“The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain,
To serve with heart and might one nation bound in freedom,
peace and unity.”
The promise contained in the above verses of our National Anthem, are the words that inspired and directed the steps and actions of one of Nigeria’s and, indeed Africa and the world’s finest Generals of the 21st century “General Andrew Owoye Azazi”.
General Azazi’s unwavering belief in and commitment to the Unity and National interest of the Nigerian state, has brought him many knocks from many quarters especially among his fellow Izon people, who thought his rise to the height of the pinnacle of Nigeria’s military apparatus meant a rise of his co-ethnics, but to their chagrin, that was not the case, as the General remained resolute to his dream of a detribalized Nigeria; and even died in a Nigerian Military helicopter despite the fact that he could get an alternative private helicopter.
That was who Azazi was. We were pained and indeed appalled to read the denigrating words of one Dr Aliyu U Tilde, titled “Azazi: End of A Dream”, first on Nasir El Rufai’s facebook page and later that of the author.
We were shocked because of the author’s insensitivity to the pains the Azazi family, friends, colleagues and, indeed Nigerians must be going through; trying to come to terms with that irreparable loss. In that shameful gory piece, Dr. Tilde said so many heinous things about the late Four Star general that we will not ordinarily be disposed to dignify him to the dishonour of such a great Nigerian by repeating them. Rather, we will refute every one of his wicked and devilish lies against a man he could not speak against in life but only cowardly waited to insult the dead, throwing all African traditions to the wind.
We are not surprised that Dr. Tilde will go so low, because our understanding of the psychology of degenerates avails us the requisite knowledge to know his impetus.
First Dr. Tilde assert thus “I knew little about the late General before the publication of a Nigerian Army Intelligence Corp (NAIC) report that indicted him in the colossal theft of weapons from the military warehouses in Kaduna and Jaji when he was the GOC 1DIV.”
We must commend him for starting his piece with the truth that he “knew little about the late General…” That confession should have guided any critical mind that may have read his blasphemous piece, but in today’s Nigeria, critical thinking is now a very scarce commodity, so many must have been misled by him, hence the necessity of our rebuttal today.
It will interest all Nigerians to know that to date the so called report that purportedly indicted Azazi is yet to be published anywhere else but Sahara reporters. We are not surprise that Dr. Tilde has decided to base his entire edifice of lies and fabrications on a Sahara reporter’s story. This is especially because the fabrication of lies is the trademark of that website. Memories of how they attributed almost all known deadly ailments in the world to the First Lady. Today most enlightened Nigerians know Sahara reporters better and take their reports with a pinch of salt.
Now, let us take a closer look at the so called report (as presented by Tilde) and place its purported content under the bright light of truth and see if it can withstand critical scrutiny.
According to Dr. Tilde, “Briefly, the NAIC report contains details of how close to 7000 assorted weapons were stolen between 2000 and 2007 from the ordinance depots in Kaduna and Jaji. The theft was masterminded by one Maj. SA Akubo, who sold them to Niger Delta militants through Sunday Okar (a relative of Henry Oka, the MEND leader). It started with the discovery of the Jaji incident in February 2007, which renewed another inquiry into the theft that has been taking place in Kaduna when Gen. Azazi was the GOC of 1st DIV.”
Now the questions we must ask the lying Dr. Tilde are:
1. Was Azazi the Head of 1st Div in the year 2000, when the alleged stealing of weapons started?
2. Since Azazi was only promoted to GOC 1st Div in January 2005, 5 years into Dr. Tilde’s reported timeline, who was in charge of the ratchet from 2000 to 2005?
3. Was that person also an Ijaw man and a secessionist?
4. How many of the “close to 7000 assorted weapons” were stolen and sold between 2000 and 2005 and how many were stolen from then to June 2006, when Azazi was appointed by General Obasanjo as Chief of Defence Staff of Nigeria?
5. More curious, why will General Obasanjo appoint the kind of person you described in your piece to the post of CDS? We will return to this later. While we leave you to answer those questions and allow critical thinking Nigerians to scrutinize your claims more, let us turn to your other claims.
Again, Dr. Tilde, said, “It took the discovery of the Jaji theft in 2007 and the tenure of another DG of SSS to mount a conclusive investigation. None of the recommendations of the NAIC report were taken seriously except the court-martialling and jailing of Maj. Akubo and the soldiers involved”
Here again, one cannot help but ask him some questions to expose the inconsistencies in his pyramid of lies.
When exactly in 2007 was the theft discovered and when was the investigation concluded? We ask because it is on record that Azazi had for some time had one of the fastest growing military careers in the history of present day democratic Nigeria, between May, 2006 and June, 2007 the General had worn the ranks of Major General, Lieutenant General and General. So the question you must answer to all Nigerians in the memory of this General is, how come a man who has been indicted by a Military report, (and knowing who Obasanjo is, is it possible that he will appoint anyone to such strategic posts without a thorough background check?) got such promotions and appointments in the same Army?
Also, it will be very helpful if Dr Tilde tell us why Yar’Adua, having gotten such a damning report about Azazi waited until 20 August 2008 to replaced Azazi with Paul Dike as CDS and announced Azazi’s retirement from military service?
At this juncture, it should be noted that General Azazi was appointed as Nigeria’s Chief of Defence Staff in May 2007. So, is Tilde telling Nigerians that Yar’Adua did not follow the investigation of the stolen arms that he kept the ‘mastermind’ in office that long? It is on record that General Azazi was promoted and decorated with the rank of a Four Star General by the same President Yar’Adua.
Also, Tilde said, “Jonathan’s tenure as the Governor of Bayelsa state after the impeachment of Alamieyeseigha, it is safe to conclude that the caches delivered during his tenure as governor were also paid by him. Only that the report fell short of mentioning his name since by the time it was submitted, he was already His Excellency, the Vice-President, but it strongly recommended that politicians involved in the scandal should be investigated to avoid a secessionist becoming the President of the country some day.”
Now here again, we can’t help but ask Tilde more questions:
Who was the state Governors buying the weapons for? Secessionists right? And according to Tilde’s twisted reasoning, President Jonathan as Governor of Bayelsa must have paid for and received weapons right? So who sponsored the attack on the home of Vice President Elect Goodluck Jonathan who was also the Governor of Bayelsa State, in May 2007?
Now, we will not bother to address his claims about the death of President Yar’Adua, but since he seem to know a lot about poisons and the ways they are administered through microphones, we will leave Nigerian investigators to contact him on how to get to the root of how the President died. We are sure in the process; he will also help them with useful insights into how Abiola and Idiagbon died too. It will be recalled that in a wikileaks cable recently declassified, General Aliyu Gusau revealed so many things to the former United States Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, including Yar’Adua’s health, but we will not go into that here. See: http://www.nairaland.com/1032598/fmr-nsas-bombshell-yaradua-psychiatric
We will also not waste time here discussing how Azazi became NSA because the Nigerian people are all witnesses to the exit of General Aliyu Gusau (rtd) to pursue his legitimate Presidential ambition and the vacuum that his exit left in security and the obvious need for the appointment of a successor.
It is curious that Tilde has remained mute about the fact that late President Yar’Adua appointed General Sarki Abdullahi Mukhtar, a fellow Hausa/Fulani as his NSA, Abacha had Ismaila Gwarzo from Kano, as NSA, just as IBB had Gusau, and the author did not find any fault in that.
Thus, unless he is saying the office of the NSA is an exclusive preserve of the Hausa/Fulani and/or the North, then we don’t see what is wrong in President Jonathan appointing Azazi, who holds the distinction of being one of the five Four Star Army General in Nigeria’s history to be promoted through due process to that height; and one of Nation’s finest Intelligence Officers to replace Gusau, Ijaw or not. After all, the same Jonathan replaced him with Dasuki a Sokoto Prince.
So we will ignore Dr Tilde’s obvious ethnic bigotry in insinuating that Azazi only became NSA because Jonathan is a fellow Ijaw man. We ignore him because from our discussion so far, it is clear that Azazi’s career flourished under Heads of State from other Ethnic groups. Thus, I will not stoop so low to engage him in his forte, namely ethnic based political discourse.
Furthermore he said “The return of Azazi as the NSA witnessed the beginning of one the most violent phases of Nigerian history since after the civil war. First was the Independence Day bombings that were claimed by MEND. Despite the claim, the Jonathan political syndicate roped it on some northerners, principally Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, in a move that will start a series of security blackmails to undermine the North. The nation was entertained even before any investigation would commence with this unbelievably awkward drama of the criminal on the one hand confessing “we did it” and the President on the other defending him by saying, “no you didn’t”. Raymond Dokpesi, the person at the centre of the allegation, a Niger Deltan and chief manager of Babangida’s campaign, would later be settled with a handsome payment of some billions of naira the government owed his media outfit. All the tales of the phone calls, and sms linking him to the bombings was thrown into the dustbin.”
Now the contradictions contained in the above quoted words are classic depiction of how Tilde’s twisted mind works.
First, because “the return of Azazi witnessed the beginning of one of the most violent phases of Nigerian History”, then Azazi must be the cause, going by his twisted mind. Well, for the avoidance of doubt, let it be stated here that Boko Haram has been in Nigeria before Azazi became NSA. It is indeed a creation of some Northern elite. This much is contained in an investigative report by The Street Journal. According to them,
“Investigations revealed that the Governor actually found some members of the group useful during the general elections in 2007 and funded them back then. That much was also confirmed by the Arewa Consultative Forum Chairman a few days ago in Abuja. Speaking after a meeting with the President, General Jerry Useni said “I remember when I was the deputy national chairman of the ANPP, I went to Borno State to commission some projects and when we were driving along one of the major streets, I saw young boys selling petrol in jerry cans and I asked the governor why he allowed them to be selling on a major road like that, and he said, ‘no, no, leave them; they are very useful during general elections. We can use them to turn everywhere. So, it means they were used during the elections. So, that was how it all started”.
Besides, a former member of the Group, Sheik Sani Haliru named IBB, Buhari,Top CBN-Officials as Boko Haram Sponsors, but we will not go into that since we don’t have any concrete evidence to back his claims. (http://www.republicreport.com/exclusive-ibb-buharitop-cbn-officials-are-boko-haram-sponsors-sheik-sani-haliru/)
The point here is, contrary to claims by Tilde, Azazi’s appointment has nothing to do with the escalation of Boko Haram’s terror attacks.
Also the contradictions in Tilde’s thoughts can be seen in the fact that, in one breath, he is accusing Azazi and Jonathan of trying to rope in Northerners and at the same time saying they not only let the chief link Dokpesi whose indictment would have effectively led to fingering his principal at the time, Babangida, but he was also settled by Jonathan.
Now the question all reasonable men will ask is why would a government bent on roping in Northerners let Dokpesi go free, when his indictment would have achieved the ultimate objective, since Dokpesi couldn’t be ‘working alone’?
Let’s even leave his statements about the October first Abuja bombing and concentrate on his more ridiculous claims about Azazi’s role as the leader and originator of Boko Haram. We must commend Tilde for one thing, namely, the novelty of his delusions and hallucinations. According to him, “Then came the goldmine. Boko Haram. Activities of the group resumed and took a very violent form. Bombs started exploding in various places; some claimed by Boko Haram, others still remaining a mystery. Among the mysterious is the 2010 Christmas eve bombing in Jos.”
At this point, once again, we cannot help but inform Nigerians of the evil lies contained in the above quote. Such lies can only come straight from the pit of hell.
The truth of the matter is, there is nothing mysterious about the Christmas Eve Jos bombing because Boko Haram claimed responsibility for it. Al Jazeera headline of 28 December 2010 confirms that Boko Haram proudly claimed responsibility for that wicked attack and senseless killing of at least 38 people and left many more injured. According to them, Boko Haram had the following statement on its website claiming responsibility: “O nations of the world, be informed that verily the attacks in Suldaniyya [Jos] and Borno on the eve of Christmas was carried out by us, Jama’atuAhlus-SunnahLidda’AwatiWal Jihad, under the leadership of Abu Muhammad, Abubakar bin Muhammad Shekau.”
Furthermore, Video footage of a man believed to be Shekau speaking in the Hausa language was also posted on the website; had this to say:
“We are the ones who carried out the attack on … Jos,” “We are the Jama’atuAhlus-SunnahLidda’AwatiWal Jihad that have been maliciously branded Boko Haram …
“Everybody knows about the gruesome murders of Muslims in different parts of Nigeria … Jos is a testimony to the gruesome killings of our Muslim brethren and the abductions of our women and children whose whereabouts are still unknown …
“My message to my Muslim brethren is that they should know that this war is a war between Muslims and infidels. This is a religious war.”
What the foregoing shows is that not only is Tilde a degenerate lair that is labouring hard to deceive unsuspecting Nigerians with fabricated lies, he is also trying to create smokescreens around Boko Haram’s terrorist attacks on defenceless Nigerians and trying to blame others for same. Note how easily he could label ex-agitators in the Niger Delta terrorists, but not a single word on Boko Haram, who are the real terrorists. That is the main reason why we are not astonished that today the cowardly Tilde chose the Immaculate General Azazi to denigrate simply because he knows that the late man cannot resurrect from the grave to speak in his defence. Such are the ways of cowards like Tilde. Ordinarily, we wouldn’t have wasted our time to dignify his baseless rubbish, but then evils like this only flourish when good men and women say and do nothing.
The timing of this attack on the memory of Azazi, a man who served Nigeria with all his might believing that the labours of our past heroes will not be in vain, should be a source of concern to all patriots in this country. It will be recalled that just one day after Azazi’s death, comments attributed to one Major Aminu Gadzama, on Asari-Dokubo facebook page, boastfully asserted thus
“My message to him again is that I come from a LEAGUE of DOERS. Now you have an idea of what DOERS do. We do not go on the pages of newspapers ranting.
Asari should watch a video of himself again. He boasted about being able to EXECUTE non IJAW people and particularly Hausa-Fulani’s in the Niger Delta.
DOERS don’t go on youtube to RANT. Asari himself can now testify that DOERS take the battle to cowards”
And now on the 30th of December, 2012, just a day after the General was interred to rest in peace, there is another cowardly attack from folks who could not dare to say a word against him when he was alive coming out to piss on his grave. Millions of Nigerians who know Azazi and the values he stood and lived for and died for will not allow that to happen.
Tilde’s claims that, Azazi as NSA successfully caged the President in the Villa is unfounded, baseless and useless. His biggest problem is that he has such a short memory for a liar. How could a NSA who was so powerful that he could cage the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces in the Villa, be sacked by the same caged President? This is just another example of the kind of web of lies the author tangle himself in.
Also, his claim that Azazi tried to lobby the USA to support a secession plan in the Niger Delta which only exists in his sick imaginations is utterly ridiculous and disgusting and therefore deserves no response. However, the author should give us evidence of Azazi’s meetings with the US authorities where he“…tried hard to get the Americans to settle in the Niger Delta as part of its secessionist agenda.” And how “His call for strategic alliance with the Americans was politely turned down by the superpower” There have been some diplomatic cables of the US released by wikileaks, perhaps, Tilde will do well to show us one where Azazi made those moves, to back his claims. We will show you one later, involving another former NSA.
He asserted thus “America even refused to list Boko Haram among terrorist organizations, preferring to declare only three of its top leaders as terrorists. It did not stop there in punching Azazi’s balloon. It blamed the crisis on how the north is becoming increasingly alienated in the political and economic schemes of the country.”
This is also another historical and baseless lie straight from the pit of hell. This is because it is on record that contrary to Tilde’s lies, the Nigerian Government under President Jonathan has consistently opposed plans by the US Department of State to list Boko Haram as a terrorist organisation, due to some strategic National Security reasons, knowing that such listing will not only give the U.S the power to violate Nigeria’s territorial integrity in the chase after the sect, but as the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.S puts it “the administration of President Jonathan believed that the U.S administration adding Boko Haram to its FTO list would first and foremost, embolden the organization by elevating its terrorist status worldwide and secondly subject Nigerian travellers to the U.S increased scrutiny, embarrassment and humiliation from U.S immigration authorities. (vide:http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2012/08/16/Nigerian-government-opposed-to-Boko-Haram-terror-listing-by-US/UPI-25441345121670/)
For this decision not to encourage the listing of Boko Haram as an International Terrorist Organisation, the Jonathan Government has been criticized by both local and international observers and commentators. In fact, as recent as 17 December 2012, the U.S based, Patriot billboard wrote a piece titled “Nigeria and US Reluctance to label Boko Haram a Terrorist Group”, questioning why a group that specialises in killing defenceless innocent people should not be called by its proper title of a terrorist organisation. (seehttp://patriotsbillboard.org/?p=3342)
More laughable is his further claim that the US “blamed the crisis on how the north is becoming increasingly alienated in the political and economic schemes of the country”. That claim is as out of sync with the existential realities on ground as it is appalling.
How could anyone in their right senses claim that the North is becoming alienated from the political scheme of things in Nigeria when the same region current produces: the Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House, Chief Justice of the Federation, etc? So one wonders how a region that has the number 2, 3 and 4 citizens of a country and some of the other most strategic posts in same be considered politically alienated or disadvantaged. Here again Tilde’s quest for ethnic based political domination is most evident. Is it that the North will only have a sense of belonging in Nigeria only when it produce the President?
Again, we must ask, how can anybody in their right senses claim that the North is becoming alienated in the economic scheme of things in Nigeria? Is the richest black person in the World not from that region? How can the North be alienated economically when they own almost all the Oil blocs in the Niger Delta and Nigeria? We all know that Oil is the pivot of the Nigerian Political economy. So how can those who control almost all the Oil and gas resources of Nigeria be considered alienated from the economic scheme of things in the same country? Little wonder Dr Tilde said “…Niger Delta would not be a better secured place for Nigerian oil…” Indeed as far as his co-ethnics own the Oil Wells in the Niger Delta, the Oil is Nigeria’s Oil. As far as Tilde and his likes, such as Nasir El Rufai, who proudly published and promote this wicked piece in his facebook, are concerned, the negative externalities of Oil and Gas exploration and Exploitation on the Environment and the attendant dislocation of the local economy and the misery and penury that bring to the people are inconsequential. For more on the ownership of Nigeria’s Oil Blocs, see Ross Alabo-George’s Derivation and Deprivation: Why the North is Poor. (vide: http://www.vanguardngr.com/2012/03/derivation-and-deprivation-why-the-north-is-poor/)
What the evidence above proves once again is that Dr Tilde is a mischievous and devilish liar, whose main objective in this piece is not only to destroy Azazi’s legacy but to rewrite history and replace sacred truths with dirty lies.
More so, we will not waste our time in dignifying his lame excuses for the failure of his co-Ethnic, Col Dasuki to reduce and/or end the senseless mayhem of Boko Haram. However, we are compelled once again to address his weak attempts at blaming Azazi for Dasuki’s gross ineptitude and crude incompetence.
Dr. Tilde asserted thus “The reason for the inaction of the new NSA had to do with the continuous presence of Azazi around the President.” One will then reason that with Azazi now out of Col. Sambo Dasuki’s way, Boko Haram will become a history. However, the fallacies in his claims has been shown beyond all reasonable doubt as Boko Haram struck again in the North on December 24, 2012, and killed 22 people in three attacks. (vide: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/30/world/africa/nigeria-violence/index.html)
Now, just so there is no confusion, let it be noted here that General Azazi died on the December 15th and this attacks took place on December 24th. So unless Tilde wants Nigerians and indeed the world to believe that Azazi came from the dead to hinder Col Dasuki, then Tilde’s claim above on the inactivity of the new NSA is as baseless as every other thing contained in his piece.
Going forward, Tilde asserted thus “Azazi has also left behind a dream of building an independent Ijaw nation unaccomplished, though there still remains its army of ‘pardoned’ and ‘rehabilitated’ militants, many of whom, it is alleged, received additional military training officially under the amnesty program only to abscond thereafter.”
Here again, we can’t help but laugh off the ridiculousness of Tilde’s fabrications. However, we have to return to the earlier question. It is on record that General Obasanjo appointed Azazi as CDS. So as promised above, we have to ask our number 5. Question from our introduction again, viz:“why will General Obasanjo appoint the kind of person you described in your piece to the post of CDS?” Is Obasanjo also in on the dream or should we say plot of building an independent Ijaw nation? Also, giving that General Aliyu Gasau served both Obasanjo and Jonathan as NSA and giving also the content of the Wikileaks cable, is he, Gen Gasau also part of the dream to building an Independent Ijaw nation?
Tilde’s answer to that will help put this discourse in a better perspective.
For the avoidance of doubt, let it be noted here that all the talks of secession plots are all figments of the author’s imagination. Ask all those who encountered Azazi both during and after his active military years and the consensus are that he was a detribalized Nigeria and a patriot who believed and worked for the peace and unity of Nigeria all his days. Thus, it is a shame that he is today betrayed in death by some cowardly bigots who want to make the labours of this hero now passed to be in vain.
Although Tilde slickly retorted that “Perhaps Azazi is innocent of these allegations, after all.” Good men should not sit back and allow evil men like Tilde to slander the dead and hope to create escape routes like his retort.
What kind of society and Nation are we hoping to build? Is it one that the hard-works and sacrifices of our heroes will be thrown to the dustbin immediately they die by ethnic jingoists? Will Tilde, El Rufai and Sheik Gumi who all shared this piece take kindly to the denigration of the memory of Ahmadu Bello, Aminu Kano, Tafawa Balewa, Gen. Murtala Muhammed etc.?
Azazi was a man who having grown in his chosen profession through sheer dedication to hard-work, merit and excellence, believed that all men must attain greatness through the same path. Today, you cannot find a single person in the Nigerian Army who got into the force through unmerited favour from Azazi. That is who Azazi was. Some of his own kins may not have loved him for that, but he is respected by all who knew him. Can the same be said of Tilde and his likes? Only history will tell.
Fortune Alfred and Norman William Ebiowei
This piece was first published in ThisDay Newspaper of Monday, February 4, 2013, print edition(hard copy) in pages 60 and 61