The Fate of Azazi By Aliyu U. Tilde

The indictment of the ruling party in Nigeria (PDP) by the National Security Adviser (NSA), General Andrew O. Azazi, was the misfortune President Jonathan least expected when he woke up from his bed last Friday, 27 April 2012.

The statement must be causing him enormous pain. It has placed him in a predicament, with the party on one hand requesting for the head of Azazi and his kinsmen on the other hand asking for his pardon. To understand the predicament of the president, we need to recast how the two once stood together as comrades in their lifelong ambition of emancipating the Niger Delta.
A Nigeria Army Intelligence Corps (NAIC) inquiry into the gunrunning activities of Sunny Okah at the Kaduna and Jaji military depots when Azazi was the GOC 1 DIV led to the sacking of the latter as Chief of Defence Staff and his premature retirement from the army in 2009. Azazi, as the Chief of Defence Staff, in collaboration with Lt. Col. L.K. Are (then and now DG, SSS) and Maj. General Adekhegba (then DMI), did all he could to cover up the theft and protect its perpetrators, particularly Sunny Okah.
The sacking of Azazi was definitely part of “punitive measures …against prominent figures involved in the theft” which the NAIC report recommended. To be more specific, the report advised “government to sanction Gen Azazi appropriately.” (Full text of the NAIC report can be accessed at: http://saharareporters.com/sites/default/files/uploads/Azazi.pdf.
If Azazi was punitively punished for his failure to stop the theft from the depots under his control, the people who the report referred to as “senior politicians in this issue” escaped because investigation into their involvement was overtaken by events. But who were these “senior politicians”, anyway?
The committee found out that Governors James Ibori and Dipriye Alamiyeseigha were purchasing weapons stolen from I DIV and handing them over to Niger Delta militants. Jonathan, which the report shied away from mentioning because he was already the vice-president by the time it was submitted, cannot escape implication since the theft and purchases continued during his tenure as the Governor of Bayelsa state. Also, when the report was submitted, we must remember, James Ibori was the most powerful adviser to late President Yar’adua. Which politician could have been more senior?
Now, we need to know why the NAIC report found it imperative to recommend the investigation of these politicians. Come with me:
“At least the names of two senior politicians… have been mentioned in this investigation. There may be many more. These two politicians are mentioned as the financiers for the arms acquisition project. Certainly, they would not have provided large sums of money without knowing the source of the weapons. Simply put, a serious breach of security of this magnitude deliberately masterminded by the state governors. This gives a serious political dimension to the case.
“It is therefore important that care is taken identifying all possible political linkages to this case with a view to uncovering all the politicians behind this project. Politicians can aspire to any position in Nigeria. One wonders what would happen if Nigeria ends up with a president who does not believe in the entity of the Nigerian nation, and a record of involvement in cases like this. Identifying politicians with complicity in this or similar case will help in ensuring that they are blacklisted and prevented from vying for or taking higher offices because of the implications that could arise.”
Too late.
One of the biggest misfortunes of Nigeria today is that the above warning from the NAIC was not heeded to or “Baba go slow” could not act fast enough. One of those senior politicians, Jonathan, became the acting president barely two years after the report was submitted. What he did after assuming office speaks volumes of his complicity.
Who did Jonathan pick as National Security Adviser after General Aliyu Gusau resigned in 2010? He returned General Andrew O. Azazi!
Who did Jonathan and Azazi find most befitting to run the SSS? They retired Col. LKK Are!
Where is Sunny Okah, the chief gunrunner? He is in the villa assisting the President, especially in the prosecution of his brother who masterminded the October 1 bombings in Abuja.
To whom has Jonathan and Azazi contracted the security of our maritme domain? Niger Delta militant, Tampolo.
From the above, it could easily be discerned that the relationship between the President and his chief security adviser is long standing and strong. How then could the adviser turn around now and blame the ruling party and the President for escalating violence in the country? Let us try and understand what Azazi said. His arrow was direct in its target:
“The issue of violence did not increase in Nigeria until when there was a declaration by the current president that he was going to contest. PDP got it wrong from the beginning. The party started by saying Mr. A can rule, and Mr. B cannot rule, according to PDP conventions, rules and regulations and not according to the constitution. Is it possible that somebody was thinking only Mr. A could win, and if he did not win, he could cause a problem in the society?”
In the above statements, which I quoted from nationalmirroronline.net, there is sufficient understanding on the motives of the security chief: Zoning is the culprit. Power was expected to reside in the North for two terms. But Jonathan, coming from the South, jettisoned that rule and declared his intention to contest. This, according to Azazi, is what increased violence to its present state in Nigeria.
Again, Azazi was not expecting the Northerners that lost to Jonathan – namely, Atiku Abubakar, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Aliyu Mohammed Gusau – to let the contravention go Scot free. They must cause “problems”. Three things can be gathered from this:
One, had PDP not adopted zoning as a power-sharing principle, according to Azazi, the level of violence would not have reached this unmanageable level.
Two, had the President restrained himself from vying from contesting in 2011, the increase in violence would have been averted, still. Or had Buhari – the northern candidate – won, that too would have silenced the guns of the northerners.
Finally, “the (security) problem in the society”, according to Azazi, is caused by northerners who lost to Jonathan in the PDP, or put in another way, in reaction to Jonathan’s intransigence, Atiku, IBB and Gusau, in reaction, are using Boko Haram to get at Jonathan.
Nigerians are divided on the Azazi’s statement and person. The PDP and its supporters have made statements that portray the security chief as an ingrate, or one that bites the finger that fed him. PDP, they argue, rehabilitated him when it provided the platform on which he is currently serving as the NSA.
The opposition, this time, is raising its thumb for Azazi. He provided it with a powerful ballistic for deployment against the ruling party. And attacking they did, from all fronts. The ACN, CNPP, CPC, etc., are all over the waves enjoying their vindication.
The president must have felt embarrassed by Azazi’s statement though he tried typically to cover him initially by finding excuses in semantics. Azazi, claimed the President, might have had an idea but which he could not express clearly. He referred journalist to Azazi for clarification. That clarification, however, is not forthcoming, so far.
But honestly, could Azazi absolve himself of Jonathan’s violation of the PDP zoning principle? Not at all, in my opinion. He was in the best position, as the NSA, to advise the president on the security implication of his contest, if that is what he believed then. As far as I can recall, nobody reported that he did so then. Neither did he follow his conviction and support any northern candidate.
But granted that he advised the President accordingly, why did he continue as the NSA and even travel to Washington to lure the Americans into believing that Nigeria is under a serious terrorist siege beyond its capacity to contain? Happily, the Americans did not buy the dummy. They said, “Mumu. It is not terrorism. It is poverty. Simple.”
The fate of Azazi is on the balance. The ruling PDP is turning the heat on the president to do something with the NSA. It wants him dismissed. Of course, does the president have a third option, apart from sacking him or keeping him? The choice would not be as easy as Ringim’s. In this situation, the President will be torn among three things: fear, parochial strategy, and his not so much celebrated nerves.
If the President would listen to Niger Delta elders and militants whom he dreads so much, who have turned him into a hostage and who are milking the Nigerian cow dry with the support of Azazi, then he will move to protect the NSA and absolve him of any blame. Let PDP go to hell, he will say. This one has the strongest possibility.

Again, if the President would look at the strategic role of NSA Azazi in the Niger Delta Republic project or his importance to Jonathan 2015 presidency, he will be more inclined to pardon the NSA than to “Ring” him. This option has a good probability.

If, however, he has the mental capacity to understand that the statement is the gross contempt for the President and the ruling party ever uttered by a beneficiary of PDP, then his nerves, if he has any, are likely to persuade him to bid his old comrade farewell. In that case, the Boko Haram missile that hit Ringim would have returned to hit Azazi. The security chief would have nobody to blame but his tongue, which betrayed him under the intense heat of Boko Haram. This one has a weak likelihood.

So, the chances, in my assessment, are strong two against a weak one. Whichever choice the president takes, Nigeria will remain the same – corrupt and insecure.


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  • concernednigerian

    ‘Finally, “the (security) problem in the society”, according to Azazi, is caused by northerners who lost to Jonathan in the PDP, or put in another way, in reaction to Jonathan’s intransigence, Atiku, IBB and Gusau, in reaction, are using Boko Haram to get at Jonathan.’ That is the only bit Aliyu U. Tilde got right in his analysis. The rest were just beating about the bush to confer semblance of respectability upon himself as an analyst and I think the jury is out on that. Frankly speaking, It is obvious the NSA’s statement was deliberately misinterpreted by political charlatans for their selfish reasons. The statement was directed at those PDP members who threatened to make the country ungovernable on account of their imagined party zoning policy which they felt should be superior to the Nigerian constitution. The interpretation being given to the Gentleman’s statement is misplaced. Condemnation should be directed at Boko Haram and their sponsors and that is all that the NSA was talking about. The only question we have to ask is whether those sponsors of Boko Haram are indeed members of the PDP or non-PDP members simply taking advantage of the zoning debacle? That question could even be partly answered by determining the party affiliations of those, Senators or otherwise, standing trial on charges of terrorism as well as those captured in government guest houses. ‘Omu-Alabo’ Azazi has said it all: a combination of disloyal members in the PDP coupled with disgruntled citizens from a section of the country on account of zoning hullabaloo equals the incendiary devices that constitute the Boko Haram killing machine. What is required is scrupulous adherence to party discipline that should purge those so fixated about the zoning palaver of 2011. That function is squarely at the door step of the newly elected chairman of PDP. It is now time for the dissidents to de-camp from the PDP and declare for the CPC – their regional party or form a new party of their own to contest in 2015. The PDP Party structure needs to experience a shake-up to get rid of the enemies within. However deficient the PDP might be, it is the only national party in Nigeria, hence it cannot afford to address the issue of dissidents lackadaisically. Now is the time to rid the party of those Northerners and their footsoldiers Aliyu U. Tilde has identified and named in his article. There are many Northerners in the PDP hence their exit will not be felt. On a positive note, this furore over zoning matter will make the PDP to avoid a protracted primary for the Presidential ticket in 2015 and simply endorse the incumbent to fly the party’s flag because it is obvious that the PDP cannot subject itself to a bruising battle and come out intact to fight a Presidential election. In the end, we shall know whether this statement from the NSA was a political master-stroke for 2015 or the ramblings of a disaffected Security Czar as is being inferred.

    • Patriotic Nigerian

      Mr. Concerned Nigerian,
      Please we need to smart by full way not by half way! If Northerners are sponsoring Boko Haram, and government of Jonathan has all the evidence why delaying to release the names? If that is the case, then they are not Mr. Jonathan’s’ enemy as they are been portrayed in the media. The second point is that, really Jonathan is an enemy of Nigeria and himself, if his government knew the sponsors of perpetrators of this devilish acts (of killing innocent Nigerians day and night), and he hide or refuse to name them. For whose benefit hiding the name of BH sponsors? If you look at it critically, the north is been hurt by these barbaric acts. One more, go to this web link and read this interview with the US Ambassador to Nigeria. http://www.thenationonlineng.net/2011/index.php/news/45036-what-nigeria-needs-to-tackle-boko-haram-by-u-s-envoy.html. I would really like to see you comment of this interview by The Nation Newspaper.

      • concernednigerian

        @ Patriotic Nigerian. Of course, the Jonathan administration knows whom to indict for this insurrection in the Northern part of the country but even declaration of a state of emergency and ‘sweeping of Borno State’ by the military to get rid of Boko Haram brought outright condemnation from the indigenous people of that state and beyond including the Emir of Sokoto. Of late, even the political meetings being called by the alleged sponsors of Boko Haram, under the guise of finding solution to insecurity in the North, ended up calling for ‘demilitarisation of the North’. What I am saying is that Jonathan has to operate with care in order not to provoke an implosion in the North. What the Jonathan administration is pursuing is called ‘containment policy. In modern security parlance it is also called ‘kettling’, meaning you confine the enemy to a designated spot and contain them there in order to minimise their nefarious activities. It may well be that the policy is not as successful as one would have liked, but remember this is a democracy hence people have freedom of movement. Boko Haram is a Nigerian insurrection hence you cannot unleash your Army to embark upon a scorched earth policy of uprooting everything that moves. Yet this was what the sponsors of Boko Haram expected so that they could embark upon a propaganda spree to portray the government as anti-North. Because the Jonathan administration did not fall for the bait, they are now calling for de-militarisation of the North. Let me tell you what a young Caucasian lady said to me in my student days in the UK in the 1980s. ‘It is bad to be black’. Well, attitude has now changed in that country especially since the murder of Stephen lawrence, meaning time heals everything. I am now saying it is ‘bad’ to be a Southern minority in Nigeria. If Jonathan were from a major ethnic group, perhaps he would have embarked upon a frontal attack and bring this menace to an end irrespective of the consequences. But whether minority or majority, we all belong to the same country hence what is required is the application of wisdom to make your leadership fruitful to the people. There is no united North. The Tiv especially the indigenous people of Jos are facing upheaval because of a local government created by the Northern military so where is the united North? But unbridled and unrestrained use of force against any part of the North will not augur well for the country, that is why the policy of the Jonathan administration is the best at the moment namely a security effort to contain Boko Haram as much as possible. My heart bleeds at the numerous deaths brought about by Boko Haram and that is why all of us, both North and South should support the government and mount pressure on the sponsors of Boko Haram a good many of whom are in the PDP.

  • Hashirm

    I say kudos to Dr. Tilde for a masterpiece and an unbiased x-ray to NSA’ vituperations on state of security of the nation and presumed cause(s). It baffles me sometimes when issues of immense importance such as this are dissected to clear the cloud that befoggs the mental sight of some people, they (concernednigerian) still remain in the darkness of their myopism and stark ignorance of antecedents.
    Taking Dr. Tilde’s analysis from context it really unravel some of the knots keeping the rope of the nation so uneven and rough for quite some time now, that fatigued any reasonable and sane “concerned Nigerian” praying for solution to this unseemingly difficult intricacy. Please Dr keep the good work. Reveal to us the dark secrets of those enemies of the state (Azazi and cohorts) until the world see them in broad day light.

  • Obibinna

    There is absolutely nothing wrong in Azazi’s statement. Not even an indictment of Mr. President. The message is clear. The Hausa-Fulani felt that leadership is their pre-rogative and must not be punctured by any Southerner, not to talk of Bayelsa. But soonest GEJ constitutionally made himself available over and above PDP in-house rules, the Northerners let hell loose. It’s either a Northerner forever of no Nigeria. Buhari, Atiku, Babangida, Chiroma and etal are in this bandwagon. I would rather Tilde read Azazi’s statemets well and understand simple English or he should go back to the classroom. I’m sure the unbiased reader would understand the acrimony Tilde is here trying to cause between GEJ and Azazi, just like he has tried in vain to dissociate OBJ from GEJ. We are used to the Hausa tactics of divide and rule. Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan, three times I called you. Listen! there is nothing against you in Azazi’s statement. he rather discreetly blamed the North for this incessant insecurity in the country, clear and simple. People, even some Northern hawks in PDP should study simple English. Let nobody be in doubt that most of our modern day journalists in Nigeria neither write no undertsand English. They hardly differentiate denotative from connotative meanings of words contextually. Okay, Jonathan, remove AZAZI and put Hausa man and see if you will survive the next one month, or make either Atiku or Chiroma your next VP and then compose your NUNC DIMITIS(farwell song). I only blame GEJ and AZAZI for sparing these parasitis fools.

  • Obibinna

    NOTE CORRECTIONS PLS. Nor, not no. Parasitic not parasitis. Thanks.

  • Umar

    Thank You Dr Aliyu, you have earned my respect the more with this excellent analysis. Please keep up the good work and we shall continue to hope and pray for more Nigerians to think positive always. The negetive comments coming from the few below is an inidication of how some people block their hearts & minds from undersdtand issues because they are already biased. Kindly keep up the good work and Thank you.

  • Umar

    sorry I mean “understanding” and not understand

  • Sgomwalk

    WHY ARE YOU NORTHERNERS BIASED.?
    PERHAPS THE VEIL COVERING YOUR EYES HAD MADE IT IMPOSSIBLE FOR YOU TO SEE THAT THE NORTH HAS BEEN LEFT BEHIND IN EVERY SECTORS.
    AT YOUR OWN PERIL YOU BROUGHT DOOM TO YOUR PEOPLE.

    BLAME YOUR PAST LEADERS, IBB, BUHARI, ABUBAKAR, ABACHA.
    UNFORTUNATELY THE NORTHERN PART OF NIGERIA MUST ENTER THE GUINNESS BOOK OF RECORD FOR PRODUCING WORSE LEADERS .
    THE NORTH SHOULD HOLD THE LIVING AMONG THEM ACCOUNTABLE BEFORE THEY DIE.

    THERE IS FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION AND IT SEEMS NIGERIANS MAY AS WELL DECIDE WHAT THEY WANT.
    IT IS BAD REMAIN A BEGGAR . AT LEAST THE NORTH SHOULD HAVE SOME PRIDE IN THEMSELVES. IF THE SOUTH WANTS TO GO, THE BEST THING IS FOR YOU TO RESPECT YOUR SELVES AND THEIR WISHES.

    NORTHERNERS ARE BEHAVING AS HANDICAPS.
    VIOLENCE DOES NOT PAY. IT IS BARBARIC.

  • Abba

    Mr. Obibinna, It has been over a month now and Mr. President is still alive.
    Sorry.