General Andrew Owoye Azazi (rtd)
Please don’t get a wrong impression from the title of this piece. General Andrew Owoye Azazi (rtd), that boisterous and vivacious man, has only been relieved of his job as the National Security Adviser; he is not dead – far from it. Azazi still has his life to live and from what I see he has so many years ahead to live. My drift, however, is I wonder quite often why it took President Jonathan this long to give Azazi the boot. For me, the growing insecurity, the rising Boko Haram attacks, which were no longer restricted to the North-east but now ravaging the North-west, meant the existing security architecture wasn’t working and needed to be changed. For me, it meant there is a need to dump that structural design and come up with fresh ideas and fresh blood.
A lot of people, Nigerians and foreigners alike, have long been disenchanted that our security apparatchik just can’t get their acts together in their response strategy to Boko Haram. Boko Haram would announce it would strike a particular target, give the date and even time; they would choreograph their steps, even video-record it for people to see afterwards like the attack on THISDAY office in Abuja, and yet our security team, though in most cases in receipt of intelligence about the attack, won’t be able to thwart it. We don’t need an oracle to tell us something is not working and a change is more than imperative.
That was the picture. But the Sunday, June 17 bombing of three churches in Kaduna, the state capital, and Zaria and subsequent strikes in Damaturu, Yobe State, broke the ice in the often irritating response mechanism to the Boko Haram dastardly acts. Two top officers in the Presidency including the former NSA differed substantially in what should be the response strategy to the crisis – should an emergency rule be declared in Kaduna State or not? One allegedly favoured it, another allegedly countered the idea and openly too. All that happened while the President was busy attending the UN Earth Summit, the Rio+20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which bothered him more than the burning streets of Kaduna and Damaturu.
Eventually, the President wielded the big stick on his return, firing Azazi and Defence Minister Bello Haliru Muhammed. So Jonathan has suddenly gotten the liver to move against his mentor and political godfather, Azazi. The story of the relationship between the President and Azazi is all too well known. Azazi was the one who allegedly recommended Jonathan then working as a director with OMPADEC in Port Harcourt for appointment as running mate to the “Governor-General” of Ijaw nation, Diepreye Solomon Peter (DSP) Alamieyesiegha. DSP accepted and that was how the man from Otuoke became deputy governor of Bayelsa State and walked up the ladder to his present illustrious height as President. So Jonathan saw Azazi as a mentor, godfather and fellow Ijaw brother whose failings he was obliged to tolerate. Many thought the President would make his move when Azazi made that faux pas at the South-south summit during which he blamed the PDP zoning arrangement for fanning insecurity in the land. Jonathan, however, mustered the courage to sanction him eventually last week. The way and manner he did it, as reported by THISDAY last Sunday, was a masterstroke. On his return from Brazil, the President summoned a meeting of the National Security Council with Azazi in attendance. After the meeting, he invited his Ijaw brother to his office and told him there was no need for him to go back to his office as he was being replaced.
Now that Azazi has left the stage to do something else, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), former aid De camp to ex-military president, General Ibrahim Babangida, and a scion of the Sokoto Caliphate, has taken over. Dasuki who was of the armoured corps in the military has an onerous task to rein in the Boko Haram sect and ward off the incessant bombings and killings. Dasuki must quickly halt the drift. Part of the reasoning behind his appointment is that coming from the North and particularly from the seat of the caliphate, the spiritual head of Muslim Ulamas in the country he would be able to rein in the Boko Haram sect alleged to have the backing of some of the Northern leaders. But Dasuki is of the Hausa-Fulani stock while most of the Boko Haram sect members perpetrating the attacks are Kanuris from the Borno and Yobe axis. It promises to be a tough one for Sambo Dasuki but I wish him all the luck in this world.
Jonathan’s Asset Declaration Question
President Jonathan has said he doesn’t care what we write about this asset declaration matter, whether we commend or condemn him for his position on the issue. So, what I’m writing on the issue is a mere waste of time, if you like. Yes, the President is very correct. He doesn’t have to publicly declare his assets. There is no provision in the law, I mean, there is no provision in Section 140 (1) of the constitution, as amended, on the need for a person elected to the office of President to declare his assets before performing the duties of the office; in Section 153, which establishes the Code of Conduct Bureau, to ensure, among others, that public officers declare their assets on assumption of office and at the expiration of their tenure and in Part 1, 3 (a) and (c) of the Third Schedule on the powers and functions of the bureau, that says public officers must publicly declare their assets. However, a public officer, not in the least the president of the country, talking about fighting corruption must be able to lay the example of openness and transparency for others to follow. That would be a strong plank for the anti-corruption crusade. I guess that is the example late President Yar’Adua tried to give when he declared his assets publicly in 2007 and persuaded his then deputy, Dr. Jonathan, followed suit. But that is the point the President has sorely missed by his “I don’t give a damn” statement.
I laughed when I heard President Jonathan ask on national television what would have changed, what would he have achieved from when he was vice-president and now that he is president. I laughed. The President thinks we are all naïve, as if we don’t see what some mere local government chairmen acquire, allegedly with public funds, within just a few months in office. The challenge, as I see it, is for journalists to activate the FoI law and demand from the conduct bureau access to Jonathan’s asset declaration forms and see what he declared as VP in 2007 and what he declared as president in May 2010 or is it May 2011. Only by so doing can we spot the difference.
For Festus Odimegwu, It’s Now Compensation Time
Remember Chief Eze Festus Odimegwu, former Managing Director/CEO of Nigerian Breweries Limited? He lost his job at the Nigerian Breweries allegedly for sticking out his neck too far for former President Olusegun Obasanjo and his third term project. He was one of the arrow heads of Corporate Nigeria, the group of top businessmen and captains of industry who was in bed with Obasanjo, who saw no evil or heard no evil once the issue had to do with the former president. When he lost his job, one naughty colleague of mine coined the term Odimegwuism and went further to talk of the limit of Odimegwuism, which he meant to refer to the limit of obsequiousness.
But the news now is Odimegwu is back again; it’s spring time again for the former Nigerian Breweries MD. President Jonathan on Tuesday appointed Odimegwu chairman of the National Population Commission. He charged the 22-member body with Odimegwu at the head with the compilation of a new national identity card, saying he wanted every Nigerian to have a national identity card by 2015. Some said Odimegwu is a graduate of business and specialises in Business Management all his life, having been educated at Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Wharton Business School, London Business School, Kellogg Graduate School of Management and University of Nigeria, Nsukka among others. But what does that matter. It’s a job for the boys, apparently. It’s pay back time for Odimegwu. And as he put it, all that is required is management, managing others. NPC, according to him, has officers from the local government to the federal level and that’s very true. He can manage them to deliver on the mandate of NPC.