From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

A group, Civil Society for Peace, Security and Development (CSPSD), has kicked against a bill from the National Security Adviser (NSA) to establish an agency to provide a framework for the appointment of Staff of the Office to enhance institutional memory, effective performance of the responsibilities of the NSA and related matters.

Group’s co-convener, Obadiah Ovye, made the rejection during a press conference in Abuja, yesterday, arguing that if the NSA’s office becomes independent, the dual responsibility of over-sighting and coordination could overwhelm the individual in the role.

Ovye wondered why such important bill should be shrouded in so much secrecy and suspension not to have emanated from the president as an Executive Bill.

CSPSD further argued that the establishment of an independent agency by the NSA to handle security matters introduces the risk of creating a parallel platform, expressing fears that the new agency has the potential to operate independently and could, in effect, wield influence and authority to weaken the president’s control over security matters.

Enumerating reasons on why it is against the bill, the group said: “The proposed bill and urgency to pass it into law is nothing but a desperate attempt by the NSA to not only usurp the powers of the agencies under it, but also raises questions about the balance of authority and the potential impact on the existing framework.

“It also raises concerns about the overarching intentions of the bill which are obviously not in line with the principles of effective governance and transparency. The establishment of these units under the NSA not only amount to a direct encroachment on the responsibilities of existing organisation but in the long term, would have potential consequences on the coordination of national security efforts.

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“Indisputably, granting the NSA the power to independently recruit permanent personnel is tantamount to opening the door to political patronage and cronyism as well as potentially compromise the integrity of security operations. It could also give room for those recruited to enter the organisation without adhering to the usual background checks.

“Subsequently, those appointed may not undergo the traditional progression in ranks which is a fundamental requirement for assuming sensitive roles within the security architecture. In the end, the hierarchical structure and integrity of personnel entrusted with crucial security responsibility will indubitably be compromised.”

Defending its position further, the group said: “On the other hand, recruitment from the top opens the security architecture to moles, spies and politically exposed persons who may have leanings towards particular political orientations where as such staff should be apolitical.

“It is also looking like someone is interested in expanding the Office of the NSA for selfish political reasons. This bill is nothing short of a political manoeuvre capable of inciting significant unrest among the security agencies.

“We are, therefore, drawing the attention of Mr. President, all relevant stakeholders and supporters of this great country, Nigeria, to oppose the ill- intentioned and ill-conceived bill which is aimed at monopolising the country’s security apparatus at the detriment of our national interest.

“The legislation is harmful and we implore Mr. President and patriotic citizens to join hands in standing against it to protect the integrity of our country’s security.”