By Emmanuel Oloniruha
A Civil society group, Civil Society for Peace, Security and Development (CSPSD), has opposed a bill before the National Assembly seeking for an Act to provide a framework for the National Security Adviser (NSA) to employ its own permanent staff members.
Mr Obadiah Ovye, Co-Convener said this at a news conference in Abuja
Ovye was reacting to the bill, which seeks for the appointment of permanent Staff for the Office of the NSA and retention of quality and skilled manpower to enhance institutional memory and effective performance of the responsibilities of the Office of the NSA.
Ovye said that the bill If enacted, would give the NSA sweeping powers that would allow it to bypass existing checks and balances and operate with little oversight.
According to the proposed Act, the NSA may, among others, appoint such number of staff as he deems necessary and expedient for the proper and efficient performance of the functions of the office under the national security Act or any other law or instrument, centres or programmes established under the office;
”On such terms and conditions including remuneration, allowances and benefits as may be determined, from time to time by the NSA.”
Ovye asked that what has happened to the office of the Permanent Secretary, Special Services Office (PS SSO) designed to administratively coordinate the intelligence community and by implication serve as the institutional memory for national security management.
“Why does the NSA wish to become an Agency when Section 4(2) of the National Security Act categorically states that?
”The Coordinator on National Security shall be a Principal Staff Officer in the Office of the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces?
“Why does the NSA plan to operationalise his office with full compliments of permanent staff when such are already seconded by security agencies? Will this not enlarge the Budget which the Government is trying to reduce?
“While the prerogative to introduce bills rests with members of the legislative body, the bill in contention is shrouded in inadequacies that warrant careful scrutiny and consideration.
“The said bill, if enacted, would give the NSA sweeping powers that would allow it to bypass existing checks and balances and operate with little oversight.
“This would create a dangerous concentration of power in the hands of a single individual and undermine the principles of democracy and accountability.
“More disturbing is that the Act when in existence will undermine the president,” he said.
Ovye added that if the NSA’s office was to become independent, the dual responsibility of oversight and coordination could overwhelm the individual in the role.
He added that granting the NSA the power to independently recruit permanent personnel would open the office to political patronage without employees undergoing the traditional progression in ranks before assuming sensitive roles within the security architecture.
“In addition, the Office of the NSA does not have full autonomy and traditionally relies on staff from support agencies (Army, Navy, Airforce, Police, NIA and DSS) on secondment.
“This approach has proven effective over the years and fosters a cohesive integrated and collaborative approach.
“However, if the NSA’s office were to become independent, the dual responsibility of oversight and coordination could overwhelm the individual in the role.
“This would inadvertently lead to a fragmented system and impact adversely on timely coordinated execution of vital security initiatives with implication for the nation’s ability to respond effectively to emerging threats and challenges.
“Most importantly, the establishment of an independent agency by the NSA to handle security matters introduces the risk of creating a parallel platform.
“This new agency has the potential to operate independently and could, in effect, wield influence and authority thereby weakening the president’s control over security matters as the new agency could act independently, possibly going against what the president wants,” he said.
Ovye added that the establishment of the proposed units under the NSA by the bill would also increase the federal government cost of governance which it was trying to reduce.
Ovye expressed concerns on why the public hearing for the bill earlier slated before the end of January, 2024 was brought back to Saturday Dec. 30, 2023 without well circulated information for the change in date.
He implored Mr President, relevant stakeholders and patriotic citizens to stand against the bill to protect the integrity of the country’s security. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)