By Chioma Gabriel, Emeka Mamah and Ben Agande, Abuja.
The escalation in terrorist attack in the country by Boko Haram claimed two major casualties yesterday as President Goodluck Jonathan sacked the National Security Adviser, NSA, General Andrew Owoeye Azazi and the Minister of Defence, Haliru Bello respectively. He named Col. Sambo Dasuki, rtd, as the new NSA. Dasuki who was former Aid- de-Cmap, ADC, to General Ibrahim Babangida is a no-nonsense man.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Dr. Reuben Abati, confirmed this development on a telephone yesterday but did not give details. The new NSA, Dasuki is also, a former Managing Director of Security Printing & Minting Company Limited.
A distinguished retired military officer, he attended American Universities, Washington DC and George Washington where he obtained a BA in International Relations and MA in Security Policy Studies respectively and military training in many institutions in Nigeria and abroad including: Nigerian Army School of Artillery, Oklahoma, U.S Army Command and General Staff College, Ft. Leavenworth Kensas.
He resigned in protest from the Nigerian Minting Printing Company following its controversial privitisation by former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
However, the replacement for the defence Minister has not yet been announced. Azazi’s tenure as National Security Adviser, NSA was uneventful as the security situation in the country deteriorated significantly following serial bombings, killings and kidnappings by gang groups across the across the country.
The bombings and killings of over 1,000 Nigerians and foreigners, especially by members of Boko Haram Islamic sect and his open criticism of the zoning policy of the ruling People’s Democratic Party, PDP, further pitched him against powerful forces in and out of government.
Earlier yesterday, heads of security agencies led by the former NSA, General Azazi had briefed President Jonathan on his arrival from Brazil on the security situation in the country while he was away for a meeting of the United Nations Summit on Sustainable Development.
The meeting which held behind closed doors was meant to bring the President up to date with the security situation in the country.
A source at the meeting said that the president expressed displeasure with the handling of the challenges and gave his security apparatchik matching orders to get on top of the situation.
Minister of Police Affairs, Caleb Olubolade, who fielded questions from State House correspondents after the meeting, said it was usual for his security chiefs to brief him on such matters.
“He (Jonathan) particularly did not feel too well about the loss of lives. He said we need to do something proactive to stop it at all cost.
”It is a usual security meeting with the Commander in-Chief to look at things in a comprehensive manner and see how the security agencies are fairing. It was a useful discussion on certain areas where we had problems; how to tackle them and how the security agencies can be more effective and the role the populace has to play in assisting in the war against terror.
”We had to re-appraise the other measures we had been taking before now and look at how the populace can be carried along to get more information, so that peace can return to the land. We do not really have to kill Nigerians to sustain peace.
’’The President believes that we need to talk and do what is right to ensure that we calm the nerves and make sure that these incessant bombings are minimised. It is a source of worry to all”, he added.
On the criticisms that trailed the president’s visit to Brazil while Kaduna State was burning, Olubolade said, “Nigerians will normally say what is on their mind. They have freedom of expression, but since we are all Nigerians, things should not be said to set the country aback. He (Jonathan) has a duty to perform with other nations.
”He has confidence in his security apparatus and he is not unmindful of statements from opposition. But by and large, how Nigeria can be at peace is what is of utmost importance”
The former NSA in his own contribution said all the President did was to ask his security chiefs to brief him on the situation in the country.
He said the listing of some leaders of the Boko Haram as terrorists, was a “decision by America. It is not a decision by us. They US probably feels that those are the people who they need to classify as terrorists. I cannot begin to tell you what we discussed at the security meeting. But everything is under control”
Vice President Namadi Sambo and the Minister of Defence, Haliru Bello were also at the meeting.
Other security chiefs present at the meeting included the Chief of Defence Staff, CDS, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin; Chief of Army Staff, CAOS, General Onyeabo Azubuike Ihejirika; Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Mohammed Umar and the Acting Inspector General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Dikko Abubakar.
Nigerians yesterday reacted to yesterday’s sacking of the former National Security Adviser, NSA, General Andrew Azazi and the Minister of Defence, Dr Haliru Bello, by President Goodluck Jonathan with shock and disbelief, hoping however that the action would bring an end to the serious security challenges facing the country.
Those who reacted over the matter included the former Minister of Abuja Federal Capital Territory, and chietain of the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, General Jerry Usaeni, rtd, the Coodinator of Ijaw Monitoring Group, Joseph Evah, Brigadier- General John Shagaya, rtd, and National Publicity Secretary of ACF, Mr Anthony Sani and Col Abubakar Umar rtd. Umar simply said he would confirm the development before reacting.
Shock greets removal of Azazi, Bello
General Jeremiah Useni wondered if it was news or rumour saying he has not heard any official statement on that as General John Shagaya said it is a security matter he would not want to dabble into.
However, National Coordinator of Ijaw Monitoring Group Joseph Eva said it was wrong to have asked Azazi to resign.
Media spokesman to Azazi Mike Awe
The government appointed him and has asked him to go. The President is under political pressure and not everything is classified and made public. When NSA asked that Buhari be invited for questioning, Jonathan kicked against it. When he suggested that some people be brought in and questioned, he kicked against it saying it is a ploy to scatter his government. So, really, it’s all about the president’s softness (weakness) but he appointed him and he has removed him.
Joseph Evah, coordinator, Ijaw Monitoring Group.
“It is a wrong advice. The former IGP was removed over the same matter but has it solved the problem? If they remove Azazi, very soon, they would advise Jonathan to resign. Would he do it? I think Jonathan should have adopted the measure the former President, Musa Yar’Adua used on him when he was the Vice President and the militants were causing problems in the Niger Delta. Yar’ Adua then relocated Jonathn to the creeks to resolve the issue. Now, the VP Namadi Sambo has no business remaining in Abuja. He should be on a donkey or camel’s back going to the north to resolve the issue of Boko Harm like Jonathan did with the militants in the Niger Delta then. The northern governors and elders are also key to this. They cannot keep pretending that they don not know the people doing these things. President Jonathan should be more pro-active about security. If he declares a state of emergency in some states in the north, something would happen. Jonathan paddled to creeks in the days of the militants of the Niger Delat. Why can’t he order Sambo to move to the desert? It is wrong advice for anybody to ask him to sack Azazi because that cannot solve the problem.
Gen. Jeremiah Useni
I am not aware of the development and would rather keep mum on the issue just as General Shagaya said it’s a security issue he would not want to comment on it. I am not aware. Is there a pubic statement on that?
As long as security challenges are there, the tendency is that those sacked had not performed. Terrorism is not an easy problem to handle. It shows that Jonathan is concerned about the security situation in the country, But whether the changes will bring about the solution is what I do not know.