It is important to begin this piece with an incisive quote by 19th century American philosopher and essayist, Ralph Waldo Emerson who, by all means, was one of the greatest intellectuals of his time: “If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon, or make a better mousetrap than his neighbour, though he build his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door”.
The above excerpt was deliberately chosen to lay a foundation for the take-off of this intervention, which hopes to give fillip to the time-tested axiom that, “the reward for hard work, is more work”, especially in times of national crisis, when men of valour, experts, patriots, and statesmen become the messiahs’ needed to redress the balance, through the reconfiguration of institutions from margin to centre.
To be sure, the task of re-building, re-construction and re-organisation, has always been an arduous one, as a result of which introspection and deep thinking become resource materials/tools, that must be conjured, with a view to realising intended manifestations. Such are the tendencies that progressive nations employ, to stay on course.
The development becomes more compelling where developing nations – who are often in constant struggle for validation – are involved. “Necessity is the mother of invention”.
Institutions of state are the vehicles through which the essence, nature and meaning of society are realised. Simply put, nation-states find vivid expression in their establishments, which include ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs).
The fragility of the Nigerian State, and her claim to constitutionalism were taken to task in early August, 2018, when a fitting theatre of the absurd was unleashed on the National Assembly; the acclaimed bastion of democracy and Democratic practice.
Like a bolt from the blue, Nigerians watched with bowed heads as elements of the State Security Service (SSS) violated the sanctity of their Parliament. If the prevention of parliamentarians from accessing their sanctuary, did not qualify as violation, then what is it?
It was in recognition of the enormity of the faux pas, coupled with its implication on the sustenance and sustainability of democracy, that President Muhammadu Buhari – in his wisdom and circumspection – recalled the spy master, Alhaji Yusuf Magaji (YM) Bichi (fwc), to navigate the Secret Service out of the avoidable waves it sailed sailed into.
While announcing the appointment of Alh. Bichi as the Director-General of State Service (DG SS) on September 13, 2018, the Presidency had said, inter alia, that: “President Buhari has approved with effect from the 14th of September, the appointment of Yusuf Magaji Bichi (fwc), as new Director- General of the Department of State Services.
“The appointee is a core secret service operative. He attended Danbatta Secondary School, the Kano State College of Advanced Studies and the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, where he graduated with a degree in Political Science.
“The new Director-General began his career in the security division of the Cabinet Office in Kano, from where he joined the defunct Nigerian Security Organisation, the precursor of the Mr. Bichi has undergone training in intelligence processing analysis, agent handling recruitment and intelligence processing in the United Kingdom, as well as strategic training at the National Defence College.
“The new DSS boss comes to the job with skills in intelligence gathering, research analysis, conflict management, general investigation, risk and vulnerability operations, counter intelligence and protective operation and human resources management.
“In the course of his career, Mr. Bichi has worked as the State Director of Security in Jigawa, Niger, Sokoto and Abia states.
“He was at various times the 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 and Directorate of Administration and Finance”.
To say that the appointment of the man fondly called the “Reinventor” was designed
to bring back the glory of the Service, which was literally breaking under the weight of public opprobrium, occasioned – as it were – by what many had considered ignoble outings, is to say the least.
True to type, the spy master did not waste time before hitting the ground running, as is often said in the Nigerian parlance, by causing deliberate reorganisation in the areas of operations as well as intelligence gathering, administration, human capital development, infrastructural development among others.
With his carefully assembled management team, Bichi recognised the fundamental role motivation plays in organisational development, and accordingly, gave approval for massive recruitment of personnel. The well-trained personnel have since been deployed in respective State Commands and other formations across the country.
Against the backdrop of events of the past, the Bichi-led management placed heavy reliance on the immediacy of attitudinal change in the organisation, and among officers and personnel, with reorganisation and refocus as the ultimate gains.
Conscious of the need for optimal productivity, the Kano-born spymaster approved massive promotion of deserving personnel for that subsisting year, while also granting special promotion for personnel, who had remained on the same ranks, for a period exceeding the minimum period.
Also deserving of commendation on the part of the DG, is approval of conversion exercise for Guards, the immediate implementation of the Service’s harmonised salary structure.
Worthy of note also is the upgrading of the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), to the National Institute for Security Studies (NISS), by virtue of the Establishment Act (2019). By that development, the NISS has now been brought at par with policyformulating institutes like the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), and the National Defence College (NDC).
Further, the importance of training and retraining of personnel, amidst the dynamics of society, has continued to be prioritised, as witnessed in the continuous participation of personnel in several training programmes within and outside the country.
Apart from investing hugely in procurement of operational vehicles, technical equipment, platforms and wherewithalenhancement tools, the ‘humility- personified’ DG has not compromised his desire to meet the shelter and accommodation needs of staff.
It is, therefore, not surprising to find the construction of residential quarters, side-by-side with the purchase of additional building blocks scattered all over the country.
As if that was not enough, the DG approved medical financial assistance to sick personnel, not forgetting others with challenges that may appear overwhelming.
In addition to the aforementioned, is the go-ahead for the prompt payment of benefits accruing from pensions, and enhancement of claims payable to next-of-kin (NoK) of personnel, who have paid the supreme price, to ensure the sanctuary and inviolability of Nigeria.
Unlike in the past, transfer of personnel is no longer punitive, but strictly driven by necessity, even as there now exists “accelerated promotions and monetary rewards to personnel who have excelled in various special operations.”
To all intents and purposes, joint operations with sister agencies, may well be enjoying unparalleled recognition, more so that the distinguished fellow of the War College, never ceases to emphasise the importance of inter-agency synergy and collaboration.
Being a man that recognises excellence, dedication and selfless service to the organisation, Bichi reintroduced the DGSS Award Ceremony, aimed at rewarding “deserving staff who have contributed in ensuring that the Service effectively and efficiently performs its statutory functions”.
In the face of the security challenges, occasioned by terrorism/ insurgency, banditry, herdsmen/ farmers clashes, cybercrime among others, the Bichi-led management has continued to refocus and re-evaluate operations, thereby making them more intelligence and knowledge-driven.
To be sure, priority is now given to acquisition of critical, actionable and relevant intelligence that has the capacity to help in confronting what appear as daunting security challenges facing the country.
Perhaps, it was in recognition of the above, in addition to the prominent role the SSS under Bichi is playing in the management of oil theft in the creeks, that President Buhari found the calm, soft-spoken, but tough intelligence officer worthy of tenure renewal.
This is not forgetting the taming of the excesses of so-called unknown gunmen, Indigenous People of Biafra, and their organ, the Eastern Security Network (ESN).
While congratulating Bichi on a successful four-year term, as well as a well-deserved renewal for an equal period, I say his is a story that must be told which, indeed, abhors silence.
Richard Ikem, a retired DSS operative, researcher and public affairs analyst, wrote from Abuja