Yusuf Bichi: Between the Spymaster and a Celebrity

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By Yushau A. Shuaib

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I was disturbed watching videos of a young man dressed in designer outfits, adorned with expensive wristwatches, wearing exotic shoes, displaying bags of costly perfumes, and being chauffeured around in flashy vehicles. His entourage includes a motley crew of well-armed bodyguards bearing sophisticated weapons, attendants, allies, and hangers-on, whether striding with him in processions or moving in long vehicular convoys. To top it off, he even took to the skies in private jets.

What is evident is the young chap’s clear cultivation of celebrity culture, steeped in material flamboyance, whether in balling with music superstars like Davido, driving about in supercars and hosting associates to flamboyant gourmet dinners which are all deliberately videoed for showboating on his social media platforms, for maximum publicity.

What I found deeply disturbing was that this young man, who goes by the name Abba Yusuf Bichi, is a Nigerian. Yet, with his over two million followers on social media, he remains largely unknown among the hardworking Nigerian businessmen and multimillionaires who could afford such a life of extravagant opulence.

Surprisingly, he shares a name in a manner that appears too close for comfort with a humble, modest, and result-oriented spymaster — Yusuf Magaji Bichi, the Director General of the Department of State Security Service (DSS). Could they hail from the same fast-developing Bichi Emirate Council of Kano State? I haven’t bothered to verify, as it ordinarily would seem absurd to associate the pompous and flashy young man with the accomplished spymaster.

Spymasters play a pivotal role in intelligence and covert operations worldwide. They lead and manage sleuth networks while overseeing critical tasks related to national security, counterterrorism efforts, and other clandestine endeavours on behalf of the state.

Due to the delicate nature of their veiled assignments, spymasters function behind the scenes. They ensure that their family members, spouses, children, and even parents remain shielded from public scrutiny to avoid unnecessary exposure.

The spymaster we know well, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, boasts extensive intelligence work experience. He has performed in various operational roles before assuming leadership positions within the Department of State Services as its Director-General.

Many within the security and intelligence services can attest to Bichi’s professional integrity. For instance, Chief Peter C. Nwaoduah, one of the longest-serving directors-general of the DSS (1992-1999), vouched for his competence and dedication.

In a foreword to a book on the legacy of Yusuf Bichi, Nwaoduah wrote: “The personality in whose honour this collection was put together is not used to being celebrated. If anything, he would be embarrassed, if not blushing! Bichi is known to be taciturn, even indifferent and shy to take credit for the numerous services rendered to the Nation.

“Bichi is used to everyday life packed with action—fast-paced and non-stop—in the protection of his fatherland! He is addicted to his job. He always has been, and this explains why, from the beginning, he chose a life of being an operative of what Nigerians call ‘The Secret Service’ or ‘The Secret Police.’

“He had a successful first outing and, after that, retired! But again, service to the Fatherland came beckoning. It was not what he prepared himself to do again. He needed a quiet life after retirement. However, imbued with patriotism, he was back to work!”

Similarly, the shortest-serving DG of the DSS (August to September 2018), Mathew B. Seyefa, narrated their relationship, which spanned some 40 years. As he recounted, they joined the service on the same day, and their first point of convergence was their mutual attraction for Mallam Aminu Kano’s enduring legacy—an epitome of modesty, populism, and aversion to primitive material acquisition.

Seyefa emphasised, “People change when power is entrusted to them, but Bichi, as DGSS, has remained his simple, unassuming, warm, and unflappable self.”

Therefore, it is not surprising that on several occasions, the DSS, under Bichi, has issued warnings to Nigerians regarding the dangers of flaunting wealth in public. In one such advisory, the service stated that ostentatious displays of affluence pose a significant security risk and attract the attention of criminal elements, including kidnappers and bandits.

Since flaunting wealth endangers not only the individual but also the family and the broader community, the Secret Service advises citizens to adopt moderate lifestyles and avoid unnecessary show-offs.

One may wonder about the real background of the young celebrity, Abba Yusuf Bichi. And while his means of livelihood remain shrouded in mystery, he maintains predictable routines. He boasts an ostentatious attitude akin to “Yahoo Yahoo” boys, who expose themselves easily to security scrutiny and public irritation, often leading them to hire legions of security agents for protection as they embark on their various acts of ridiculous and conspicuous material exhibitions and consumption.

While public officers and businesspeople are urged to lead modest lives appropriate to their positions and income, ostentatious displays of questionable affluence should be discouraged due to their negative impacts on society. The seeming glitter of these highly impressionable displays can lure vulnerable youth down perilous paths, including the yield to fraudulent activities, prostitution, and even money rituals.

However, it is essential to differentiate between these so-called celebrities and genuinely accomplished and wealthy individuals. True wealth often resides in modesty and humble lifestyles, even amidst enormous financial success. The overnight flaunting of opulence by money-miss-road celebrities serves as a bad influence, inadvertently signalling to impressionable youth that material wealth is attainable through any means, including illicit ways. Moreover, such displays attract the attention of violent criminals—kidnappers, armed robbers, and bandits—worsening crime rates in society.

Nigerian youth must be encouraged to acquire digital literacy and financial education. Wise investments can secure their future without resorting to criminal activities. Additionally, safeguarding personal information in today’s digital age is crucial. Even cybercriminals exploit such data for extortion and attacks. Citizens should remain vigilant and take measures to protect themselves and society.

Meanwhile, to stem the tide of reckless wealth flaunting, responses like those recently taken against naira abusers should be activated. Relevant law enforcement bodies, including anti-corruption and revenue agencies, should scour social media accounts to find many who might be engaged in opulent displays, verify their sources of income and tax compliance, etc., and ascertain their social rectitude. Prosecution should follow where necessary.

It is fascinating how two individuals sharing the name Yusuf Bichi can lead vastly different lives — one in the spotlight of luxury and the other a conservative dwelling in the shadows of covert operations.
By the way, who is the young and over-protected celebrity?

Yushau A. Shuaib is the author of “An Encounter with the Spymaster.” www.YAShuaib.com, yashuaib@yahoo.com


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