Sambo Dasuki, Yushau Shuaib and defense of human rights
By Abdullahi Yunusa ProfWills

Let me tell you a few things about Alhaji Yushau Shuaib, the multiple-award winning PR expert, strategic Communications specialist and crisis communications czar. He’s the brain and the unseen face behind the popular, credible and very ubiquitous information portal, PR Nigeria which feeds Nigerians and the world with breaking news/stories and events as they unfold.

Citizen Yushau was that courageous public servant who called out former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala over lopsidedness in the appointment of heads of agencies under her supervision. His maltreatment once generated heated arguments at a FEC meeting during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan when ministers were sharply divided on what should be done to Yushau for criticising a ‘Super Minister’.

It was the same citizen Yushau who later came to the rescue of Nigeria at a time that the Boko Haram insurgency was at its very peak with bomb explosions going off here and there. At the time, the insurgents were running a very successful media campaign before Yushau came on board. Boko Haram, through its agents in both local and international media grabbed news headlines on a daily basis. Things began to change for good when he began to coordinate media strategies to counter Boko Haram’s media propaganda and skewed narratives on insurgency in the north east.

With no support from anyone one or security establishments, he came up with brilliant counter insurgency media strategies and measures, including the formation of the Forum of Spokespersons of Security and Response Agencies (FOSSRA) by the Office of the National Security Adviser as recommended by Yushau. Yushau deployed both human and material resources to ensure that the tissue of lies and absolute falsehoods that Boko Haram was peddling around were halted once and for all with superior facts and figures.

He was deliberate and quite strategic in his deployment of media contents and PR offensives to wage war against Abubakar Shekau and his fellow criminals. FOSSRA became the very power house and information hub where Spokespersons of Security and Response Agencies met to jaw-jaw, share intelligence and hold regular review sessions to guarantee success in the counter insurgency operations. Courtesy of Yushau, for the first time, PROs of Security and Response Agencies sat under one roof to discuss and share intelligence on counter insurgency operations.

FOSSRA, to a very large extent degraded the inter-agency rivalry and bad blood among security agencies. With mutual suspicions, superiority complex and institutional rivalry put to rest, security institutions realized the importance of effective synergy in tackling criminality and violent extremism. Initially, Yushau shouldered the responsibility of providing venue and other logistics for FOSSRA’s meetings.

With the successes recorded by the Nigerian military in the north east gaining traction in the media, many, including the then National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki, curiously sought to know who and what was responsible for the positive and balanced media campaign. FOSSRA members took it upon themselves to brief the NSA about the invaluable contributions of citizen Yushau in the ongoing insurgency campaign.

Expectedly, Col. Dasuki was pleased with his patriotic disposition and solicited for his continued support and cooperation. Yushau turned down Col. Dasuki’s request to join them as an insider in the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), but pledged his assistance and support to the office and Nigeria.

Given the circumstances at that time, both Dasuki and Yushau did their best in the war against insurgency. We know those who genuinely stood with Nigeria in the heat of the Boko Haram insurgency in the north east. We equally know those who frustrated efforts geared towards ending the war. But in the fullness of time, we shall know the heroes and villains of the insurgency war.

Then came the period of Col. Sambo Dasuki’s travails. Expectedly, the very moment he was arrested in 2015, even some of his close aides and friends deserted him. Some fled out of the country, thereby leaving Col. Dasuki to his fate. But one man never left him. That man is Yushau Shuaib.

At personal risk and discomfort, Yushau stood firmly by Dasuki like the rock of gilbrater. He began a one-man media advocacy that kept the issue and Dasuki in the spotlight in the last four and a half years. Good friends never abandon their friends in their hour of needs. Yushau wrote countless press statements, held press conferences and even wrote a book about Col. Sambo Dasuki. He did all these for a man he has no ancestral link with. This is sheer humanity.

Though it was Col. Sambo Dasuki who spent the last four and a half years in the custody of the Department of State Service, but citizen Yushau bore the burden of drawing local and international attention to Col. Dasuki’s plight. Yushau made it a point of duty to always be in court to witness proceedings each time Dasuki was brought to court. He was consistent. He was determined and ready to go all the way in defense of Col. Dasuki. Thank God, his advocacy paid off.

Unlike others, Yushau stood by the Sokoto Prince throughout the period he was incarcerated. He was maligned, insulted and denied certain privileges for refusing to dump Col. Dasuki. It was no surprise that Yushau was the first person to see Col. Sambo Dasuki minutes after he was released from the DSS custody. Indeed, Yushau has demonstrated rare courage, tenacity and compassion in defense of a fellow human being. This is worthy of emulation.

Yunusa Abdullahi
Former Spokesperson Office of the National Security Adviser,
ONSA, Abuja
[email protected]