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The DSS Operates Within its Mandate




By Dr. Peter Afunanya

Recently, about five major newspapers called out the DSS for bashing of sorts. The papers, which used their platforms to express varied views about the modus operandi of the Service include Vanguard, Daily Trust, The Sun, Tribune and Punch. While Vanguard’s piece on 2nd June 2023 was Dousing the DSS/EFCC Feud, Daily Trust, on 6th June 2023, published an editorial titled The DSS Must Conduct Its Duties as a Secret Service.

The Sun, on 7th June, published The Needless DSS/EFCC Fracas while Tribune on 8th June 2023 wrote on The EFCC/DSS Confrontation.

Similarly, on 14th June 2023, Punch featured DSS, Others Need Radical Reforms.

It did not seem that the editorials which sought the reforms of the DSS or to criticise it for its public statements or actions on various subject matters of national security concern were, by any means, an accident or a coincidence.

It looked every inch planted or organised. It is a hatchet job or so it seemed.

The judgement that the Service is excessively public or ubiquitous missed the point. The papers manifested predictable bias and patterns. 

Relatedly, some respected legal personalities namely, Olisa Agbakoba SAN, Mike Ozekhome SAN and Femi Falana SAN opined that the Service operates outside its mandate especially with regards to the investigation of Godwin Emefiele. The fact that this matter has become sub-judice constrains the Service from making further statements about it.

The celebration of the news of a court order to allow his Lawyers and family access to him is quite unnecessary. He was never denied access. Ever since he was taken into custody, his family has continually accessed him. Same with medical officials. The impression that the Service is going to act on the prompting of the Court is not correct. This is by the way. 

Back to the subject under discourse. While it may be fair to admit that the news media and aforementioned personalities are entitled to their opinions, measured ignorance predominantly played out in their arguments. First, they failed to recognise that security threats are evolving and so do the approaches to managing them. Instructively, the security landscape in Nigeria, like many other countries, has become increasingly complex and dynamic.

The periodic issuance of press statements to educate or carry citizens and residents along has undoubtedly become part of strategies to manage national security challenges. Extensive research would have revealed to the critics that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and other world intelligence Services deploy similar tactics including occasional statements and advisories.

The CIA includes demographic information on its website to provide the public with valuable insights and data about various populations so to enhance understanding of different regions and communities. Does it mean CIA is operating outside its mandate? Or will that be accepted because it’s CIA, a foreign body? 

The need for the agencies to be responsive, transparent and apprise taxpayers has become the global norm in national security and intelligence management. It is called security/intelligence accountability. The tenets of security and intelligence governance expect that agencies remain transparent, accountable and compliant to democracy. World over, Intelligence Services operate in ways and means not too discernable to the uninitiate. But the institutionalisation of democracy as preferred political culture has nonetheless forced such agencies to communicate often with the Public. You can see why the public statements can never be out of place.

Without public consciousness and support, countering threats may remain a herculean task for security agencies. Democratic subordination and legislative oversight are basic principles which make it an obligation for these agencies to operate openly even when some of their activities are secret. Ask the USA, UK, France, Canada and other advanced democracies. This level of openness does not vitiate the expected secrecy or in any way compromise their operations. 

Regarding the matter concerning the DSS and EFCC, both agencies have refuted claims of a rivalry. It is important to note that comparing the 30th May, 2023 incident at 15 Awolowo Road, Lagos to the barricade of National Assembly in 2018 is inaccurate and unjust due to the substantial differences in the nature and context of the two events. While it is essential to emphasize inter-agency relations and cooperation, it would be unfair to generalise and imply that the Service is in rivalry and power struggle with the Commission. Each agency operates within its distinct mandate and context.

Meanwhile, the editorials accurately alluded to the constitutionality of the DSS as an intelligence organisation in detecting, preventing and neutralising threats against Nigeria. They commended the Service for its commitment to the security of the country as well as the many feats it had accomplished in the course of discharging its duties. Thank you indeed. It has to be understood that the Service is not only an intelligence organisation. It is also a law enforcement agency. It is a security and policy advisory organ. Its establishment law expects it to prevent.

To prevent unarguably means to enforce. Should the Service seek media endorsement or permission before deploying operatives and equipment to conduct its job? Should it rather play to the gallery? Characteristic of intelligence operating systems, DSS’ activities may never be completely explained or understood particularly to those who do not need to know. 

Even though some of its high officials and operations are known and their veils of secrecy uncovered, there are thousand undercover personnel and actions that have no business going public. It is expected to remain so. With its broad mandate and legal authority to investigate crimes of national security significance, the DSS is well within its rights to initiate an inquiry into any relevant matter. The DSS is primarily charged to detect and prevent crimes and threats against the internal security of Nigeria.

More profoundly, it is to undertake such other responsibility as maybe assigned to it by the President and Commander-in-Chief. Appreciating this role of the DSS is instructive for some sections of the media, lawyers and other interested parties.  The Service operates on the basis of rule of law. Its operations are rule governed. As required, it obtains arrest and detention warrants when and if needed. For the fact that such instruments are not advertised does not suggest otherwise.

Critics should get conversant with the law and rules of engagement and desist from misinforming, misleading or inciting the public. Those seeking to weaken the Service through premeditated reforms may be on a wild goose chase. Consistent attack on it based on ignorance, unrealised interests and emotional assessments and judgements does the country no good. The DSS has stood so firmly for Nigeria. It will continue to.

Considering the warped mentality that has triggered these writeups, it will, no doubt, be unsurprising to witness an upsurge in malicious articles, criticisms and baseless attacks in the public space following the investigations of Messrs Godwin Emefiele and Abdulrasheed Bawa among other flimsy matters. Certain groups and people are bound to come up with frivolous allegations against the Service and its leadership.

These entities may also exploit unpatriotic members of the Service to spread falsehoods, propaganda and hate in order to project the Organisation in a bad light. Given their reach and war chest to mobilise forces against Government and its key officials, the adversaries may intend to cause distractions to the on-going investigations as directed by the C-in-C. However, the Service will not depose its professionalism for cheap backlash nor discharge its duty with prejudice or fear. 

For those who canvass the opinion that the DSS has no business in investigating the matters referred to it are obviously not taking seriously the omnibus powers of the President, as enshrined in the enabling Acts of the SSS and the NSA. As argued by a onetime Director of the DSS, Fubara Duke, “When a law confers on the President power to delegate ANY assignments he deems fit for a particular Agency to perform, I wonder how it falls outside the purview of (ANY) the stipulations of the President’s powers and by extension why the DSS is being faulted for carrying out the President’s directive”. Continuing, he added: “I have heard arguments of cases being thrown out by the courts over questionable prosecutorial powers of the DSS regarding some categories of cases including criminal cases.

Without prejudice to the wisdom of the court on such judgements, they should not override the lawful investigative authority of the DSS. Should there be need for prosecution in due course, these determinations would be appropriately evaluated and where/if necessary, appropriate prosecutorial agencies which may include the Attorney General’s Office or other sister agencies may be deployed to prosecute. It is not the first time this has happened”.

Let it be clear, however, that the DSS will remain unshaken and professional in carrying out its duties. It recommits to diligently operate, as always, within the confines of the law and to uphold the fundamental rights of all Nigerians. The media must, as the fifth estate of the realm, remain balanced, accurate, impartial and accountable. To sustain a deliberate misguidance of the public with any form of misconceptions is detrimental to nationhood. Therefore, to deepen the expected contributions, seeking veracity is not only ethical but obligatory. That should not be asking for too much.

Dr. Peter Afunanya, fsi, Public Relations Officer Department of State Services


Natsaha Akpoti-Uduaghan : Beauty, Brains, Brawn on Eve of 44




By Tunde Olusunle

She was a breath of fresh air when she joined the political fray in Kogi State. She’s an attorney who is reputed for her efforts in advocacy. She is also a multitasking entrepreneur and dedicated philanthropist. She certainly was not the first woman to aspire to elective office in the “confluence state,” an alias which derives from the convergence of Nigeria’s largest two rivers in the capital of her state.

She came, however, with distinctive flair, style, guts, grit and elocution.
The trademark veil over her head re-echoes memories of the iconic former Pakistani Prime Minister, Benazair Bhutto.
Like Bhutto, Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan is cerebral, self-confident, articulate, charismatic and strong-willed.
Recall she outrightly rejected the congratulatory message of Yahaya Bello, outgoing governor of Kogi State, after she floored Sadiku Ohere, the former’s candidate for the Kogi Central senatorial seat at the appellate court weeks ago. Akpoti-Uduaghan alluded to attempts on her life by Bello’s henchmen in the run-up to the February 25, 2023 general elections. On that occasion, she ran for the Senate on the platform of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP), against Bello’s candidate, Ohere, who contested on the banner of the All Progressives Congress, (APC). 

Akpoti-Uduaghan started out years ago as a member of the APC in Kogi State. She aspired for the governorship ticket of the party in the lead up to the 2019 poll to no avail. Frozen out of the APC scheme, she moved over to the Social Democratic Party, (SDP), and made serious waves on her campaign outings. As she prepared to launch out on her second political advent and participation in the 2023 polls, Bello, according to Akpoti-Uduaghan, offered her the sum of N50million to jettison her ambition. She turned it down without batting an eyelid. She was similarly unimpressed with Bello’s increment of his offer to N70million. She told him she was not in politics for primitive fiscal acquisition, but was driven by a genuine conviction to serve her people. Bello, she confirmed, was furious at her unbending resolve.  

And so she was back again on the campaign dais like the proverbial phoenix ahead of the 2023 political cycle. The proverbial ram in Yoruba folklore which took a few steps backwards in a contest with its challenger did not back out of the duel out of cowardice. No. It retreated to gather more steam and velocity to fight more pointedly and more determinedly. Akpoti-Uduaghan undertook due diligence about the most appropriate political vehicle to help the actualization of her quest. Despite efforts to annihilate the PDP at all levels by the incumbent APC, she was convinced that that party would serve her purposes. And so, she was on the road again, repeatedly touring the five local government areas in her senatorial district and spreading the gospel of the kind of impact she would bring to bear on her people if voted into office. She severally toured Adavi, Ajaokuta, Okehi, Okene and Ogori-Magongo council areas within her senatorial catchment sensitising her people and requesting their support for her bid. 

The APC was paranoid on the eve of the February election on account of Akpoti-Uduaghan’s ever rising political profile. Totally bereft of ideas about how to stop the rampaging amazon, agents of the APC excavated all three accesses to the PDP senatorial candidate’s home. The idea was to prevent electoral officials from reaching her community and its environs, with the aim of disenfranchising that critical constituency in the poll. Akpoti-Uduaghan also noted that that orchestrated action could compromise her personal security and the safety of her people in the event that they had emergencies. Bello would thereafter concur to the act, saying the action was taken in the PDP senatorial candidate’s best interests, to prevent intending terrorists from attacking her on the eve of the election, a most unintelligent alibi. 

After the senatorial election of Saturday February 25, 2023, the Independent National Electoral Commission, (INEC), declared Abubakar Sadiku Ohere of the APC as winner of the contest. INEC’s Returning Officer for Kogi Central, Rotimi Ajayi, a professor at the Federal University Lokoja, (FUL), stated that Ohere garnered 52,132 votes, while Akpoti-Uduaghan secured 51,763 votes. Ohere was thereafter issued a Certificate of Return by INEC and sworn in as a Member of the 10th Senate early June 2023. Undaunted and dogged, Akpoti-Uduaghan promptly sought justice at the Election Petitions Tribunal.

September 6, 2023, the tribunal ruled that the PDP candidate was the rightful and authentic winner of the contest. Akpoti-Uduaghan actually polled 54,074 votes, as against Ohere’s 51,291 votes. The judges observed that results from “nine polling units in Ajaokuta local government area, were inflated, while the votes of Akpoti-Uduaghan were intentionally reduced by INEC ward collation officers.” Dissatisfied and prodded by his principal, Ohere proceeded to the Court of Appeal for further adjudication. Tuesday October 31, the court dismissed Ohere’s appeal as “lacking in merit.” It declared Natasha Akpoti-Uduaghan as the “duly elected candidate for the Kogi Central senatorial election held in February 2023.” She was inaugurated as senator Thursday November 2, 2023, at a ceremony held during plenary, under the supervision of Godswill Akpabio, President of the Senate. She made history as the first female senator from Kogi State. Instructively too, she effectively dilutes the preceding Kogi all APC-cast in the senate of the federal republic.

Natasha Hadiza Akpoti-Uduaghan was born December 9, 1979, in Ilorin, Kwara State, to Jimoh Abdul Akpoti and Ludmila Kravchenko, a Ukrainian. Abdul Akpoti who hailed from Obeiba-Ihima, Okehi LGA in Kogi State, met his wife while training as a medical doctor in the Eastern European country of Ukraine, several decades ago. A “home girl,” she was educated at Christ the King Nursery and Primary School, Okene; Government Girls Unity School, Oboroke, and the Federal Government College, Idoani, Ondo State. She demonstrated leadership potentials even as a young girl, and was the “Head Girl” in her final year in secondary school. She was serially acknowledged as quiet, hardworking, disciplined and diligent, and always posted sterling academic performances. She studied law at the University of Abuja, enduring an intricate balance between her academics and early motherhood having gotten married at the tender age of 19. Her first son, Daniel was born within the period. 

She attended the Nigerian Law School, Bwari, Abuja beginning from 2004, and was called to the Bar November 2005. She obtained a masters in business administration from the University of Dundee, Scotland, in 2012. She previously served as legal counsel at the Brass Liquefied Natural Gas, (LNG) complex during which she travelled expensively across the world. Akpoti-Uduaghan has acquired pluri-dimensional competencies in management, mediation, leadership and arbitration among others. Her soft, humane side has been influenced considerably by her father’s selflessness and generosity. He was famous for treating many of his patients free in the course of his private medical practice unconcerned about profit-making. 

On Saturday March 5, 2022, Natasha Akpoti got wedded to the Itsekiri billionaire, Emmanuel Oritsejolomi Uduaghan, the *Alema of Warri.* The event took place in Akpoti-Uduaghan’s primordial homestead in Ebiraland, Kogi State. The chief host was the recently departed *Ohinoyi of Ebiraland,* His Majesty, Ado Ibrahim. It was chaired by a former governor of Edo State, John Odigie-Oyegun, who also previously chaired the APC at the national level. Dignitaries at the high octane event included: Bukola Saraki, former Senate President; the *Olu of Warri,* His Majesty Tsola Emiko; the groom’s cousins and former governors of Delta State, James Ibori and Emmanuel Ewetan Uduaghan. Former Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa; incumbent Senate President, Godswill Akpabio; former PDP Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, among several dignitaries, honoured the event.  

Akpoti-Uduaghan’s first contribution on the floor of the Senate was to request that the recently departed Ohinoyi of Ebiraland, Ado Ibrahim be immortalised. She spoke of his disposition as an urbane father and patriarch, and an apostle of peace all through his 25-year reign. Within the period, his sociocultural domain witnessed some physical development. She canvassed the rechristening of the Federal College of Education, (FCE), Okene,  after the transited royal. Akpoti-Uduaghan was recently named Senate Committee Chairman on Local Content as replacement for her former sparring partner, Ohere. She was concurrently appointed Vice Chairman of the Committee on Steel. That she is in leadership positions in both very important committees, attests to her qualities and capabilities. Akpoti-Uduaghan’s advocacy for the resuscitation of the moribund Ajaokuta Steel Project located in Kogi Central, her primary sphere of representation, will gain desired traction, courtesy of her placements in the upper parliament.

The multibillion dollar complex has been emblematic of abandonment, waste, greed, graft, mismanagement in the past four decades now. Akpoti-Uduaghan grew up in Ebiraland and is fully cognisant of the humongous resources in foreign exchange previously sunk into the project which, nonetheless, has remained dysfunctional. The decrepit, melancholy-eliciting condition of the sprawling steel city is best appreciated via a drive through the gargantuan, multidimensional “steel city” of Ajaokuta. Akpoti-Uduaghan wants to proceed beyond preceding peripherals and platitudes to add breadth to the strident advocacy for the functional resuscitation of the octopoidal complex. It is very close to her heart because of its potential to sustainably impact the economy of her people, her state and Nigeria at large. 

Tunde Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, scholar and author, is a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (FANA)

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Business Analysis

CBN’s Monetary Policy Committee Meeting and the Frenzy? 




By Ademola Oyetunji 

The atmosphere in the Nigeria’s financial sector is in a state of frenzy. Stakeholders are befuddled on why the apex bank’s monetary policy committee have not met. This is because the CBN had twice postponed the meeting under the leadership of its new Governor.


The first postponement scheduled to hold shortly after the appointment of Mr.

Cardoso and his four deputy governors, was obviously put on hold to enable them settle down.
The reason could also be that the new management team needs time to study and digest President Tinubu’s 8-point agenda and current trends in the financial system to align them with his vision.

 Mr. Cardoso at the NASS screening had promised to ensure the independence of CBN. He also pledged to ensure that the CBN under his watch will play its role as a catalyst for growth, and adviser to the government.  He said “his-CBN” will shy away from interloping responsibilities.

It is also a common knowledge that President Tinubu had ordered a clean house of the Bank believed to have veered of its mandate under the immediate past governor.

It is also a public knowledge and concern that the Naira has been under attack by speculators and rent seekers, a chronic headache for the Bank’s new helmsmen. Forex illiquidity has also become malignant. Thus, convening the MPC meetings amidst these challenges may not be an immediate priority, rather they have been unobtrusively addressing and stabilizing the financial sector. The gains of these efforts are visible, though the parallel market is still chaotic.

The postponement of what was supposed to be its last meeting for the year further heightens the palpable fear and uncertainties of the consequences of the MPC not meeting. Stakeholders’ fear cannot be dismissed as Nigerians battle economic hardship, rising food inflation and unbridled Naira depreciation.

However, the CBN Act 2007 section 12 saddles the Committee to ensure price stability and support economic policy of the federal government. The Committee consists of the Governor as the chairman, the four deputy governors, two members of Board of Directors, two members appointed by the Governor, and two members appointed by the President to formulate monetary and credit policy. 

It is the highest policy making organ of the Bank responsible for reviewing economic and financial conditions in the economy. It also determines the appropriateness of policy applications in short to medium term, and regularly reviews Bank’s monetary policy framework, and adopt changes when necessary. 

The Act mandates the Committee to communicate monetary and financial policy decisions effectively to the public and must ensure the credibility of the model of transmission mechanism of monetary policy. It is to meet bi-monthly, except otherwise (as it is the case presently) or on emergency.

Until the appointment of the present CBN Governor, the Committee had met four times under the last dispensation. It is also a public knowledge that boards of federal parastatals and agencies were dissolved by the President with many yet to be reconstituted. The CBN board is one of those dissolved and yet to be reconstituted, neither is it a public knowledge that the President has nominated his two candidates. 

Hence, the Bank presently does not have the required number to form a quorum, nor the Governor and his deputies have the constitutional mandate to overtly make certain monetary policy decisions without the approval of the Board.

The concern by the public is normal, particularly the way economic saboteurs have been attacking the Naira and manipulating the parallel forex exchange market. The concern is also noted considering the latest inflationary figure, 27.33%, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

But to allay the fears of the public, the Bank’s spokesman, Dr. Isa Abdulmumin had on the eve of the scheduled September MPC meeting issued a press statement to announce its postponement. He regretted any inconvenience the change in date may have caused the Bank’s publics. 

The hullabaloo over non-holding of the meetings may have been misplaced but expected. And with Nigeria’s current economic reality, it behooves the economic managers to be strategic in meeting economic saboteurs at their wits ends.

Notable economists and financial technocrats have entertained worries over continuous postponement of the organ’s meeting. They believed it may further heighten economic uncertainties. Mr. Boluwafemi Agboladun, a chartered accountant, expressed fears that the silence from the Bank amidst economic turbulence is unsettling as no concrete reason was given for not holding the meetings. 

He was however quick to add that the strategy adopted so far by the new management of the Bank is yielding positive dividend. There is stability in the forex market, and Naira exchange rate is no longer volatile. The strategic management adopted by the CBN so far, he noted, is commendable, making currency peddler unsure of what next is coming out from the Bank.

Agboladun also felt that the new CBN Governor may have decided to start the new year with his own monetary policy calendar after he would have gotten a clear heads-on of the fiscal direction to align it with his monetary policy philosophy. He stressed that, it is better for the CBN and the government to have a clear distinction in roles, unlike the muddled and overlapped responsibilities witnessed in the last administration.

Feranmi Deepak, a public commentator, was not surprised that the meeting, though statutory, has suffered two postponements. He was only worried that the outcome of the meetings would have avail the public of the monetary policy direction of Mr. Cardoso, as it would have road mapped investment decisions by local and foreign investors.

The CBN, he observed, may also be taking its time coming out with its agenda. This, he noted, may be due to the ongoing economic diplomacy drive of the President who has been unrelenting in his travels, marketing Nigeria. Therefore, the CBN, he said, “may be collating all he has been saying to the investing community to develop its monetary policy roadmap as government banker and advisor”. 

He was optimistic that the MPC meeting would assume its normal mode next year, when probably the President in his wisdom would have reconstituted the bank’s board to allow for normalcy in its calendar and restore stability in the financial sector.

*Ademola Oyetunji writes fro

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MC ALLI: 1944-2023

By Tunde Olusunle

The uncanny combination of his names which featured Christian and Muslim epithets was sufficiently intriguing to tickle my curiosity and inquisitiveness. He had become a notable public figure back in 1986 when Nigeria’s military President, Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida appointed him military Governor of the old Plateau State.

Seven years thereafter he was catapulted to the position of Chief of Army Staff, (COAS) under the regime of Sani Abacha.
Abacha had upended the Interim National Government, (ING), hurriedly cobbled together by the departing Babangida in August 1993, as he bowed to popular pressure to disengage.
This clamour became more rancorous following Babangida’s mismanagement of the “June 12, 1993 election,” which was patently won by the charismatic multibillionaire business mogul, Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola, but summarily annulled by Babangida.

In a military dispensation, the office of COAS is nominally and politically the Number Four position. There is a “Chief of Staff,” Supreme Headquarters,” (CSSH), or a “Chief of General Staff, (CGS),” in the Number Two placement. There is also a Chief of Defence Staff, (CDS), who often doubled as the coordinating hub of the three military services, the army, navy and airforce. He was therefore labelled “Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, (CJCS).” He was Number Three in the political hierarchy of a military government. Professionally and operationally, however, the position of COAS was the de facto Number Two. He superintended over the army, easily the largest defence and fighting arm of the military complex. He reported directly to the Head of State, who was concurrently the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. 

Historically, the COAS was always also a Member of the nation’s highest policy and decision-making organ in a military government. The body has been variously christened over decades of military rulership. It was at some point the “Supreme Military Council,” (SMC), and later the “Armed Forces Ruling Council,” (AFRC). Abacha opted for the designation of the body as “Provisional Ruling Council,” (PRC). The COAS is a highly regarded and influential office popularised in the past by military greats like Yakubu Jack Gowon, Hassan Usman Katsina, Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, Alani Ipoola Akinrinade, Babangida, Abacha himself and Aliyu Mohammed Gusau. 

Abacha named Mohammed Christopher Alli, then a Brigadier-General his COAS upon his disbandment of the ING in November 1993 and simultaneously elevated him a Major General. Alli was a battle-tested, war-toughened officer who fought in the fiesty Nigerian civil war between 1967 and 1970, and commanded a battalion even as a fresh joiner into the military. Alli had also served  as Nigeria’s Defence Attache to Zimbabwe; Director of Military Intelligence, (DMI) and General Officer Commanding, (GOC), of One Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army, headquartered in Kaduna. Alli was therefore very well groomed for his new job. 

I was on the Editorial Board of the *Daily Times* at the time Alli was appointed COAS. I had the added responsibility of maintaining a weekly interview page which I christened “Dialogue this Week.” I had the latitude to interview reputable Nigerians across the broad spectrum of the society on topical issues. The simple mention of the name of the organisation, opened doors. Tunji Oseni, who succeeded the suave and debonair Yemi Ogunbiyi. The latter had launched a massive rebuild of the Daily Times behemoth following his appointment as Managing Director in 1989. Oseni worked hard to keep apace with Ogunbiyi’s multi-pronged legacies. I therefore wrote an official letter to Alli requesting to meet and interview him. Alli replied my correspondence. It was a surprise somewhat knowing how insular the military could be. His military assistant at the time, I.I. Hassan a Lieutenant Colonel, acknowledged my letter and proposed a date for my visit early in the month of February 1994. 

*MC ALLI* beamed from the name tag on the breast of his work gear when I came face to face with him. My preliminary impression of him was that he was urbane and personable. His father, he told me in answer to my preliminary banter, was a Muslim, his mother was a Christian. His bouquet of names which are popular with both religions therefore arose from this background, that intriguing mix of “Mohammed” and “Chris” (abbreviated from the original version of the name, Christopher). He displayed notable wit and diplomatese for a steely, rugged soldier. I congratulated him once again on his appointment. “You want an interview,” he asked as he proferred his hand for a handshake and waved me to the visitor’s seat. I responded in the affirmative. 

“I’m still taking stock of this office as you probably can see,” he began. “Much as I want to talk to you, I wouldn’t want to respond to some of your questions with a “no comment” reply.” Continuing, Alli said: “What you can do for me is to exercise some patience. There will be a lot to talk about the army just as there must be a lot to talk about *The Times!* Just wish me well as I lead and rebuild the army but rest assured I will talk to you.” Alli the rare breed, cerebral combatant tactically wriggled out of the dragnet of my proposed inquiries. He did speak about sundry issues concerning his background and career though. Arising from that encounter, my article was titled “Mohammed Chris Alli: Portrait of a Soldier-Patriot” and published in the *Daily Times* of Saturday February 5, 1994. 

Months after that encounter and barely one year in office, Alli was removed by Abacha and replaced by Alwali Jauji Kazir, another army General in August 1994. He was reported to have regularly nudged Abacha on the imperative for the revalidation of the “June 12, 1993” election which was clearly won by MKO Abiola. He was said to have subtly, albeit stridently pushed for the military to return to the barracks to enable democracy thrive. The totalitarian, feared and dreaded Abacha had aided the ascent of some of his military predecessors to political limelight and long coveted the highest office in the land himself. He was indeed nicknamed the *Khalifa,* (meaning the successor) on the sidelines of the Babangida regime. He wouldn’t brook any suggestion to terminate his rulership under whatever description. Alli was summarily retired on the same day with Allison Amaechina Madueke, a Rear Admiral and Chief of Naval Staff, (CNS), who was also progressively-inclined like MC Alli. 

After his compulsory retirement, Alli tried his hands on entrepreneurship. He established a woven sacks factory and a gas-filling plant side-by-side,  in Lokoja the capital of his state of origin, Kogi State. I remember he named the latter *Mohca Gas Ltd,* a play on letters from his names. He was thus a regular caller at the historic confluence of the Niger and Benue rivers, where he had a home. Coincidentally, I had moved over to Lokoja from Lagos on a second spell, as an appointee of the sitting military administrator this time around. Paul Uzoanya Ndimele Omeruo an army Colonel, appointed me his Chief Press Secretary and Director of Press Affairs, beginning from May 1995. With Alli’s more frequent visits to Lokoja to tend his teething investments, we continued to see each other more frequently. I was assured a few chilled drinks whenever I stopped by to say “hello.” He famously regaled me with stories of his penchant for radical dissent against the establishment even as a young secondary school student. He would typically tell me: “… What the school authorities tried to do on that occasion ran counter to my ideals and principles. I rebelled.” 

Nigeria’s former military Head of State and democratically elected President, Olusegun Obasanjo, tapped Alli in 2004 to serve as Administrator in the perennially acrimonious Plateau State, where Alli was once military Governor. Under the leadership of the democratically elected Governor of the state, Joshua Dariye, sectarian violence had reportedly claimed over 50,000 lives. This compelled Obasanjo to declare emergency rule, after suspending the Governor and the State Assembly. Within Alli’s six month service which ended in November 2004, he developed the “Plateau Peace Programme” in collaboration with religious, ethnic and community leadership. He also offered amnesty and fiscal rewards to holders of weapons who turned them in. Alli’s measures considerably helped in calming down the situation in the state.

Mohammed Christopher Alli was born on Christmas day in 1944 in Kotonkarfe, headquarters of present day Kotonkarfe local government area in Kogi State to Mallam Alli Adakwo Alaburah and Mama Rebecca Ojumori  Nanashe Abayomi. He attended Trinity High School, Oguta, Imo State, and the Metropolitan College, Onitsha, Anambra State. He actually had a tinge of *Igbo* accent, a language he spoke fluently. He demonstrated early intellectual disposition, posting a well-earned Division One performance in the very competitive West African School Certificate Examination, (WASCE), in 1962. 

He had his earliest military education at Fhiegehorst Isaufboren, West Germany between 1966 and 1967, and the Nigerian Defence Academy, (NDA) in 1967, where Abdulsalami Abubakar who later became Nigeria’s Head of State was his course mate. Alli attended the “Platoon Commander’s” course in Westminster in the United Kingdom in 1971, and the “Unit Commander’s” training in Pakistan in 1975. He was at the Command and Staff College, Jaji, Kaduna State, a tri-service military training institution, in 1978 and the National Defence College, (NDC), India in 1990. He obtained a masters from the University of Allahabad, Pakistan, to understanding his deep-seated inclination towards scholarship. 

Alli began his working career as a laboratory assistant with “Kirkpatrick and Partners” in Kaduna, after a failed attempt to secure a job at Eastern Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation in Enugu. He also served as “archive assistant” in the Kaduna-based National Archives. His attempt to enlist in the police was opposed by his father, even as he secured an appointment as a non-commissioned officer in the fledgling Nigerian Airforce. Fortune smiled on Alli in 1967 when the civil war began. He applied for a short service commission in the army and was admitted. Thus began his odyssey in the Nigerian Army. He authored a very courageous and profound book of over 400 pages titled *The Federal Republic of Nigerian Army: The Seige of a Nation,* published in 2001. He was also member of the Editorial Board of the reputable *The Guardian* tabloid which flaunts itself as the “flagship of Nigerian newspaper journalism.” 

Years after he hedged from obliging me an interview, Alli became an interviewer’s delight. He was famous for his engaging frankness, broad perspectives and refreshing profundity on a wide canvas of issues. He sadly passed at a military hospital in Lagos in the morning of Sunday November 19, 2023, a little over a month to his 79th birthday. Encomiums have continued to pour from across the world. The Nigerian Army has declared a three-day mourning period in his honour during which all flags in all Nigerian Army formations are to fly at half-mast. Alli’s uncommon insights in the variform military, security, intelligence and administrative sectors, will be sorely missed. So will be his unwavering patriotism, untiring nationalism and undying commitment to the growth and progress of Nigeria, a country he was willing to die for.

*Tunde Olusunle, PhD, poet, journalist, scholar and author is a Fellow of the Association of Nigerian Authors, (FANA)*

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