For President Goodluck Jonathan, the sacking of the National Security Adviser, General Owoye Azazi, on the heels of the insurgency in the North that has claimed hundreds of lives, did not come easy, Sunday Vanguard was made to understand at the weekend.
Left to the president, sources said, he would have preferred to retain the NSA, believing that, with time, solution would be found to the challenge of the insurgency.
But Jonathan’s trip to Rio De Janeiro, the Brazilian capital, where he attended a sustainable development summit alongside the heads of state of many other countries, played a crucial role in deciding Azazi’s fate.
Presidency sources said the president approached some of his colleagues at the parley to help on the foreign direct investment (FDI) drive of his administration but was told in unmistakable terms that it was difficult in the face of the high level insecurity occasioned by the terror attacks in the country.
“President Jonathan was told to be more decisive in tackling the insecurity challenge if he was serious about the FDI drive of his administration”, one source told Sunday Vanguard.
The source added: “It was against this backdrop that the president toyed with the idea of trying another security machinery to combat the terrorism challenge, hence the removal of the NSA”.
Azazi was removed, on Friday, along with the Defence Minister, Alhaji Haliru Mohammed Bello.
The NSA is the second security chief to be removed since the insurgency challenge in the North spearheaded by the Boko Haram Islamists began.
Hafiz Ringim was sacked as the Inspector General of Police in January after an alleged high profile terrorist, Kabiru Sokoto, under arrest, escaped from police custody.
Jonathan’s trip last week, to Brazil for the Rio + 20 Summit on Sustainable Development amid terror attacks in Kaduna and Yobe States, in itself, generated some furore.
The president was accused of being insensitive.
Sunday Vanguard learnt that Jonathan was at pains in relieving the NSA of his appointment in the wake of “the international community’s position on the Nigeria’s insurgency”.
A source said the president related with Azazi as “an uncle” and found it difficult to fault his advice on security matters notwithstanding the spate of terrorist attacks in the North.
The source traced their relationship to the past when Jonathan was the Bayelsa deputy governor and the NSA the chief of the army staff.
Meanwhile, the Niger Liberation Force, NDLF, a militant group in the Niger-Delta, yesterday, declared the sacked NSA a persona-non-grata in Ijaw communities in the region, including his country home, Peretoru-gbene in Bayelsa state.
The group, in a statement by its spokesman, “Captain” Mark Anthony, welcomed the removal of Azazi for incompetence, saying he was an embarrassment to the Ijaw nation and Niger-Delta.
The group said: “The leadership of Niger Delta Liberation Force, NDLF, has lauded President Goodluck Jonathan for the sacking of General Andrew Owoye Azazi(rtd) who was the National Security Adviser to President Gooodluck Jonathan for incompetence”.
“The NSA was an embarrassment and failure to Ijaw nation/Niger Delta and to the President’s kitchen cabinet as the man misled the President with his archaic classroom military tactics that did not work out in practical combatant operations.
“The sack decision by Mr. President is a wise decision that came almost too late as he was seen overtly incompetent, which brought Mr. President and Nigerian government to international ridicule and embarrassment on security matters.
“NDLF had called for the sack of the NSA for long since he was found, obviously derailing, which result had put hundreds of Nigerians into untimely death by the Boko Haram extremists’ activities through bombing worshipping centers and other public places”.
The militant group went on: “For the record, the sack of NSA, Andrew Azazi, is unconnected with his publicized accusation against the PDP -led government of fueling the current insecurity and bombings in northern parts of the nation. But it was a clear show of incompetence on his part.
“One could recall that in 2010, when NDLF had a gun confrontation with the Joint Task Force (JTF) and the JTF lost the battle, the Nigerian Army, under the watchful eyes and supervision of the sacked NSA, sent JTF soldiers to test run their newly acquired military planes and other lethal weapons on an Ijaw town of Ayakoromor on the 1st of December, 2010, thereby causing genocide on harmless and innocent ancient community.
“As God does His things, Boko Haram, from the North, sprung up by killing innocent Nigerians in hundreds under the same Azazi’s security supervision, but he failed to deploy the same military war planes and other lethal weapons to bomb some northern towns to stem further suicide bombing as he commanded in the case of the Niger -Delta militancy.
“But, to our surprise, the former NSA cleverly dodged his responsibility by being afraid of his former generals and ex-military heads of state from the North by shifting blames carelessly and raising accusing fingers at the ruling PDP of brewing the insecurity in the nation.
“How does PDP politics cause suicide bombing of churches and killing of innocent Nigerians? And that prompted Mr. President to demand further explanations from the incompetent NSA for his unguarded outburst”.