The office of National Security Adviser is a very sensitive one
in the United States of America, a country whose political system we like to
mimic. The man who occupies it is usually a close ally of the President. They
must share an identical view of what constitutes national security and threats
In the US, most National Security Advisers come from the academic or military
establishment; people who have made careers in military and or strategic
studies. In Nigeria, it is clear that our President’s prefer men with military
or at least police background (remember Gambo Jimeta and IBB) as national
Security Advisers. This is quite understandable as the office controls all the
service chiefs and other security agencies – both known and unknown to the
Given this tradition, General Andrew O Azazi is eminently qualified to hold the
office. He has had a long career in the military as an intelligence officer
before he became the General Officer Commanding t he First Division with its
headquarters in Kaduna. He was also at a time the Chief of Defence Staff.
Even before he became the NSA, Gen Azazi had a large volume of classified
security information at his disposal. His appointment to that office has crowned
it all. The President has no other person to turn to for advice when there is a
security threat to Nigeria other than the NSA. He is supposed to be better
informed than the President himself on such matters.
So far it has worked smoothly (seemingly so) between President Jonathan and
Azazi until the General decided to rock the boat recently at the South South
meeting in Asaba, Delta State. Part of his speech at the public meeting amounted
to a spirited indictment of the PDP as the mastermind of the on going climate of
insecurity in Nigeria. In his own words: “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?”
Coming from the National Security Adviser, this is indeed a serious charge; more
so when it is directed at the ruling party. In other words, the National
Security Adviser has accused the ruling party (more precisely president
Jonathan) of playing Emperor Nero. History tells us that Nero was the Emperor
who was busy enjoying music when Rome, his city state swooned in inferno.
There could be nothing more serious than this charge. If Azazi were still in
uniform, his speech would have been better rendered after the classical music
our radio and the ‘Fellow Nigerians’ that normally precede the announcement of a
coup detat. I have made a diligent study of the coup speech by Major Chukwuma
Kaduna (1966) and that of Major General Buhari (1984) and I find no difference
from what they said after they terminated civil democratic rule and what Azazi
told the world in Asaba. The duo justified their actions, putting the blame of
incompetence and the wrenching ordeal which the nation was going through at the
doorsteps of the politicians.
In Asaba, Azazi did more than Chukwuma and Buhari. He did not blame politicians
across the board - he blamed the ruling party, the PDP. He did not spare even
the President, the man who employed him. In his very words, Goodluck Jonathan’s
declaration to run for President exacerbated the violence we are facing today!
How does the Goodluck Jonathan presidency work? What is the role of his chief
security adviser in this bedlam, our modern day Tower of Babel? Is he a master
spy who delivers cold and unemotional advise to his employer, our number one
citizen or some kind of rabble rouser?
Given the sensitive nature of this speech, did the NSA clear it with the
President before going gaga?
I ask this question because the speech was not delivered in Zaki Biam or Talata
Mafara or Iwo. It was delivered in the heart of the Niger Delta, the Presidents’
and the NSA”s prime constituency.
If the speech did not throw any light on the workings of Jonathans Presidency,
it demonstrated to us just how deep Azazi reasons on security matters. How can
he tie the violent Boko Haram campaigns to PDP politics and the emergence of
Goodluck Jonathan as President? This NSA has a proclivity of trivializing very
serious and fundamental national problems.
If his heavily paid spies did not tell him, let me give him this elementary
information – free. Boko Haram came into existence because an ANPP governor used
a harmless Islamic sect to garner support against the PDP. When the governor
after victory at polls failed to implement ‘full Sharia’ as the sect had been
promised, they fell apart. The governor then used the police to brutalize
members of the sect and kill their leader, cold bloodedly. How then can Azazi
reduce the well founded grievances of the sect to a PDP and north /south
struggle for power?
When a president is surrounded by people with skewed and foggy ideas, he is
bound to be in the pathetic situation our President is. Obasanjo threatened to
impose a state of emergency on Bayelsa in 1999 because of an even which took
place in Joba, a town in Rivers state. He massacred people in Odi; cordoned a
whole senatorial zone of Benue state and murdered hundreds of unarmed civilians
there – all on the advise of his security chiefs. Yar’ adua was misled to wage
war against Boko Haram instead of finding a painstaking solution.
I believe the present President is also poorly served. Security is not a
question of acquiring armaments, no matter how massive. It is not a question of
voting huge sums for the purchase of gadgets no matter how sophisticated.
Security is about patriotism on the part of leaders, security operatives and the
people. How can the Nigerian people be patriotic when their leaders and security
operatives are not?
I recall sadly that while Azazi was GOC of First Division in Kaduna, a large
stock of arms were stolen from the armory there and sold to Niger Delta
militants. These arms were then used to kill Nigerian soldiers, abundantly.
Now, as National Security Adviser, expressing such disturbing views, one is left
to wonder who this Azazi is working for.
Emmanuel Yawe can be reached on