In a re-assuring strategic response to the felt need for a futuristic approach to redressing the human resource and operational challenges affecting the intelligence, national security and law enforcement performance levels, the State Security Service (SSS) recently unveiled the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS), a welcome upgrade and refocusing of its existing training academy.
It was a cheering sequel to the game-changing appointment of Yusuf Magaji Bichi, as new Director-General, that significantly restored its trademark discrete professionalism. After a period of administrative disruptions, the dire need for a stabilizing influence was met by the proven competence, experience and reputation acquired by the new DG in the course of a meritorious career across all the important service departments.
Amid concerns expressed about the apparent lapses in the ongoing counter-insurgency and other security operations to counter multiple criminalities across the nation, especially in the area of intelligence gathering, the new NISS’ mandate to promote inter-service, inter-agency and international cooperation, collaboration and harmony among intelligence, security and law enforcement agencies is apt. It will also conduct courses for middle and top level policy makers and executors from the security and law enforcement agencies, including civilians, from related institutions to broaden their security outlook and mainstream human security perspectives into public policy processes.
As the specialized professional training and academic arm of the Service, the NISS will award Postgraduate Diploma and Degree in the field of intelligence and security management and elevate Ph.D. holders to the rank of Professors in their respective areas of specializations. It will collaborate with universities or similar institutions, which share its objectives in the achievement of global peace and security and be a critical centre for research and dialogue, where distinguished academics, policy initiators and implementers meet to cross-fertilize ideas on national and global security issues.
By these upgrades and refocusing, the NISS would at last be at par with its other related contemporaries, such as the National Defense College (NDC) and the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), thereby completing the enhancement of status of the SSS with the full complement of facilities and agencies, while ultimately redressing observed inadequacies in its operations.
Meanwhile, DG Yusuf Magaji Bichi has already justified the confidence reposed in his ability to restore and enhance the overall professional capacity and efficiency of the Service within the first few months of his appointment by recording some remarkable achievements with high impact, especially on commitment and morale of personnel at all levels.
Observers of developments in the security sector have acknowledged the giant strides of the modest and unassuming DG, such as entrenchment of appropriate mechanisms, which have significantly improved professionalism and discipline amongst operatives, creating a more conducive work environment, improving relationship and liaison with other agencies, cumulatively manifesting in the numerous breakthroughs and operational successes, including arrest of notorious terrorists and criminals.
There is also a noticeable sense of belonging and enthusiasm among the personnel, seeing how the new DG has renewed attention to the all important but frequently neglected issues of improved staff welfare initiatives, improved local and overseas training for staff, greater attention to staff wellbeing and health, through procurement of adequate equipment and drug supply at the medical facility as well as adequate provision for treatment severe medical situations in specialist hospitals, at home and abroad.
From all indications, the SSS is witnessing a comprehensive rejuvenation and enhancement of performance under the leadership of DG Yusuf Magaji Bichi, that cannot be unconnected to his unique insight and experience as a professional to the core, whose versatility and capabilities have been tried and tried in several positions of responsibility in his career years.
Behind his quiet and humble disposition lies an impressive record of service, during which he worked as the State Director of Security in Jigawa, Niger, Sokoto and Abia States, Director, National Assembly Liaison, (National War College), Director at National Headquarters in the Directorate of Security Enforcement, Directorate of Operations, Directorate of Intelligence, Directorate of Inspection, Directorate of Administration and Finance and Director at the State Service Academy.
Definitely his is an example of vast experience being a worthy asset for outstanding service as well as actions speaking louder than words in giving the SSS just what it needs to perfect its invaluable strategic service to the country for now and the future.
Nevertheless, the new DG must maintain the momentum and scope of his welcome initiatives to strengthen the Service and raise its functional stature especially by forging ahead with measures to secure greater operational synergy with other security agencies in order to overcome lingering impediments to the infusion of vital intelligence obtained by the Service into the defense forces’ counter-terrorism strategies.
There is also need for the Service to develop an effective template for interfacing with the ever expanding and ever-changing community of CSOs and NGOs, including their foreign sponsors and partners, with a view to sensitizing them on the terms of their engagement in Nigeria, while stepping up its public enlightenment programmes to boost security consciousness in the polity.
Agada, a retired civil servant, writes from Port Harcourt