General Patrick Owoeye Azazi has been dropped as National Security Adviser, a tweet from presidential spokesman, Reuben Abati announced Friday evening,in what appears to be a radical shake up of the national security corridor which also involved the removal of the minister of defence, Mr. Bello Haliru Mohammed.
Mr. Azazi, a one-time Chief of Army Staff, and later Chief of Defence Staff, is believed to have run one of the most scandalous national security programmes in recent memories characterized by the failing war against terror. The Azazi legacy also comes against the background of expanding security budget numbers that hardly addressed the core problems of national security like the deadly religious and ethno-national conflicts as well as unprecedented incidence of oil theft. For these reasons, Mr. Azazi has been loudly criticized by many Nigerians, including Christian clerics, and a broad national consensus, as an inept security leader in the wake of severe existential crisis facing the nation, particularly the unending bomb attacks by the violent Islamist sect, Boko Haram.
To replace Mr. Azazi, according to the president’s chief spokesman, Mr. Abati, is Mr. Sambo Dasuki, a retired armoured colonel and one-time ADC of General Ibrahim Babagida. Mr. Dasuki has a BA in International Relations from the American Universities, Washington DC, and a MA in Security Policy Studies from the George Washington University. He had his military training in several institutions in Nigeria and abroad including the Nigerian Army School of Artillery, Oklahoma, U.S Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth Kensas.
He was also a former Managing Director of the Nigerian Security Printing & Minting Company Limited.
Mr. Dasuki, a Sokoto prince, was retired from the army by the Abacha regime in a paranoid move to drain the military of what was then perceived as the Babangida influence.
A presidency source said Mr. Mohammed was removed as defence minister to allow for ethnic balancing.
“The presidency will definitely be accused of maginalising a part of the country if the NSA and and defence minister are from the North,” the source, who requested not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter, said. “The next defence minister will definitely not be from the North.”
Our source said the appointment of a core northerner as NSA was done to pacify the north, and in the believe that the Boko Haram insurgents would consider Mr. Dasuki as one of their own and perhaps sheath their swords.
President Goodluck Jonathan, just back from a trip to Brazil, made the changes against the background of mounting pressure that if he wanted traction for his 2015 presidential ambition, he needed to expand his presidency and national security environment to reflect true diversity from what appears to be an ethno-nationally narrow outlook.