I was not surprised when I came across a write-up by the Human Rights Writers' Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) in which the body described as 'unacceptable' the sacking of all the Service Chiefs and sparing the Director-General State Services (DGSS), Yusuf Bichi, CFR by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR. It didn't take me a split second to figure out that HURIWA's action was not carried out in isolation. There is a saying in the South West where I come from that, the drummers for the dancing water lilies we see on the surface of the water are actually beneath the water. Bichi should have expected this and more are certain to come. In the build-up to any general elections in Nigeria, especially when the incumbent President has served his two terms, hopes are usually high among high ranking officers in the military, the Police, Department of State Services (DSS) and other para- military agencies with the possibility (usually a norm) of ascending to the highest rung of the ladder in the leadership structure. Such hopes were expected to be super high as we inched towards the last Presidential election, putting in mind the hues and cries from the general public about the perceived inefficiency of the country's security architecture, with many calling for leadership change in the military.
On Monday 19th June, 2023, when the announcement of the sack of the Service Chiefs by the President was made, I was not particularly surprised because I expected that, but the timing was never a thing I could fathom out. When I read the full report, I observed that the DGSS was not affected in the shake-up. I will also say I was not surprised. Since the assumption of office by the current DGSS, the level of professionalism with which the Agency has been operating is unprecedented. Setting aside the unbridled brigandage and undemocratic tendencies of some of his predecessors, Bichi charted a roadmap that led to the reclaiming of the Agency's glory that was on the precipice.
Did anyone wonder, as I did, about the objectivity of the DGSS in trying to investigate the immediate past Central Bank of Nigeria's (CBN), Godwin Emefiele for gross allegations of national security dimension, even when President Buhari that appointed him was still in power. No one should be quick to forget that the then Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Lucky Irabor (Gen./Rtd) prevented his arrest by the Secret Service. All the drama was staged in the middle of the electioneering process, with Emefiele coming up with new Naira notes policy that almost scuttled the elections.
Having studied President Tinubu over the years, I make bold to say he retained Bichi for his efficiency, professionalism, objectivity and neutrality. I will advise the new Service Chiefs to understudy his leadership style and work ethics for them to remain afloat across seasons.
Back to my initial warning for the DGSS. He should not expect all his personnel, especially high ranking officers, to be sincerely joyous over Mr President still keeping him. It is the law of nature, some of them must have shot up their ambition to take over his seat after the declaration of Tinubu as the President. Retired personnel can possibly be captured in this web. His counterparts in the military that were sacked are also a group that he should be wary of as, to them, Bichi seems to be the only good 'boy' among them. In the face of all this, Bichi should remain focused and professional, while he should also avoid any banana peel in his way.
By: Dele Sunkanmi