Politics of National Security, By Agatha Bulus



National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP, Iyorchia Ayu) must have been overwhelmed by the euphoria of assuming the leadership of his party when he told party members that PDP would not use security agents to harass the people when they take over Aso Rock in 2023. At a time of unprecedented security challenges, this is  least expected of the leader of a political party working towards emerging as ruling party.

 For Iyorchia Ayu to find nothing more encouraging to tell his party supporters about PDP coming to power than a curious assurance not to use “security agents, especially the DSS, to harass the people”  is not only utterly disappointing but also a disservice to national security. The specific reference to the DSS is particularly unjustified considering the fact that the DSS is generally regarded as the elite arm of security agencies, professionally-oriented and reputed for subtle efficiency, not high-handed harassment.

The PDP chairman has not issued a “clarification” as many of his colleagues do to salvage a slipped tongue and mitigate embarrassment. But such unapologetic stance cannot justify a sweeping denunciation of security agencies, especially when coming from politicians whose antics and utterances have posed major threats to peace, stability and development of the country since independence.

 As an academic and former Senate President, Minister of Education, Industry, Internal Affairs and Environment, Iyorchia Ayu certainly enjoyed the enviable benefits of DSS which is charged with the protection of senior government officials, among other specialized national security and related investigative functions. Ayu certainly cannot, even as a PDP big wig, recall witnessing what he now alleges against the DSS.

It must therefore be a figment of opposition imagination for crowd-charging purposes driven by zero-tolerance for incumbent government stability that transformed a former Senate President, Minister of Education, Industry, Internal Affairs and Environment into a rabble-rousing politician, with all the potential  security implications brushed aside as usual.

But Ayu should not be so myopic or forgetful. If and when he finds himself being national chairman of the PDP as the ruling party, he will be on the receiving end of such wild allegations without the option of purported exasperation.  It is doubtful also that Ayu has suddenly lost memory of the skulduggery and cloak-and –dagger antics that defines politics PDP, or rather, Naija-style, by a blend of which he managed to rise to the top of the heap – from where he now launches misguided missiles at his erstwhile protectors!

A fellow PDP big wig, chairman of the Deputies Forum and former deputy National Publicity Secretary of the party, Diran Odeyemi, had cause to caution Ayu about this in a valedictory speech to mark the end of tenure of the former NWC last December. He said, “Advice for incoming national chairman: please be just, fair and seek God’s guidance on issues that come to your table. The system that enthroned you can remove you at any time. It is our style in the PDP; (They chorus) Hosanna today, Crucify him tomorrow. In whatever position we find ourselves, let us be reminded that there will be tomorrow.”

From all indications, Ayu, now sitting tight as party chairman, has added these words of partisan wisdom to the victims of his political short-sightedness and dementia, just as he did to the DSS for years of harassment-free protective cover in his hay days. But suffice it to submit that the words of warning from Diran Odeyemi provide the alarmingly treacherous details of the “PDP style” of relationships and conduct of its affairs as a pointer to the source of the generally chaotic and retrogressive politics that drives our democracy, with deleterious impact on national security and development.

In such circumstances, it is the height of political hypocrisy for politicians in general and PDP Chairman Iyorcha Ayu in particular to disparage the nation’s security agencies in general and the DSS in particular even as they remain the last line of defence of Nigeria’s stability and sovereignty in the face of escalating challenges invariably linked to poor leadership and bad governance. The DSS has repeatedly uncovered and issued warnings against the clandestine activities of various politicians and groups poised to cause disaffection and instigate instability, as an avoidable addition to the burden of bandits and insurgents.

The comments of the PDP Chairman giving the erroneous impression that security agencies are out to harass people represents another example of the politicians’ tendency to pursue their power-seeking ambitions even at the expense of the integrity of security agencies, maintenance of law and order and ultimately democracy.

It is most unfortunate that political leaders who have occupied important public offices and thereby appreciated the necessity for preservation of peace, law and order in the quest for steady national development and progress, frequently forsake such patriotic values thoughtlessly. If there is no qualitative difference in conduct and utterance between the exuberant and misguided political thugs and their more “responsible” elders and leaders, democracy cannot survive and things will fall apart. Truly responsible political leaders should change their attitude towards security agencies so that the generality of citizens will also accept the reality of collective responsibility for national security, democracy and good governance.

Meanwhile, the disturbing details of what Diran Odeyemi described as “PDP style” of political relationships and party management should be a matter of serious concern, not just to the security agencies, but to all patriotic citizens of Nigeria., because it applies to the practice of politics across all parties, especially the big power-hungry parties. It is bad enough that our politicians have no ideological concerns as they camp and decamp solely in search of a dining table. But it is disheartening to know that politicians are devils who dine with long spoons in one hand and sharp daggers in the other in an uncompromising battle for menus or throats. If you get to eat today, you will be on the menu tomorrow. Where is the national interest ?

AGATHA BULUS wrote from Jalingo