has faulted his professionalism, efficiency and capacity to reposition the force.
Flexible but firm, he has promised to respect human rights and operate within the principles of rule of law. In all the consultations he has held with his management and staff, Mr. Bichi has continued to emphasise the need for the DSS personnel to be professional.
He is not the type of person that will intentionally undermine another person or the institution of government. He is a dove just as he is a balancer. He commands immense respect of staff. You cannot but like him. Reports indicate that he has started to improve the welfare of staff and also warned them to shun corrupt tendencies and undue influence by external forces.
With privileged security experiences gathered and garnered from various operational commands of the service before his retirement, Bichi, with an unblemished record, certainly seems to be the man for the job.
And since decision has been taken, with little or nothing to change the tide no matter how unfavourable, we must therefore eschew all forms of pull-him-down-syndrome, tantrums, and denigrations and introspectively channel our energies to fashion out security strategies and tips to enhance the operational efficiency of the service in Magaji Bichi, the new DGSS, a chance to prove himself. And until he disappoints anyone, we should simply support the man.
Ezike Chukwunonso wrote from Abuja