The sack of General Owoeye Azazi as National Security Adviser on Friday by President Goodluck Jonathan, though unsurprising, highlights the mounting pressure on the president to take proactive measures to end the spate of insecurity in the country, particularly the terrorist onslaught by the Islamic sect, Boko Haram. The Boko Haram insurgency is an issue of particular consequence for the country given its strangeness, religious bent, and its dangerous tendency to a bloody religious war.
Many expected the Muslim community in Nigeria to weigh in with more candid effort to rein in the new terrorist assault. By appointing a scion of the Sokoto caliphate to the sensitive post of NSA, Jonathan seems to be sending out a clear message that the leadership of Nigerian Muslims must take greater responsibility in the fight against the insurgency that has virtually razed the economy of northern Nigeria.
Sambo Dasuki, a retired Colonel, had left the army on heels of clashes with the late General Sani Abacha. He was in America for a long time and since he came back he had been largely quiet.
Analysts see his appointment as the product of intense negotiation bordering on attempt to end the Boko Haram insurgency.
Dasuki, a former Aide de Camp (ADC) to ex-military president Ibrahim Babangida, is the son of Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki, who was deposed as Sultan of Sokoto by late military dictator, General Sani Abacha. His uncle, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, is the incumbent Sultan of Sokoto and head of the Nigerian Muslim community.
The new NSA is certainly well connected within the northern oligarchy by reasons of birth and association. It is believed that he would be an effective hand in the effort to curb the Boko Haram terrorism, which is widely alleged to have the support of the elite in northern Nigeria. Some analysts believe Dasuki’s appointment might also be part of a political compromise between the President and the group that has been opposed to his government.
Dasuki is beginning his tenure under a giant dark cloud of insecurity brought about by Boko Haram insurgency in the north and rising spate of kidnapping in the south, including threats of a return to militancy in the Niger Delta. His predecessor’s tenure had been largely overshadowed by criticism of his perceived lack of vision and concrete action to end the wave of insecurity. Dasuki would be under pressure to turn things around, and quickly too.
A former managing director of Nigerian Security Printing and Minting Company Limited, Dasuki holds a Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and Master of Arts in Security Policy Studies. He had his military training in Nigerian and foreign institutions.
Some analysts have said Dasuki might not be much of a solution to the challenge of terrorism in the country because he had been away from the critical security and intelligence circles for too long to easily catch himself up on recent developments. He may also be having difficulty drawing a line between his political interests and national security interests.
The promising development, however, seems to be that the president has recognised the need to adjust his security strategy in line with current events. But the bigger disappointment will be if Dasuki fails to perform.
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