The Fall of Azazi, the Return of Gusau, By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

Boko Haram has claimed its most important victim yet last weekend: the National Security Adviser, Andrew Owoye Azazi. For an avowed enemy of the nation’s security apparatus and political system, only the ultimate target remains: the President. If it can manufacture his downfall or the end of his regime, the group would boast that it has proved its mettle.

The fall of Azazi must have surprised many Nigerians. Ah, so the ‘clueless’ and ‘weak’ Jonathan can also bite, they would exclaim. Beyond that, biting his Ijaw brother was least expected. Many people think Azazi did not expect his sudden fall. He has since his resumption as NSA walked firmly on the presidential turf with a mien that was informed by the confidence of an insider and the assurance of a kinsman.

As the weakness in the President became clearer, the arrogance of Azazi as his untouchable protector and indispensable ally was increasing by the day. His display of power reached its peak last week when his contempt for the president was reported online. Somewhere the idea of declaring the state of emergency in Kaduna State was discussed and it was agreed that it was a good idea. To seal its fate however, the former NSA employed a sarcasm that portrayed his level of disdain for his boss, the President. “Where is the president to declare it”, was his reported remark, as if Jonathan was missing in Bermuda Triangle or he has abandoned the hot seat for a mere trivial summit in Brazil.

Azazi left office with the same demeaning impression for the President. After receiving the news of his sacking, his spokesman issued some statements that did not hide his long-standing poor rating of Jonathan’s courage to face challenges squarely. The spokesman said when Azazi suggested that Buhari and some top northerners be invited for ‘questioning’, Jonathan refused and accused the NSA of trying to “scuttle his government.”

As a tribute, I feel compelled to attest that Azazi was different from former NSAs in his relationship with the Nigerian public. Two months ago, he declared the ruling party and the northern presidential aspirants guilty of precipitating the present security crisis in the country. Right or wrong, the public felt that such statements should not have come from a person so close to the President and his NSA for that matter – a Freudian slip, you can say.

The tradition of the NSA in Nigeria as cut by his predecessors is complete silence. They understood that the strength of any security apparatus lies in its secrecy, through leaving the public guessing about its opinion and what it onows about any security issue. Even if Azazi shared that philosophy, the politician in him was not comfortable with it. He preferred activism to mystery. Under him, even the secretive SSS went public, appointing a spokesperson, issuing press statements, parading suspects and holding press conferences. The public could easily discern from these development that there was a competition for its recognition between the SSS and the police in any success, no matter how small, which was recorded in the fight against Boko Haram.

Azazi might have usurped the functions of the police and demystified the office of the NSA. But if it were not for his approach, we would not have been able to read the mind of the administration regarding crucial issues like its perception of the causes of the Boko Haram insurgency. To the delight of journalists, commentators and the opposition, Azazi was always there to let the cat out of the bag.

Well he is gone, for whatever reason and for whatever sin he committed. He is the latest victim of Boko Haram. He is familiar with sackings though, having suffered one as the Chief of Defence Staff under Yar’adua when he was indicted by an army security report on the theft of weapons from his 1 DIV by a Niger Delta militant syndicate. Perhaps, that was the first time he established relationship with Jonathan, who the report fell short of naming as one of the financiers of the gun running activities of the syndicate.

Azazi’s return as NSA might be a reward for his ethnic chauvinism. Our own, an Ijaw, possibly, my partner in the illegal arms deal is now the President, Azazi must have calculated rightly when Jonathan became the President. Jonathan too might have wondered if he could trust anyone better than the devil he knows. And on the NSA seat, we saw all sorts of sumptuous security contracts awarded to Niger Deta militants, the latest being the concession of our maritime security to them by the Jonathan administration. We also witnessed the largest allocation of our budget to national security in our history.

Azazi may now be bitter for losing the top security job but he can still keep himself busy by paying full attention to the execution of those security contracts that were fronted for him by Tampolo and other Niger Delta militants. With his departure, the dream of Niger Delta republic has suffered a serious setback. It is clear that Nigeria is bigger than his dream. Safe journey, sir.

At his heels comes Sambo Dasuki, a lesser known person from the Sokoto royal family. Compared to General Azazi, Sambo is a dwarf: a junior officer who retired almost two decades ago as a colonel. Politically, the highest position he held in the army was the ADC to President Babangida. He was nowhere close to commanding a division or becoming Nigeria’s chief of defence staff. Likewise, I doubt if he ever dreamt of becoming the NSA.

Now, if the NSA job has put his predecessor general to shame during these trying times, how did the President got convinced that Sambo would succeed in disabling the bombs of Boko Haram and silencing their guns? Look at the gamble: apart from his political appointment as the Managing Director of Nigeria Security Printing and Minting Corporation, the new NSA has nothing in hand to prove that he is competent in heading the security apparatus of country as it is today. At its face value, one is tempted to think that the appointment of Sambo is one of the most stupid things that Jonathan ever did as the President. So are we heading for the rocks, again?

Hold your breath. we are not. The President is not stupid. Come with me.

The reason is simple. Some things we get by birth. Many others we get by hard work. Few we get by association. Sambo Dasuki, I am tempted to believe, got this appointment by his marital link to the longest serving NSA, General Aliyu Gusau (rtd). Gusau is married to Sambo’s sister, the wife of late Aliyu Dasuki, may God have mercy on him. 

In the past few months, there have been reports that Gusau was resisting the pressure to return to the NSA office. Gusau might have calculated the cool reception that Nigerians would accord him if he were to return for the simple fact that he has been there three times before. Man is hardly excited with the familiar. Also, he might have been hindered morally by his contest for the PDP presidential ticket against Jonathan under whom he last served as NSA. The idea of a proxy is therefore apt. Sambo would sit in as the figurehead NSA, definitely, while Gusau would ably determine the security operations of the country.

From his position at the top, Jonathan must have perceived that Boko Haram is inching closer and closer to him. It has caused the sacking of all categories of police and security chiefs. With some clerics warning him of an impending war, the President must have realized that he could be the next victim. The nation has, with distinctions, fulfilled all the requirements for a coup d’etat. The condition is so critical that he will not hesitate to call for the assistance of anyone perceived to be capable of making a difference between democracy and military rule.

It is easy to see the idea of involving Gusau as based purely on the merit of the former NSA. However, it surely goes beyond that. I do not also believe that it is a gesture made to appeal Northerners to dismiss the notion that the inability of the government to handle the situation is not a conspiracy to destroy the North.

In my humble opinion that the return of Gusau was due to two reasons. One, from what Azazi said two months ago – that violating the principle of zoning in PDP was responsible for the present security challenges in the country and that no one expects that those aggrieved would fail to respond by creating difficulties for the Jonathan administration – it is clear that he meant that Boko Haram is recruited by those who lost the ticket to Jonathan. So they must know the secret behind it.

Nobody expects that Azazi will make such serious accusations without any support from the hundreds of files he has treated on the matter. Jonathan, according Azazi’s spokesman yesterday, has resisted the fomer NSA’s advice that such people be called for questioning. Gusau, being one of those aspirants, must have made it to Azazi’s list conspirators.

Jonathan here took a directly opposite route. If he cannot invite Gusau for questioning, it would not be a bad idea to saddle him with the challenge of restoring security to the country.

The second reason is that possibly few people, if any, in our security domain would know about Boko Haram than Gusau. It was under the tenure of Obasanjo that Boko Haram was conceived, hatched and nourished to full growth. The first we heard about the group was when it called itself the “Nigerian Taliban” after it clashed with the police in Yobe in the early 2000s. Many of the arrests made then turned out to be sons of influential people in the old Borno State. The suspects were eventually released. From there, the group moved its headquarters to Maiduguri and enjoyed the support of people like Governor Sheriff. Perhaps few people knew that it would turn so dangerous. But the SSS director then, Gadzama, has raised sufficient alarms which, for unknown reasons, were not heeded to. It took the vacation of Obasanjo from that office, along with NSA Gusau, before the authorities could provoke a violent engagement with the group resulting in the present crisis.

Why was the group not stopped from blooming and fruition during Obasanjo still remains a mystery to many of us. But it will not be a mistake to assume that the person at the helm of our security structure during the formative years of the group clearly knows its dynamics and the forces behind it. Who else is then best qualified for the job than him?

So from whichever angle one looks at it, appointing a proxy to Gusau would make a lot of sense for a scared Jonathan who is presently confined by the terror to the Villa. By appointing Sambo Dasuki, Jonathan might have bought some time, but only a little. How far he can run before the monster that caught up with those immediately below him also catches up with him is a distance known only to his destiny.

Finally, I would like to put this question to my readers. Should the new NSA fail to meet the expectations of Jonathan and Nigeria precariously attains a tipping point, would the country be ready to sacrifice Jonathan in order to avert the impending disaster or would it prefer to go into an indefinable civil war and dismemberment simply to maintain him as the President of a democratic Nigeria?

Jonathan would be keen to know your answers. But he must be under no illusions as to what they would be. Nigerians have answered such questions each time the country reaches the brink in the past. And consistently, the answers have never been in favour of the presidents. This one too will not be different, I suppose.


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  • gringory99

    a well articulated explanation of situation involving the critical stage of jonathans government.well done dr. aliyu

    • Shehububa2015

      Salish Dan Gombe, I doubt if you geniunely own this name. U need to go for a psychiatric test to exermine your mental status, because you sounded like sombody from a dilapidated psychiatric bed. Dr. Tilde cigaba.

  • Salisu Dan Gombe

    He whom the gods want to destroy, they first make promising…………the day of the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani will surely come.

    • Nagoma


      • Adviser

        Open later to Premium Times:

        Dear Premium,

        I wish you could shut down this forum. In my opinion, it has failed to produce the desired result of advancing learning and understanding among its readers which I think was its intent perpose. Instead its advancing the course of hatered and babaric transactions among those readers.

        I think it is time you took positive action, except if you had shifted from your focus.

      • Abu Ahmad

        More grease to your elbows, Dr Tilde! It is a pity that the ‘break’ money given to some chaps by their parents at junior schools turned out to be a great loss!! May God cure myopic lads!!!

    • Babso

      Your statement is apt and really it is your day that will surely come.

  • Salisu Dan Gombe

    Since the office of NSA was created in the Presidency, it has always been occupied by half educated and glorified Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani Almajiris except for Azazi. The question I will put to big Almajiri Aliyu Tilde is this: How is it that despite the fact that the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani States consume over 92% of Federal Resources and despite the domination of the office of the NSA by elements of the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani yet the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani States are the most insecure in Nigeria; they do not work, they are completely uninterested in productive and investment activities; they are the poorest, the most backward, most uneducated, completely lacking in all development indices, they are ravaged by various diseases and most of their women suffer from VVF, they have the highest population of beggars in the world, they have the highest crime rate in the world, most of their men are alcoholics, homosexuals and hard drug addicts, prostitution and corruption is the biggest and most thriving industry among the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani. To the best of my knowledge there is no Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani man that does not patronize a prostitute at least thrice a week. May be in the warped mind of Aliyu Tilde, these evils ravaging the Northern Muslim Hausa-Fulani are indeed what it means to be secure and represent the fruit of dominating and controlling the office of the NSA.

    • Nagoma

      Hiding behind a fictitious pen name is an act of cowardice. Shame!


    • gringory99

      mr gombe, let me put it for you brief so that you can understand
      materially poor
      lacks western education
      hitted by sorts of diseases as a result of poverty
      confined to their villages and birane
      not exposed b/c of non travel attitude
      all this situation which the north found itself within because of colonialist and subsequent merger with people of different backgrounds more so from the south.all this amounts not to a crime or harming character and can be cured by government.

      • Adwalkha

        you should also add that his mother, sisters and auties are roaming the streets of milan, brussels, london and paris prostituting.

  • Abohogbole

    Beautiful writeup from a subjective biased mind.

  • Fkekere

    Dr. Tilde presents this article to obviuosly pite at Sambo Dasuki. He wants the audience to see Dasuki, the new NSA as someone without merit, undeserving of such appointment. On the other hand, he tries to create a security god in General Gusau, making it to look as if the security of the nation lies in Gusau himself or in someone who by virtue of some marital relationship alone may be endorsed by him! In effect, Tilde simply succeeded in castigating these two gentlemen using very subjective conjectures that have no substance even in opinion journalism. In deed, to my mind Tilde is abusing the privilege he enjoys as a columnist and a blogger.

    On a general note, I am obliged to advise Tilde to focus his attention more on policy issues-based write ups instead on personalities. His recent write ups on personalities like Gwamma Malama, Shekarau and Kwankwaso live much to desired. First, in the case of Gwamma, Tilde did not say anything about her marital history, children and grand children if any. He reported that when he asked her about her past, she implied that she is seeking for forgiveness. If Gwamma had a good marital life and offsprings plus a track record of public service, she is worth profiling and the report published in a public discourse. Otherwise, to dish out only her supposed past love affairs with Shata in the manner Tilde did is to say the least, disgusting; capable of breeding indiscipline among our younger generation.

    Second, the Shekarau’s interview. Tilde reported Shekarau’s contribution towards addressing the problems of education in Kano State when he held sway as Governor. In fact, he specifically mentioned that the interview was a followup to Shekarau’s submission on the problems of education at a conference in Abuja. Then suddenly the interview delved into some other issues bothering on security and politics. At the end, he reported Shekarau’s comment about El-Rufai calling northern governors names instead of finding a way to partner with them in solving the problems of the north. The question is what’s the import of that portion of the interview? Is Tilde promoting peaceful coexistence among major stakeholders in the north or hatred among them? Is he trying to say that when he interviews his audience he is duty bound to publish whatever they say verbatim, unedited even if  they make statements that are redundant and capable of creating disharmony?

    And finally, the Kwankwaso’s interview. As if Kwankwaso’s interview coming up just a week after Shekarau’s had pricked Tilde’s conscience, he started by saying that most of the questions in the interview were raised and asked by another journalist, not himself. Yet he owned the entire interview and published it in his blog. How hypocritical? And instead of asking Kwankwaso specific questions about his contribution to education in Kano State as he did asked his immediate predecessor, Shekarau, to make an objective comparison (if that’s his motive), Tilde simply used the caveat that he didn’t conduct the interview alone, to allow Kwankwaso got away with bogus claims about inheriting empty treasury, and so on.

    Based on the above, I strongly feel that Tilde is not doing justice to the new found area of interviewing personalities and making such interviews the subject of his blog or column. He should rather remain focused on policy affairs and good governance issues. I believe that he can find willing sponsors if he focuses and carves a niche for himself in those areas. And that will remove the suspicion that he is interviewing people like Kwankwaso and singing their praises in spite of the true situation in Kano just for the brown envelop he would collect for survival, perhaps. Or, that he is simply anti good Islamic posture and unmindful of our cultural values as he portrayed in the Gwamma’s interview. Or, it is his ulterior desire to create disharmony among major stakeholders in the north as a part of his Shekarau’s interview suggests. Or, he is just lacking in basic decorum that he finds no merit in Sambo Dasuki and considers him incapable of holding the position of NSA. Or, he is such a disrespectful fellow that he finds it expedient to drag the name of an elder statesman like General Gusau into the mud. Or, etc.

  • Mpitikwelu_na_Ugwu_Awusa

    U see why a fulbe muslim is the worst human being to associate with. He claims to be marginalised in security service and u appoint one of his own to head it and he claims its because u are a coward. Never mind that a full star general like Abacha was so scared about his life, he never left Aso villa. While Jonathan, a mere civilian could travel out of Africa, all the way to brazil in the middle of crisis. No shaking! who is the coward here. But of course, every northern christian, be they Gbagyi, kaje, tiv, chamba etc knows, that a muslim fulani is innately incapable of telling the truth. Their religion supports it.
    Lets cut the chess. the muslim fulani hates Jonathan and wish him death. Thats what Tilde means when he says,’would the country be ready to sacrifice jonathan…’ No one is surprised anymore when they talk in blood. Its in their DNA. They just cant help themselves.But let me warn here. Any coup against Jonathan will mark the end of this nation. Too bad if you dont like Jonathan. You can always vote your fellow extremist Buhari in 2015 and u will fail again.

    • Nagoma


  • Omezonline

    The Tilde’s of this world are part of the reasons why the Hausa/Fulani think they are born to rule. I would not have commented here because my comments will only make u popular, albeit negatively. However, to keep silence in the face of your devilish opinions might be misconstrued as approving the product of your warped mind. We know your paymasters and at the right time, you will be exposed. We know you are looking for a political appointment and contracts too. I may not be a fan of GEJ, but if we sacrifice him like you suggested, who now takes over? One of your own, right? We say never. Never will the Hausa/Fulani hold us to ransom in this country. It is now turn by turn. After Jonathan, the MiddleBelt will take over. Mark my words!!!

  • Snowwhite

    Dr. Tilde, I will say welldone. Even though some of your statements show a little bias. I leave that to you since you rightly called it “your opinion” and I have to respect that opinion and make no comments on them even if I don’t agree with them.
    I just have 2 comments to make:
    My first comment will be with respect to your statement:”As a tribute, I feel compelled to attest that Azazi was different from former NSAs in his relationship with the Nigerian public. Two months ago, he declared the ruling party and the northern presidential aspirants guilty of precipitating the present security crisis in the country. Right or wrong, the public felt that such statements should not have come from a person so close to the President and his NSA for that matter “. Whatever Azazi said with respect to the PDP must have come as a result of frustrations he was going through. I like the fact that Azazi was always out spoken about issues and hardly had anything to hide.We may call it arogance or disrespect for the president but were his statement true?
    My second comment is that I have always said that Azazi as the NSA had failed ever since the sporadic killings by this terror sect and should resign honorably.The problem is that Nigerians don’t resign, even when they know the situation is beyond them or their efforts are being frustrated.They will remain until they are forced out of office. Lets hope Azazi doesn’t start a BH 2 in the Niger Delta



  • Isa

    Salisu Dan Gombe Or whatever you call your name, You are really a pathetic human being for making a such statements plus when talking about development all we need to do is hope for the best for nigeria and not degrading some part of the country coz i believe if the northern part falls it will surely affect you too wherever you are in the country tooo

  • Dr.Tilde thanks for this piece.

  • Usmanmaulud

    I really like that keep it up, as for the fools that are saying nonsense & using abusive languages on you, north & Islam very soon they will surely regret that Insha Allah. You should all bear that in Your minds that NO Northerner is afraid of all your intimidations, we voted for GEJ to become the President of Nigeria not President of South-South or Christains alone, & this Country doesn’t belong to 1 religion, tribe or a political zone. Remember GEJ was not the 1st elected Christian, & southern President, Olusegun Obasanjo ruled this Country for 8yrs successfully without any problem. And you should not forget that late Umaru Musa ‘Yar Aduwa become the President of this Contry when the likes of GEJ & Azazi are killing people especially security personnels (army, navy, police etc) posted to the South-South zone to protect the lives & properties of Nigerian citizens. But He brings a lasting solution to their problem through the Amnesty programme that He initiated. Is this not enough for you BASTARDS to understand what the Humble & patriotic Dr Tildi is saying??? Nonsense People, Idiots, Fools that knows nothing in this country except sentiments & tribalism, you will all cry very soon if you didn’t change. ‘Yan Durun Uwa Shegu.”

  • Iraborfrank

    Why was Azazi not given a free hand to operate? He knows what to talk, when to talk, and where to talk. He was frustrated and did not want to be seen as incompetent; hence, the politician in him subdued his millitary discipline.