A major bone of contention is the debate on whether the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) is one essentially reserved for those with a military background and persons who are preferable in the rank of a General in the countrys armed forces, whether still serving or retired.
While most of the former and current holders of the position of NSA have been retired Army officers, national security issues are beyond the exclusive ken of the military, whose main task and mandate is defence of the territorial integrity of the state and its interests against external armed threats or aggression.
In response to the challenges of terrorism, the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011, as amended in 2013, was signed into law by President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
The Act designates the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) as the coordinating body for all the security and enforcement agencies of the government.
This Act also gives the ONSA the mandates to support and ensure the formulation and implementation of a comprehensive Counter Terrorism Strategy and build capacity for the effective discharge of the functions of relevant security, intelligence, law enforcement and military services.
On March 18, 2014, the then National Security Adviser, Colonel Sambo Dasuki (rtd) rolledout Nigerias soft approach to countering terrorism through the National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST), developed through the concert and support of international partners, experienced academics and select nonstate actors.
The NACTEST, according to Dasuki who was its facilitator and enabler, sought to act proactively by preventing violent attacks before they happened, while equally anticipating and neutralising the factors that lead people to becoming terrorists in the first place.
The countering violent extremism (CVE) strategy comprises a vertical programme involving the three tiers of government from the federal to the state and then local alongside a horizontal programme that engages with the civil society, academics, and traditional, religious and community leaders, towards stemming the tide of radicalism.
The soft approach to countering terrorism, as identified by the Dasukiled ONSA, provided Nigeria with a framework outlining the roles and responsibilities of every segment of the society with regard to job creation, poverty alleviation and economic development.
The ONSA encompasses major professional capabilities, including those of the military, law enforcement, intelligence services, international relations, financial controls, in addition to bilateral and multilateral engagements.
The appointee is expected to be extremely knowledgeable to provide spoton advisories, while effectively coordinating security matters of state, diplomatic efforts, being in tune with economic policy, and the intelligence services, towards a peaceful and prosperous country that is fully engaged in a holistic sense of national security.
While the offices of the Chief of Defence Staff and Minister of Defence are already reserved for serving and retired military officers respectively, there is nothing wrong if any of the personalities traditionally appointed into the foregoing positions are equally considered for the ONSA.
President Ahmed Tinubu should not only reflect the federal character principle when appointing individuals to sensitive posts like that of the NSA, but should also saliently consider the pedigree, courage, accomplishments, sincerity, and dispositions of the person to be so appointed.