(BOOK RE­VIEW) An En­counter with the Spy­mas­ter

Sunday Trust - - ARTS & IDEAS - By On­imisi Alao

Yushau Shuaib has al­ways had it easy get­ting jobs, some­times in unpredictable places. He hails from the far north, but he be­came a spokesman of a govern­ment south of the coun­try, in Delta State, in the early years of his em­ploy­ment his­tory.

He re­lates that ex­pe­ri­ence at the start of ‘I Cease to be a civil Ser­vant,’ chap­ter three of his book, ‘An En­counter with the Spy­mas­ter,’ where he writes that in Oc­to­ber 1993 when he re­ceived the Best Writer and Re­searcher Award while serv­ing as a mem­ber of the Na­tional Youth Ser­vice Corps (NYSC), the Delta State gov­er­nor at the time, Oloro­gun Felix Ibru (late), of­fered him au­to­matic em­ploy­ment in the Govern­ment House as a pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer.

Re­call­ing his next au­to­matic em­ploy­ment which fol­lowed quickly, he writes of how he was named a re­cip­i­ent of the NYSC Na­tional Hon­our by the Fed­eral Govern­ment and how that hon­our came with em­ploy­ment in the Fed­eral Civil Ser­vice.

“Since then I have found my­self work­ing in var­i­ous or­gan­i­sa­tions as ei­ther press sec­re­tary or head of pub­lic re­la­tions as I con­tin­ued to write of­fi­cial press re­leases and per­sonal opinion ar­ti­cles,” he writes, list­ing the govern­ment of­fices where he worked as the Fed­eral Min­istries of In­for­ma­tion, Fi­nance and Health as well as the Na­tional Assem­bly, Rev­enue Mo­bil­i­sa­tion Al­lo­ca­tion and Fis­cal Com­mis­sion (RMAFC), Na­tional Press Cen­tre and fi­nally the Na­tional Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (NEMA) which he ex­ited in 2013 be­cause he dared to write an opinion that Min­is­ter of Fi­nance at the time, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, took ex­cep­tion to.

Yushau Shuaibu’s book, which he pre­sented to the pub­lic re­cently, is as much about a num­ber of other is­sues as it is about him­self. It is mostly a col­lec­tion of his ar­ti­cles, a good deal of which were orig­i­nally pub­lished in the years of the fight against Boko Haram un­der Pres­i­dent Good­luck Jonathan and there­after. Most of the ar­ti­cles around this time, es­pe­cially af­ter he be­came in­volved in in­for­ma­tion man­age­ment of the anti-Boko Haram war in his post-re­tire­ment years un­der the Fo­rum of Spokesper­sons of Se­cu­rity and Re­sponse Agen­cies (FOSSRA) that the Muham­madu Buhari govern­ment in­her­ited, are re­sponses to cri­tiques of the anti-in­sur­gency fight un­der Jonathan with Jonathan him­self and his na­tional se­cu­rity ad­viser (NSA) Sambo Da­suki as di­rect tar­gets.

The book in­deed comes with mul­ti­ple themes, ex­pressed in 56 chap­ters in nine sec­tions spread over 308 pages.

In Chap­ter 4, ‘Sambo Da­suki on Se­cu­rity Me­dia Re­la­tions,’ the au­thor pic­tures Da­suki, the NSA boss at the time the fea­ture was orig­i­nally pub­lished, on March 10, 2014, as a self­less prince who once re­signed his ap­point­ment as the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the Nige­ria Se­cu­rity, Print­ing and Mint­ing Com­pany (NSPMC) be­cause he dis­agreed with the pres­i­dent at the time, Oluse­gun Obasanjo, over pri­va­ti­za­tion.

He also por­trays Da­suki as a self-ef­fac­ing NSA who made no at­tempt to in­flu­ence me­dia re­ports on him. “All his life, Da­suki has never been am­bi­tious and would rather take a bow than fight dirty. He doesn’t be­lieve in cheap public­ity. He would rather ex­pand re­sources in fa­cil­i­tat­ing pos­i­tive pub­lic per­cep­tion on other se­cu­rity arms ex­pected to be ac­tive and vis­i­ble on the field,” he writes, hint­ing at the NSA of­fice’s in­au­gu­ra­tion of FOSSRA in­tended prin­ci­pally to en­cour­age se­cu­rity spokesper­sons to be proac­tive and timely in pro­vid­ing up­dates on se­cu­rity sit­u­a­tions.

In Chap­ter 5, Sambo Da­suki: An En­counter with the Spy­mas­ter, the chap­ter by which the book is named, Yushau Shuaib writes of how Sambo Da­suki be­came one of a few top govern­ment func­tionar­ies who stood by him af­ter his job with the Fed­eral Govern­ment was ter­mi­nated by get­ting him into the me­dia re­la­tion func­tions of the an­ti­in­sur­gency war in a pri­vate ca­pac­ity af­ter he re­jected sug­ges­tion of a re­turn to the civil ser­vice.

The sixth chap­ter of the book is an Open Let­ter to Pres­i­den­tial Spokesper­son, Femi Adesina, in which he sheds fur­ther light on his role in im­age mak­ing for the se­cu­rity forces, by which he had the re­spon­si­bil­ity of con­sult­ing for FOSSRA.

In the let­ter, which was orig­i­nally pub­lished on De­cem­ber 31, 2015, he writes to Adesina on how, as pres­i­dent of the Nige­ria Guild of Ed­i­tors Adesina was ad­e­quately in­formed of the suc­cess sto­ries of Good­luck Jonathan ad­min­is­tra­tion’s war on ter­ror, and ex­presses sur­prise how Adesina be­came ‘a changed per­son’ when he was made pres­i­den­tial spokesman (ef­fec­tive Au­gust 31, 2015) and as the trial of Sambo Da­suki height­ened, he started to dis­miss Da­suki’s achieve­ments.

The let­ter to Adesina is one of a num­ber of chap­ters of Yushau Shuaib’s book in which he seeks to dis­miss al­le­ga­tions that the Jonathan ad­min­is­tra­tion did not buy weapons for the armed forces against the Boko Haram in­sur­gents and that con­se­quently the Boko Haram fight­ers had a field day ev­ery­where.

He tells Adesina that On Au­gust 6, 2015, Da­suki named and pro­vided pic­tures of so­phis­ti­cated weapons bought for the mil­i­tary, and that in his of­fi­cial re­sponse to Adesina’s state­ment against him on Novem­ber 18, 2015, Da­suki men­tioned of­fi­cial ac­knowl­edge­ments of de­liv­ery of some of the equip­ment by the se­cu­rity chiefs. He adds that con­trary to in­sin­u­a­tions, the mil­i­tary did save many towns from the claws of the in­sur­gents: “In the twi­light of Jonathan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion, more than 22 towns in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states were re­cov­ered and con­firmed with video and pic­to­rial ev­i­dences through mil­i­tary press re­leases.”

The book, ‘An En­counter with the Spy­mas­ter’, a col­lec­tion of ar­ti­cles orig­i­nally pub­lished in print and on­line news­pa­pers be­tween 2013 and 2017, cov­ers a wide ar­ray of sub­jects that in­cludes the dy­nam­ics of the civil ser­vice, so­cioe­co­nomic is­sues, na­tional se­cu­rity im­per­a­tives with the Boko Haram in­sur­gency as the fo­cus, in­di­vid­u­als who have fea­tured promi­nently along the way, and of course is­sues in me­dia and pub­lic re­la­tions.

Yushua A. Shuaib, a mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion grad­u­ate and holder of a Mas­ter’s de­gree in Pub­lic Re­la­tions, is an ac­com­plished writer and pub­lic re­la­tions prac­ti­tioner whose book will help read­ers and re­searchers in­ter­ested in es­pe­cially is­sues around the fight against Boko Haram in the last four years.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Nigeria

© PressReader. All rights reserved.