By Ambrose Omorodion
Ahmed Rufai Abubakar looked crisp, calm and reassuring all through last week after resuming for work as the new Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). His visage, carriage and words of assurances to officers and men of the Agency brought some calm and a new sense of direction to an Agency that has been traumatized from the consequence of undue media attention which the agency is not used to. The support and solidarity Rufai is receiving from the entire workforce belies all the mediocre attempts to de-market him before Nigerians on a job for which he is eminently qualified. Simply, the will of traducers to expropriate him on the sensitive appointment he bagged to serve Nigeria, came to naught.
The story of Ahmed Rufai Abubakar and all attempts to pull him down is a good study on why Nigerians must always shudder before accepting every issue raised in the media while also looking for the real motive behind specific reports. This is necessary these days with the negative use of social media as a tool for churning out gibberish and false propaganda.
The new boss of NIA, given his pleasant persona and competence has every reason to romp into office in a proud gait and with a mindset to make the difference on his duty post. It was a thing of regret that opponents who had eyes on his seat needlessly raised the dusts, calling him names. They had questioned his nationality, competence and the motive behind his appointment, all in an attempt to turn back the hands of the clock. Yet, open and available records have shown that every single issue raised by the opponents was fabricated to mislead the public and distract from purposefulness
At this juncture, it is apposite for Nigerians to be abreast of how the NIA works and the mechanisms embedded in the structure to sort out unqualified and undesirable persons from the Agency.
The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) created on June 5, 1986 is a national agency saddled with the task of overseeing foreign intelligence and counterintelligence operations. NIA owes its existence to Decree 19 by the military government of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida in 1986, proscribing the notorious National Security Organisation (NSO).
Being a sensitive Agency, NIA has a very strict and robust processes for background checks and its impossible for unqualified or undesirable, persons to survive in the system. By implication, no foreign national can sneak into the Agency. It is also against the Agency’s rules for its officers to marry foreigners
The NIA DG was born to a Nigerian family in Kofar Durbi area of Katsina into a respected family of Quranic scholars. As was the tradition in Northern Nigeria and indeed, West Africa, Quranic scholarship took his uncle to Republic of 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 Government. Later he transferred his services to NIA in the 90s.
At different times, Abubakar served at the Nigerian 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 Advisor with the Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF), with headquarters in Ndjamena, Chad before his appointment as Senior Special Assistant to the President. He has always been fluent in English, French and became a versatile intelligence officer whose service is ever required in Nigeria’s Intelligence community.
He had also acquired extensive experience working with the United Nations in peace support operations, mediation process, preventive diplomacy and good offices, while all along helping to promote good governance and respect for the rule of law and human rights.
No one could have been more qualified for the top NIA job than Abubakar, who until his appointment was the President’s Senior Special Assistant on foreign Relations, Security and Intelligence analyst as well as Arabic and French interpreter.
Abubakar’s academic records are open for verification. He holds a B.A degree in French Language and Literature, and an M.A degree in Francophone Maghrebian Literature, both from Bayero University, Kano
Abubakar married from Katsina State contrary to speculations that he married a foreigner. He has also never been on record to have failed any examination throughout his career. There is no way the NIA in its finest tradition, would allow officers who failed exams to work for the President of Nigeria, even after retirement. It is common knowledge at the highest level of government that the NIA puts its best foot forward at every turn. That Ahmed Rufai Abubakar occupied a sensitive post in the president’s office is a clear indication that he is one of the best products of the NIA and the Agency is proud of him.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Diaspora, Honourable Abike Dabiri had helped to douse the issue of ethnicity woven round the appointment of Abubakar, stating at an open function, “If it is this Rufai that I Know and has worked with, honestly, he is the best person for the job and I really don’t care where he comes from”
In the same vein, Mallam Garba Shehu described him as “A perfect fit who is most qualified for the job. He has occupied various significant schedules in the agency in the course of which he received several awards. He left voluntarily to work for the United Nations.
Kudos goes to President Muhammadu Buhari for sticking to merit in appointing Abubakar to head the NIA, which deserves a new orientation after undergoing a season of embarrassing scandal and image fuss. In short, competence will make the difference for the new DG who faced a tempest to become an over comer.
* Ambrose Omorodion, a Public Affairs Analyst writes from Benin