Friday, August 12, 2022

EXCLUSIVE: Rufai Abubakar failed promotion exams three times, Buhari shouldn’t reappoint him, NIA directors warn

“The fervent prayer of your children is for you to adhere to these recommendations…so that one of us can be picked as the next DG…”

• December 22, 2021
Rufai Abubakar, Buhari
A composite of Ahmed Rufai Abubakar and Muhammadu Buhari used to illustrate the story

Internal wrangling is brewing within the National Intelligence Agency as chief spies of the agency warn President Muhammadu Buhari against reappointing its current director-general Ahmed Rufai because he is unqualified to head the NIA.

In a letter written to Mr Buhari on December 16, verified to be authentic by Peoples Gazette, NIA directors disputed Mr Abubakar’s appointment. They also protested against his possible reappointment, revealing that Mr Abubakar failed his promotional examinations three times before being compulsorily retired.

“YE (Your Excellency), the current DG, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, left the service in 2012, which was six (6) years before you appointed him as the DG. He was compulsorily retired after failing his promotion examinations, from Deputy Director to Director, three(3) times consecutively,” the NIA directors explained. “This appointment brought a kind of a very odd and awkward relationship between the DG and directors.” 

The directors also called Mr Buhari’s attention to the Babagan Kingibe’s committee set up in the wake of ex-NIA boss Ayodele Oke’s scandal, which recommended that future appointments of the director-general position be made from serving directors. 

“YE, we wish to call your attention to one of the numerous recommendations of this highly knowledgeable and technically professional committee. In paragraph four (4), the committee recommended that all future appointments of the DG should be sourced among serving directors, preferably, but not necessarily, the most senior among them, as has always been the case, since the establishment of the NIA, in 1986,” the disgruntled directors stated in the letter. “This recommendation, actually, removed the current DG, Amb. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, as even a candidate, as he was never a director in NIA or Serving at the time of the appointment.”

They made reference to a committee set up by Mr Buhari that included former NIA directors-general A.K. Horsfall, Zakari Ibrahim, E.O. Oladeji and Mr Abubakar to review the agency’s mode of operations. The committee was set up to prevent what led to the premature exit of the former DG, Amb. Ayodele Oke.

The protesting spy chiefs urged Mr Buhari to follow the recommendations of the committee, which would enable one of the current qualified NIA directors to be picked for the leadership role. 

‘YE, the fervent prayer of your children, is for you to adhere to these recommendations of the Kingibe Committee so that one of us can be picked as the next DG, instead of renewing the appointment of the current DG,” the letter said.

In 2018, Mr Buhari had appointed Mr Abubakar to head the Nigerian apex intelligence agency. This decision was heavily criticised following Mr Abubakar’s competence as he had earlier been forced out of the NIA for failing two promotion exams.

At the time, a civil society organisation called Concerned Nigerians had initiated an action against Mr Buhari at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court over the appointment of his former French translator. 

The Abubakar appointment debacle is similar to the appointment of Yusuf Magaji Bichi as SSS director-general. 

Also similar to both instances was the elongated tenure of his service chiefs. Initially appointed in 2015, after Mr Buhari assumed power, their services were extended by two years in 2015 and again in 2017 without an end. 

Usually, military personnel are expected to retire at 60 years or after putting in 35 years of service, according to the Federal Civil Service Rule. But the service chiefs spent between 36 and 40 years in service.

This marks another instance Mr Buhari disregarded institutional rules, stunting the career progression of other qualified personnel and further stoking the flames of ethnic tension in the country. 

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu told The Gazette that some of the concerns raised by the spy chiefs had been addressed four years ago. He did not elaborate as to how the issues could have been addressed four years ago when Mr Abubakar was only appointed in 2018 and is only due for retirement and tenure extension in 2022.

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