BOOK REVIEW: The DSS Model to National Security Challenges
By Abdulsalam Mahmud
Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Services, DSS, is one intelligence agency that seems to be in the news, most frequently. However, the reasons why the agency gets media attention are diverse. It also depends on public perception.
As a defence correspondent and reporter covering the DSS, in the last four years, I have a lot to say about the intelligence outfit, its mandates and its style of operation. Nevertheless, I cannot boldly assert that I am an authority on matters, pertaining to the secret police.
In fact, I only discovered that I know only little about the agency, just like many other Nigerians, after I got hold of “Managing Nigeria’s National Security Challenges: The DSS-Bichi Model”. It is the latest book to be published by the DSS. Dr. Peter Afunanya, the spokesperson of the intelligence agency, edited the publication.
It is not up to a week now since I was given the book by Dr. Afunanya, through my publisher and Editor-in-Chief of PRNigeria and Economic Confidential, Mallam Yushau Shuaib. But there is nothing I have not read or even re-read (some chapters) in the autographed copy of, “Managing Nigeria’s National Security Challenges: The DSS-Bichi Model”.
I was greeted by a short, but enervating note which reads: “To Mahmud Abdulsalam, with regards,” when I began reading the thought-provoking and mind-stimulating book. The short note was the autograph Afunanya wrote on the copy of the latest DSS book, which he asked Mal. Shuaib to give me.
The 310-page book has a beautiful cover with the DSS logo placed on the top right side of the book. In the middle of the book’s cover is the Nigerian map, sectioned into three parts, with the green-white-green colours. And in the middle of the Nigerian map is a picture of the dashing Alh. Yusuf Magaji Bichi, the incumbent Director General of the agency.
Magaji Bichi, who hails from Bichi Local Government Area of Kano State, has made a steady and enviable career in the SSS, where he rose to the highest rank and won all the accolades for his meritorious services. In recognition of his outstanding contributions to national security management, he was conferred with the Highest National Honour Award of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR) by former President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2022.
The book, whose foreword was written by Mr. Mathew Seiyefa, a former Director General of the DSS, comprises 33 article chapters, with a dedication, acknowledgment, foreword, DGSS’ goodwill message, introduction and postscript – DGSS activities in pictures.
Managing Nigeria’s National Security Challenges: The DSS-Bichi Model is one book that elaborately discussed how the DSS is helping to safeguard national security, in concert with other security and law enforcement agencies. It represents a gargantuan exploration of Nigeria’s security ecosystem, while also offering fresh perspectives on the ways the DSS, led by Bichi, are addressing threats to national security.
The book has six sections, namely: Background Information on YM Bichi, CFR, fwc; Issues and Perspectives on National Security and Intelligence Management; and Department of State Services and National Security Management.
The remaining sections are: Technical Capacity Development; Staff Welfare; and lastly, Training and Public Enlightenment Initiatives. Among the chapters of the book include: Leadership and Mentorship in the Department of State Services (DSS): My Experience with YM Bichi; The Future of Department of State Services (DSS) and How YM Bichi Will Be Remembered; Appraisals of National Security Management Models – The Nigerian Approach; Contemporary Security Challenges in Nigeria: Issues, Perspectives and Way Forward; Intelligence Analysis and Coordination as Basis for National Security Management: The Bichi Approach; and then, Bichi and National Security Management: An Assessment.
There are also: Strategic Communication (Stratcom) Models for National Security Management; Relevance of Open Source in Intelligence Production: Issues, Challenges and Prospects; Rights-Based National Security Management Models: The DSS-Bichi Scorecard; Challenges of Border Security Management in Nigeria: The Department of State Services (DSS) Perspective; Department of State Services and Challenges of Managing National Security; Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in Nigeria: Critical Assessment of Department of State Services Models Under YM Bichi; Intelligence and Election Security: The Role of Department of State Services (DSS) in Ensuring Credible and Transparent Election in Nigeria; Economic Intelligence and National Security Management: Role of the Department of State Services (DSS); and Department of State Services’ Efforts in Managing Security Challenges in Northern Nigeria.
Among others, we also have: Transformational Role of the Department of State Services (DSS) in COVID-19 Response in Nigeria; Joint Security Efforts in National Security Management: The Department of State Services (DSS) Approach; Technical Capacity Development and National Security Management: The Department of State Services (DSS) Example; Trends and Patterns in the Cyberspace and the Role of Department of State Services (DSS) Implementation of the National Cyber Security Policy; New Frontiers in National Security Management: X-raying the Relevance of Department of State Services (DSS) Command Operation Centre as Counter Threat Platform; Enhanced Staff Welfare as a Model in National Security Management: Lessons from the Department of State Services (DSS); Tapping from the Critical Mass of Retired Personnel for National Security Management: Analysis of Pace-Setting Initiatives of YM Bichi; Optimizing Discipline for National Security Management: Benefits, Challenges and Prospects; Training and Capacity Building Efforts of the Department of State Services (DSS) Under YM Bichi as DGSS; Importance of Specialized Training in National Security Management: The National Institute of Security Studies (NISS) Model; Stakeholder Management for Effective Security Operation: The Department of State Services (DSS) Approach); and Role of Civil Society in National Security Management.
The book is a follow-up to the previous publication, For the Record: A Compendium of YM Bichi’s Legacy at the DSS. The maiden publication highlighted foundational initiatives conceptualized by the DSS helmsman, within his first four years (2018-2022) of stewardship.
Seiyefa, in his foreword, noted that the compilation of “Managing Nigeria’s National Security Challenges” covers the entire spectrum of DSS activities, looking through the list of those who contributed the book’s articles and areas of contribution. The immediate-past DGSS however, did not mince words in highlighting some challenges hindering the effective discharge of some DSS’ mandates.
He said: “The DGSS, Yusuf Magaji Bichi’s interventions span the full gamut of operations, administration, intelligence, technical, training, medical, housing, and intellectual resources acquisition, among others. The leitmotif underpinning the entirety of his interventions is the innate desire to enhance capabilities and hence effectiveness of Service exertions”.
Seiyefa added: “In the main, Bichi’s areas of intervention are in the physical, tangible sphere, e.g. infrastructure, logistics, etc. It is my assessment that in the immediate and near terms, the invisible and intangible areas may well constitute the key headwinds vis-a-viz the effective execution of the Service’s mandate”.
According to him, the imperative of refocusing the psyche of personnel on the Service’s core mandate of intelligence collection cannot be over-emphasized.
Mr. Seiyefa emphasized that the effectiveness of the enforcement and policy support roles of the DSS are all dependent on the quality of intelligence at its disposal.
“The progressive failure to embrace the covert requirements of intelligence and security work has undermined the effectiveness of personnel and hence the Service.
“… No matter the depth and breadth of Bichi’s efforts in diverse areas of Service life, every aspect highlighted by the contributions is a work in progress.
“Consequently, it is my fervent hope that successive leaders in the given areas will study the contributions with a view to understanding the work done so far and making the necessary adaptations towards meeting the emergent challenges.
“As we prepare for a future of new threats and learn about them, we undoubtedly, need to know about what has been done in the past and is been done now about the extant threat profile. This is the essence of this compilation,” he wrote.
As for Bichi, effective cooperation should be the model for security management. “With the dynamism of threats, no single agency can handle it alone. All hands must be on deck. Interagency synergy must, at all times, be given priority,” the DGSS said, in his goodwill message, published inside the book.
He assured that, “Appreciative of the daunting task ahead, the Service will adop a combination of proactive strategies, including aggressive intelligence gathering, effective pre-emptive threat detection and containment, as well as result-oriented investigation and law enforcement. To this end rules of engagement have been made available in order to guide the conduct of personnel in all circumstances. Accordingly, SDSes and Heads of Service Formations must dutifully ensure strict adherence to the contents of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)”.
Bichi reaffirmed his continuous commitment to repositioning the Service for enhanced productivity as well as building a highly-disciplined, devoted and patriotic personnel, by prioritizing their welfare and well-being, through capacity development, training and retraining.
While explaining the rationale for the book, Afunanya, said that being the head of an intelligence agency charged with the responsibility of protecting and preserving the internal security of Nigeria, Bichi’s profound understanding of threat dynamism through strategic thinking and methodical pursuit effective counter threat measures have fortified the country’s national security architecture.
He said: “Under his guidance, the DSS has witnessed incremental growth, reputational re-engineering as well as sustained intensified efforts to combat terrorism, address internal conflicts and prevent and counter violent extremism, including other emerging challenges. Notably, he has remained vigilant, adaptive and proactive in managing the volatile threat environment”.
One fact is indubitable, “Managing Nigeria’s National Security Challenges,” aims to stimulate critical thinking, while fostering innovative approaches and contributing to the ongoing discourse surrounding national security in Africa’s most populous nation. Indeed, policymakers, security practitioners, researchers and students interested in understanding and addressing Nigeria’s national security challenges and ways of containing them, will find the book topical.
With “Managing Nigeria’s National Security Challenges”, I have learnt a lot on how the DSS is discharging its statutory mandate of gathering, analysing and interpreting actionable intelligence, with a view to ensuring that national security is not breached, in our dear country. It is only a matter of time before teeming Nigerians also will, by the time they are able to lay their hands on the book which Peter Afunanya, PhD, brilliantly edited.
I hope the quintessential DSS spokesperson is listening!