Monday, 9 June 2014

Apologies to Azazi

Andrew Azazi
As the security question in the country is gradually, if not completely, turning to a complete puzzle, which will take a lot more than the normal requirements to unravel, it is further aggravated by a myriad of confusing unfolding of events, criss-crossing of opinions and viewpoints from supposed experts and consultants on security, avalanche of media festering, and of course spinning and counter-spinning of moves. Behind all these drama and activities, more and more lives are being savagely and avoidably cut short, more lands are being crippled and turned in to wastelands of blood and despair, and the cycle continues with no foreseeable end in sight. No one is talking here of the economies of such places which will take only God knows how long to resuscitate.
The officers who occupy the top echelons of the security agencies in this country have been men of no little feat both on the academic and realistic fronts, especially, and since security is a field subject, much of the onus of the job relies heavily on experience, and the revered men who have occupied such offices have been quite equal to the daunting task of providing a charted course of enhanced security for the entire nation. It could have been probably attributed to the fact that this new wave of insurgency and terror, which has borne the brunt of a lot of explanations and definitions, is actually unprecedented in Nigeria, otherwise the stewardship of the holders of our various security agencies may have been properly assessed and rated, in the time past. In effect, no one particularly in the history of the office of the National Security Adviser has ever received as much criticism as the late General Andrew Owoeye Azazi.
Azazi like his predecessors, came into the office riding loftily and basking in the clout of his intimidating resume on security matters, as well as formidable experience, and settled in well on the job. But like the maestro he was, he had quickly took his time and acts together to study and surmount the terrorism problem, which had gathered appreciable momentum, and what he found out was not a pleasant one at all. In no time, he had noticed cracks in the wall of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party’s existence, and also a seeming connection and consonance of the party to the activities of the sect. He cried out, and the response he got was more cries for his head, abuse, rejection, and every other thing a straight and frank person suffers sandwiched heavily by evil in breathing forms.
For his effort of speaking out of the gross unpreparedness and inadequacies of the Nigerian military to check the superior Boko Haram challenges when they began to rear face, he got summary abuse, more abuse, and even more abuse to the level of questioning his competence in totality for such a sensitive office, from all facets of our national life. Expectedly, of course, there was a tsunami of media attack on him for trivialising and making a gallery play of our all-important security question, when lives were being sacrificed countlessly by the day. How a simple admittance of a bare-faced reality and pragmatism amounted to gallery playing would forever remain a mystery to many people, if in fact it was not a step in the right direction on the contrary, if anything. He was elevated to the position of a policing spirit, who ought to know everything and had an answer to every single crime that was perpetrated. Jurisdiction was a totally non-existent word in the dictionary of this accusation and expectation. Even marriage failures were attributed to him. Why else would Kunle decide his wife was no longer good enough for him to the point of divorce, if not for the fact that our National Security Adviser was opening his mouth too wide?
Why did Azazi receive such a huge traffic of blame, accusations and criticism, yet nobody is talking about Dasuki? Has the office of the NSA been abolished, defiled or deformed? Nobody is talking to him or about him. Instead, the Federal Government even set up a fact-finding committee while our National Security Adviser is relaxed. The man, Dasuki, and the office of the NSA should be on the fire of quick response reliability. Apart from his soft-approach suggestion in dealing with Boko Haram, which President Goodluck Jonathan and the service chiefs immediately rejected by calling for and declaring a total war on Boko Haram, what is next? We need innovative and strategic thinking and high level of manoeuverability integrating cultural political, religious, diplomatic and military protocol and doctrine.
It is strange that the Chief of Defence Staff is in the forefront of communication, information and interfacing in this Boko Haram and Chibok matter, as if the military are at war with Nigerians. The military did not generate Boko Haram, even if there is a case of mismanagement, the office of the NSA should act as a buffer and clearing house of information and procedure.
 Since the emergence of his successor, Dasuki, there is no doubting the fact that there has been an escalation both in dimension and number of the abductions, bombings and sporadic attacks across the North. It all seems as if the emergence of a northerner who seemed to understand the terrain better, as well as all the political permutations and calculations around his appointment seemed to be offering the country no respite at all. Yet, in the midst of all the happenings, he has managed to shield and veil himself away from media attention and some level of accountability. Recourse should not be shifted from the fact that he is the one expected to give us cogent and acceptable explanations for what is going on, as well as how it plans to abate, subside or even stop in its entirety. Yet, no one even seems to notice his presence, or stake in the matter-a real cause for reflection. Somehow, and some way, he has been able to evade all the media attack and propaganda seeking scapegoats and sacrificial cows: yet, this is one man that really matters in this security equation of this country.
   If the current security challenges are overwhelming our National Security Adviser, this long into his tenure, then I feel the hullaballoo around Azazi was unfounded and unnecessary. If it pans out that it is the same issue that bedevilled the country during Azazi’s time that is still at play or even on a higher scale than during Azazi’s time, then his grave is still fresh: that apology must be tendered, because he deserved it, unreservedly. He will hear. But if it turns out he was naive or a system failure at the time, then let the other option hold sway.
culled from punch newspaper columnist IKE WILLIE NWOBU