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There is some unease at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) following President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointment of Ahmed Rufai Abubakar as the new Director General of the agency.
Reports say about nine senior directors at the NIA could be retired in order to make for a smooth administration for Abubakar, who was a middle-level staff of NIA when he retired in 2012.
Premium Times quoted “a reliable NIA source” as saying that the senior directors “cannot” work under Abubakar, who was way their junior when he was in service.
According to the report, Abubakar joined NIA in 1995. He had worked with the Katsina State Government before then.
At the time Abubakar joined NIA, the DG of the agency was Zakari Ibrahim – a relative of his — who allegedly placed him two steps higher than his level 12 grade. Abubakar left the NIA in 2013.
Now that Abubakar has returned as head of the NIA, insiders say many members of the agency’s Senior Management Committee (SMC) who were his superiors may find it difficult working under him.
“Nine directors who are members of the SMC are also seniors to the new DG and cannot therefore operate under him,” the report said.
Abubakar is said to be considering seeking the approval of the National Security Adviser to mass-retire all those who were his seniors while he was in service and are now to be his subordinates.
But those who know say the mass retirement, if approved, will be a huge loss to the agency.
“These are highly experienced and well-trained pillars of the institution; retiring them on the altar of an inappropriate appointment will be harmful to the service and the country,” the source said.
The report also said Abubakar’s appointment was against the recommendations of a panel, which Buhari himself formed to “review operational, technical and administrative structure” of the NIA, after Ayodele Oke, the former DG, was sacked on allegations of corruption.
The committee, headed by Babagana Kingibe, former Minister of Foreign Affairs, with Abubakar as Secretary, submitted its report to Buhari on December 19, 2017.
The committee recommended, among other things, that the person to be appointed as new DG “must” come “from the corps of serving directors”, adding that seniority among the directors “should be a criterion, but not a determining factor”.
According to the report, this will “stabilize the agency, restore staff morale and challenge their professionalism, improve operations and sound financial management.”
But curiously, these recommendations were overlooked by Buhari when he named Abubakar as new NIA DG on January 10
When contacted, Femi Adesina, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, directed the reporter to Kingibe, Chairman of the NIA review committee, saying he is the right person to comment on the issues as the report is yet to be made public.
Premium Times said Kingibe could not be reached, as calls to his phone were not answered and a text message sent to him was not replied.
Also, Abubakar, the new NIA DG, could not be reached.