Some directors of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) have written to the House of Representatives Committee on Security and National Intelligence to prevail on President Muhammadu Buhari to drop Ahmed Rufai Abubakar as the new director-general of the agency.
Writing for and on behalf of Concerned Directors of the National Intelligence Agency, they used pseudo names such as E. O. Olanrewaju, Nelson Obiakor and Ahmed Sarki to protect their real identities.
The directors, in an advertisement published in THISDAY Thursday, described Abubakar as a misfit and unqualified for the post of DG of the NIA.
Since his appointment a few weeks ago by the president, various allegations have come to light over Abubakar’s nationality and competence to head the NIA.
Although the presidency came out stoutly at the weekend to defend the new NIA boss, the directors, in their letter to the House committee, said Abubakar failed to merit elevation to the rank of director and had retired from the service (NIA), but has now been appointed to come and preside over people who are not only his seniors in rank, but who fit into the order of precedence.
They said since the inception of the agency 32 years ago, nobody below the rank of director had been appointed as head of the NIA.
They warned that Abubakar’s appointment as DG would certainly set a dangerous precedent, with equally dangerous implications.
They threatened that should Abubakar go ahead with his plans to sack all the directors of the agency, the country should expect massive leaks of intelligence to hostile countries.
They told the lawmakers that the Clandestine Operations Unit of the NIA had been ordered to manufacture and clone documents that could be used to defend Abubakar, who from all indications was facing a legitimacy crisis.
They urged the committee to, in the interest of national unity, the federal character principle as enshrined in the constitution, fairness, justice, or even for common sense, prevail on the president to drop Abubakar as the DG of the NIA in the face of the obvious odds against his appointment.
“Coupled with this fact, it is an aberration to thrust the headship of Nigeria’s most sensitive security and intelligence organisation in the hands of people from the same ethnic stock, state and even town.
“In a country of over 200 million people, we feel it was not only highly contemptuous but dangerous,” they added.
Quoting Professor Itsey Sagay (SAN), the directors said they were indeed uncomfortable with Abubakar’s appointment.
They said: “Already, the nation is in a precarious security condition, and further penetration by hostile intelligence services could portend an even greater danger.
“It is very unlikely that we will be insulated from penetration if we are treated as renegades after putting in our best for the country.”
The directors noted that they were aware that part of the new DG’s agenda was to retire those of them who were once his seniors, because he was unlikely to want to work with them.
“It is evident that he will pursue a vendetta mission, which he has already indicated in his very first address to us.
“While we wish to state that he is at liberty to go ahead with what we know he intends to do, we wish to point out the underlying dangers in a massive purge of senior officers of the agency, to the effect that, not only will the millions of dollars spent on training and retraining us be lost, we are also custodians of the country’s intelligence dossiers and may decide to use same for mischief,” they warned.
The directors also alerted the nation to what they described as “an imminent threat to the cohesion for which the NIA has been known, as this is the first time a director-general was picked from the rank below that of a director”.
They warned that the nation’s security would likely become precarious under Abubakar whose link to Chad was investigated by the intelligence agency.
“In the event that Ahmed Rufai Abubakar finds it difficult to work with those of us who are still in service and who have better credentials, the choice left to the authorities is to revert to the status quo and allow a serving director who understands the dynamics to continue.
“Having failed promotion examinations to the directorship rank, which we can attest to, we make bold to state that it amounts to administrative suicide to allow a practical misfit take over the agency and later mortgage same to his paymasters, who have ulterior motives,” they stated.
The directors maintained that since the federal government itself had admitted that Abubakar was born and bred in Chad, “while on the other hand he claimed to have been born in Nigeria; at least going by his records and his CV, suffice it to point out that there is an obvious contradiction”.
They therefore called on the House to thoroughly look into this seeming discrepancy.
“As insiders, we are in a position to state that the process of vetting in respect of the new NIA DG negates conventional practice, as nobody has visited Chad where he claims to have grown up and schooled to probe into his differential associates, or even his likely espionage roles,” they added.
They explained that the rule requires that anybody being considered for such a strategic position must be vetted from the cradle.
“It is an incontrovertible fact that Rufai Abubakar’s links with Chad, a country with likely rival interest with Nigeria, makes Rufai suspect and not fit to head the country’s elite intelligence agency.
“It is necessary for us to alert that the issue of likely doubtful loyalty, is a serious issue in intelligence corridors. Where a person’s nationality or that of his spouse becomes unclear, thorough vetting from the cradle becomes even more demanding.
“In this case, it is very dangerous that the vetting process has been compromised, which is an ominous danger to the nation’s security,” they said.
The directors also said that it had become necessary to investigate the activities of the presidential panel under the leadership of Ambassador Babagana Kingibe and the current DG, noting that the panel was in the first place a contemptuous affront on the Office of the Vice-President.
According to them, “It is unheard of for an officer with a lower rank being appointed to review the work of a higher officer; more so the vice-president of the country.
“It is very curious that paragraph 4(1) of the recommendations of the Kingibe panel prescribes that a serving director should be picked as the director-general, only for the same characters that sat in judgment over the need to reorganise the NIA, turning around to violate its own recommendations, by picking one of them to contemptuously assume duty as head of the NIA.
“It is very clear from the onset that the Presidential Review Panel (PRP) led by Ambassador Babagana Kingibe was inaugurated purposely to defend Ambassador Ayo Oke, who had often threatened to spill the beans when the chips were down, as he will not sink alone.
“Oke had severally threatened to expose the beneficiaries of his largesse if they allowed him to be disgraced.
“The other obvious motive was to ensure that the remaining $44 million of the NIA intervention fund is kept within the reach of the cabal. The refusal of the immediate past acting DG, Muhammed Dauda, to allow them access to the money may be the under pinning reason for his removal.”
They asked the House committee to demand from the Kingibe-led panel a copy of its report and that of the vice-president, and probe if there was any substantial divergence.
“As the conscience of our democratic quest, we request you to look passionately into the issues raised and observations from other quarters where you can see that merit, fairness, justice, equity and competence have been sacrificed (on a platter of selfish personal quest) by Ambassador Babagana Kingibe and his associates,” they said.
TETFund Seeks Increased Annual Research Funding of $1bn
The Tertiary Education Trust Fund, TETFund, Thursday, urged the federal to increase its yearly funding for Research and Development (R&D) to $1 billion. This was as it hailed President Muhammadu Buhari for his recent increase of the research grant from N5 billion to N7.5 billion.
Prof. Suleiman Bogoro, executive secretary of TETFund, speaking at the inauguration of TETFund’s R&D Standing Committee in Abuja, said massive investment in research would bring about the much-needed development in the country.
Bogoro also said it was time for the promulgation of a law that will bring into full place what he referred to as the “National R&D Foundation (NRDF)” to deepen research in the country.
Hear him:”To galvanize our vision towards making R&D the ace and game changer in our national development agenda, the need for an appropriate law to support the establishment of a National R&D Foundation (NRDF) cannot be overstated.
“We need a robust institutional framework and arrangement for the NRDF. I am recommending a minimum annual budgetary threshold of 1billion dollars as the funding portfolio for this Foundation.
“When we consider the inevitable benefits of R&D and the inevitable benefits of R&D and the socio-economic challenges in Nigeria, this amount begins to look like a drop of water in the ocean-population of 200 million people in 2020 and projected to become double in 10 years for now.”
Prof. Bogoro, who said the TETFund’s R&D Standing Committee is expected to come up with its own recommendation on the required amount that is suitable for efficient research activities in the country, called for a robust collaboration between researchers and the private sector to bring about all-round development in the country.
“It is envisaged that the private sector of the economy should pick the gauntlet to steamroll the lofty initiative by taking ownership of it,” he said.
Prof. Bogoro lauded the recent performance of Nigerian universities in the world’s ranking, saying TETFund intervention projects have continued to encourage such feats.
On his side, Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, while inaugurating the committee, called on members to put their best to the work he described as ‘national assignment.’
Represented by the Minister of State for Education, Hon. Chukuemeka Nwajuiba, Adamu said that continued investment in research would herald a rebirth of Nigeria.
“Nigeria voted us into power predicated on our being able to transform our national aspirations and make them a national achievement.
“It is in recognition of this direction that the Executive Secretary, TETFund, presented his vision of a research-driven nation and how to finance that ambition through the Board of Trustees (BOT).
“To a large extent, Nigeria’s future depends on you. You have been summoned to a national service that is not available to the rest of the 200 million population. It is a national calling that requires almost all of you,” he said.
On his part, the Chairman, House Committee on Tertiary Education and Services, Hon. Aminu Suleiman said the work of the committee would open the windows of opportunities to tackle various developmental challenges confronting the country.
Suleiman, represented by Hon. Ikenna Elezieanya, lamented the way Nigeria has shown less concern to research, saying that many developed countries invested in research and development and thus helped to improve on their economy.
He said, “Research is the gateway of innovation. It is said that while countries like the USA, Korea, and the like have been investing in research and development, we seem to show less concern.”
He encouraged beneficiaries to take good advantage of the initiative to solve problems for the betterment of the country.
Responding, the Chairman of the over 160-member TETFund’s R & D Committee, Prof. Njidda M. Gadzama, said the epoch-making event will transform the socio-economic sector by ensuring the robust promotion of cutting-edge innovations.
“We promise to carry out our assignment with commitment and diligence and this will result in the R & D Culture and R&D Foundation to drive industrialization of the country,” he said.
The standing committee whose membership is drawn from the academic, industry, and private sector, has the President of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Mansur Ahmed, as one of the three Vice Presidents.
UNWTO, Google Host First Tourism Acceleration Program in Sub-Saharan Africa
The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately affected tourism, a sector that accounts for millions of jobs around the globe.
While no one can say with certainty when the sector will recover, people are starting to dream of getaways again – whether closer to home or to remote destinations.
As more and more people go online to search where and when they can travel, accelerating the digitisation of the tourism sector will be key to helping it adapt and recover.
This is why the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and Google have partnered to create and host an online Acceleration Program for UNWTO Member States’ tourism ministers, top travel associations and tourism boards to further develop innovation and digital transformation skills.
Today, ahead of World Tourism Day, the organisations hosted the first UNWTO & Google Tourism Acceleration Program focused on insights from Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa.
Tourism is the backbone of many economies around the world. As data from UNWTO shows, tourism represents 9% of global trade for Africa and 1 in 10 jobs directly and indirectly. Moreover, the sector drives inclusive growth, as women make up 54% of the workforce.
Natalia Bayona, UNWTO director of Innovation, Digital Transformation and Investments, said “UNWTO is committed to helping Africa grow back stronger,”
“With the right policies, training and management in place, innovation and technology have the potential to foster new and better jobs and business opportunities for tourism in Africa while improving the overall wellbeing and prosperity of the region”.
Africa is home to 30% of the world’s population, adding hundreds of millions of new online users every year.
Google Search is one of the places Africans go when researching and booking travel.
Doron Avni, Google’s Director of Government Affairs and Public Policy for Emerging Markets, said “We’re here to help the tourism sector recover from this unprecedented crisis and emerge stronger.
“Our travel data insights and tools can help tourism authorities identify and understand the barriers and drivers to visit travel destinations for better tourism planning.”
Below are some of the Nigeria travel data insights shared with participants in today’s session:
Since Nigeria announced its intention to reopen its borders to international travel on August 29th, search interest for travel has grown.
This slowdown presents an opportunity to rethink tourism, innovate and further develop the digital transformation of the sector so it can build the foundations for future sustainable growth.
MultiChoice in collaboration with Celestial Tiger Entertainment Launches KIX on DStv
Celestial Tiger Entertainment (CTE), the operator of the largest bouquet of pan-Asian channels dedicated to Asian entertainment, and MultiChoice Group, Africa’s leading entertainment company, has launched action movie channel KIX, on DStv.
KIX will launch on Premium, Compact Plus and Compact packages in Nigeria from 1st October 2020 at 6:00 pm WAT.
The launch of KIX marks CTE’s first foray into Africa.
Ofanny Choi, president of Celestial Tiger Entertainment, said, “We are very excited to be launching KIX on DStv in Africa with MultiChoice.
“Asian action entertainment has always resonated well with the audience worldwide, and we are proud to work with MultiChoice to bring this popular genre to viewers in Africa.
“With KIX’s proven success in Asia, we are confident we can deliver the best of action movies to our African audience.”
John Ugbe, Chief Executive Officer, MultiChoice Nigeria, said, “We at MultiChoice are delighted to announce the launch of this brand-new channel KIX, a channel that will expand our viewers content slate, giving them more variety and entertainment.
“Our customers are at the heart of everything we do and new collaborations such as this, help us expand their viewing experience”.
Action fans can enjoy a high-octane blend of martial arts, action and thriller movies from the East and West on KIX, all presented in English.
Apart from the latest star-studded blockbuster premieres, KIX will also showcase never-seen-before movies from the various action genres, including kung fu classics from the legendary Shaw Brothers library, action comedies, adventure and fantasy action franchises, and action thrillers.
While fans of Asian action movies will see the legendary Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Donnie Yen and Bruce Lee in action, KIX also aims to present and delight viewers with movies featuring all other Asian action stars.
With all genres of action movies spanning from the 1960s to the present day, KIX is a one-stop-shop for all action movies entertainment throughout the years, with something for everyone. Viewers can now watch KIX and its catch-up programming anytime, anywhere, on DStv and DStv App!
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