Long rumoured to be the national security adviser-designate, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was finally appointed as special adviser on security by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The nomenclature of Ribadu’s position is however generating some discussions in Nigeria’s social media space.
Is the special adviser on security the same thing as special adviser?
The Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA)
The national security adviser is responsible for counselling the president on issues of national security. The National Security Act created 3 security agencies (DIA, NIA, and the SSS). The Act empowered the president to appoint a coordinator on national security (CoNS) who “shall be a principal staff officer in the office of the president and commander-in-chief,” according to section 4(2) of the Act.
Section 4(3) went further to define the role of the CoNS to include: advising the president on matters concerning intelligence activities of our intelligence agencies, making recommendation to the president on the activities of the create agencies, evaluating intelligence reports and properly disseminating such reports within the government, determining the number of staff to be employed by the created agencies, etc.
It is clear that the Act didn’t explicitly create the office of the national security adviser (ONSA), but created instead the role of the coordinator of national security. Later, Section 1 of the National Security Agencies Decree (Instrument No NSA 1) transferred the functions of the CoNS to the NSA.
Special Adviser on Security
On the other hand, the special adviser on security is simply an adviser on security who could advise the president on security matters and could be tasked to perform any related functions, but could not perform the functions of the coordinator of national security since such functions can only be performed by the NSA.
Therefore, special adviser on security is not the same thing as national security adviser, as the former cannot perform the functions of the latter.
This is similar to the case of special adviser economic affairs and the office of the chief economic adviser. They are two different roles.