Arrival of the remains of General Azazi at the Peace Park in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State... saturday
Segun James in Yenagoa
It was an emotional President Goodluck Jonathan who paid tribute to his former National Security Adviser (NSA), General Andrew Owoye Azazi, yesterday at the state funeral mass held in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital.
The former NSA who died two weeks ago in a helicopter crash at Okoroba area of the state was buried in Yenagoa.
The President said Azazi was a decent professional with the right attitude and a competent person, adding that he had no regret appointing him NSA.
Rivers State Governor and Chairman, Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Rotimi Amaechi, announced the naming of the newly-constructed Lababu road, opposite the popular Elekiaya road in Port Harcourt, the state capital, after the late Azazi.
It would now be Andrew Owoye Azazi road.
The governor, who described himself as a younger brother to the late NSA, said he shed tears at his residence in Abuja when he was told Azazi and Kaduna State Governor Patrick Yakowa had died in the helicopter crash.
Amaechi said: "I told him at one time that anytime he got to Port Harcourt and needed to fly to his home, he should call me and I would make available the Rivers Government’s helicopter.
"Azazi always wanted to fly in the helicopter of the military, except it’s not available and that is when he would call me. Once when we flew together in the Rivers State government’s helicopter and there was turbulence, I got worried and began praying. But Azazi laughed at me teasing me that I claimed to be strong, and it was time to be strong.
“When the turbulence calmed down, we cracked a joke that he was a trained soldier and me a civilian. He would tell me that pilots don't want to die too."
Amaechi said Azazi was a good man “in the true sense of the word. He believed in peace.”
Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson said the late NSA was a true hero of the Ijaw nation and that his departure would create a vacuum that would be difficult to fill in the Niger Delta.
He said: "The late Azazi is a true hero, a true hero of the Ijaw nation. For us in Bayesla State, the tragic, unfortunate and untimely death of General Azazi (CFR) has created a huge vacuum that would be very difficult to fill. We have not only lost a kinsman, big brother, father, grandfather, friend and colleague; the Ijaw nation has clearly lost one of its finest and very best. He was a patriot who gave his all.
"That is why as a government we did not hesitate to declare him a true hero of Ijawland and one deserving of a heroic burial as his remains would be the first to be interred at the Heroes Park - an exclusive burial/final resting place reserved only for all true legends and heroes of the state. The Heroes Park is a fitting tribute to his person and bears eloquent testimonies to the proud legacies and ideals that he was known and admired for. It will also serve as a constant reminder of his unblemished and outstanding record of service to the state and nation."
Speaking on behalf of members of the Federal Executive Council, Petroleum Resources Minister Deziani Allison-Madueke also described Azazi as a true hero of the Ijaw nation.