Former National Security Adviser, the late Gen. Andrew Azazi
•Burial holds weekend in Bayelsa
Olawale Olaleye, Anayo Okolie in Lagos and Muhammad Bello in Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday visited the family of former National Security Adviser (NSA), the late Gen. Andrew Azazi, at his Lagos residence at about 10.20 am and held a closed-door meeting with the widow, Alero, children and grandchildren of the deceased for several minutes.
Although details of the meeting were not disclosed, a family source said the president was briefed on the funeral arrangements and expressed his condolences to the family.
The body of the late Azazi is expected to be buried this weekend at his hometown in Bayelsa State.
Azazi and former Kaduna State Governor, Patrick Yakowa, along with four others, died on December 15 when the navy helicopter conveying them to Port Harcourt from Okoroba in Nembe area of Bayelsa State crashed in the creeks.
Yakowa has since been buried at his hometown in Fadan Kagoma, Kaduna State.
The president, who did not speak at the open session, which held in the living room downstairs before he proceeded to the meeting with the family, later signed the condolence register opened at the Azazis’ house in which he described Azazi’s death as a great loss to the nation.
“Nigeria has lost a man, a great man! I personally felt bad when I heard the news of General Azazi’s death. May God, our Father, give the family the fortitude to bear the loss,” the president wrote.
Jonathan, who spent about 55 minutes in all with the Azazi family, left at exactly 11.15 am immediately after signing the condolence register.
Addressing family and friends shortly before the closed-door meeting, the Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Mike Oghiadomhe, who spoke on behalf of Jonathan, described the late Azazi as a patriot and diligent officer.
“Azazi was indeed a great man, a diligent officer and patriot. The president had already organised a special Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in his honour and various council members had the opportunity to speak glowingly about him.
“They all had good words for him because he gave his best for the country. He rose on merit to become a four-star general. And because the president had confidence in him, he was made the NSA.
“He was a good community man. He chaired the flood committee of his home state, the most affected state.
“He played his role in his family, community, country and even internationally. We should take solace in the fact that he lived a good life. He has laid a good foundation for the family.
“Painful as it may be, this is not a moment of continued grief. God will grant him eternal rest and fill that vacuum he has left. The president has asked me to express his deepest sympathy to your family,” he said.
Apart from Oghiadomhe, others on the president’s entourage were the Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Oduah; Minister of State for Defence, Mrs. Olusola Obada; Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke; and former governor of Cross River State, Mr. Donald Duke.
Also with the president was his Special Adviser on Research and Documentation, Mr. Oronto Douglas, whose father's burial Azazi and others were departing when the navy helicopter in which they were travelling crashed into the creeks.
Former Managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Mr. Timi Alaibe, was also part of the presidential delegation.
The visit was rounded off with a prayer by the Chaplain of Aso Rock Chapel, Rev. Obioma Owuzurumba, who prayed for the repose of Azazi's soul and respite for his family.
Meanwhile, the family of the deceased has continued with the burial arrangements, which will kick off on Thursday with a service of songs at his residence in Ikoyi.
Azazi’s internment will hold on December 29 as earlier confirmed by his first son, Owoye Jnr., at his hometown in Bayelsa.