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Monday, April 30, 2012

Short Essay 29. The Fate of Azazi

Short Essay 29
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

The Fate of Azazi

The indictment of the ruling party in Nigeria, PDP, by the National Security Adviser (NSA), General Andrew O. Azazi, was the misfortune President Jonathan least expected when he woke up from his bed last Friday, 27 April 2012. The statement must be causing the him enormous pain. It jas placed him in a predicament, with the party on one hand requesting for the head of Azazi and his kinsmen on the other hand asking for his pardon. To understand the predicament of the president, we need to recast how the two once stood together as comrades in their lifelong ambition of emancipating the Niger Delta.

A Nigeria Army Intelligence Corps (NAIC) inquiry into the gunrunning activities of Sunny Okah at the Kaduna and Jaji military depots when Azazi was the GOC 1 DIV led to the sacking of the latter as Chief of Defence Staff and his premature retirement from the army in 2009. Azazi, as the Chief of Defence Staff, in collaboration with Lt. Col. LKK Are (then and now DG, SSS) and Maj. General Adekhegba (then DMI), did all he could to cover up the theft and protect its perpetrators, particularly Sunny Okah. The sacking of Azazi was definitely part of “punitive measures …. against prominent figures involved in the theft” which the NAIC report recommended. To be more specific, the report advised “government to sanction Gen Azazi appropriately.” (Full text of the NAIC report can be accessed at For my full commentary on the report, read

If Azazi was punitively punished for his failure to stop the theft from the depots under his control, the people who the report referred to as “senior politicians in this issue” escaped because investigation into their involvement was overtaken by events. But who were these “senior politicians”, anyway?

The committee found out that Governors James Ibori and Dipriye Alamiyeseigha were purchasing weapons stolen from I DIV and handing them over to Niger Delta militants. Jonathan, which the report shied away from mentioning because he was already the vice-president by the time it was submitted, cannot escape implication since the theft and purchases continued during his tenure as the Governor of Bayelsa state. Also, when the report was submitted, we must remember, James Ibori was the most powerful adviser to late President Yar’adua. Which politician could have been more senior?

Now, we need to know why the NAIC report found it imperative to recommend the investigation of these politicians. Come with me:

“At least the names of two senior politicians… have been mentioned in this investigation. There may be many more. These two politicians are mentioned as the financiers for the arms acquisition project. Certainly, they would not have provided large sums of money without knowing the source of the weapons. Simply put, a serious breach of security of this magnitude deliberately masterminded by the state governors. This gives a serious political dimension to the case. It is therefore important that care is taken identifying all possible political linkages to this case with a view to uncovering all the politicians behind this project. Politicians can aspire to any position in Nigeria. One wonders what would happen if Nigeria ends up with a president who does not believe in the entity of the Nigerian nation, and a record of involvement in cases like this. Identifying politicians with complicity in this or similar case will help in ensuring that they are blacklisted and prevented from vying for or taking higher offices because of the implications that could arise.”

Too late.

One of the biggest misfortunes of Nigeria today is that the above warning from the NAIC was not heeded to or “Baba go slow” could not act fast enough. One of those senior politicians, Jonathan, became the acting president barely two years after the report was submitted. What he did after assuming office speaks volumes of his complicity.

Who did Jonathan pick as National Security Adviser after General Aliyu Gusau has resigned in 2010? He returned General Andrew O. Azazi! Who did Jonathan and Azazi found most befitting to run the SSS? They retirned Col. LKK Are! Where is Sunny Okah, the chief gunrunner? He is in the villa assisting the President, especially in the prosecution of his brother who mastermined the Oct. 1 bombings in Abuja. To whom has Jonathan and Azazi contracted the security of our maritme domain? Niger Delat militant Tampolo.

From the above, it could easily be discerned that the relationship between the President and his chief security adviser is long standing and strong. How then could the adviser turn around now and blame the ruling party and the President for escalating violence in the country? Let us try and understand what Azazi said. His arrow was direct in its target:

“The issue of violence did not increase in Nigeria until when there was a declaration by the current president that he was going to contest. PDP got it wrong from the beginning. The party started by saying Mr. A can rule, and Mr. B cannot rule, according to PDP conventions, rules and regulations and not according to the constitution. Is it possible that somebody was thinking only Mr. A could win, and if he did not win, he could cause a problem in the society?”

In the above statements, which I quoted from, there is sufficient understanding on the motives of the security chief: Zoning is the culprit. Power was expected to reside in the North for two terms. But Jonathan, coming from the south, jettisoned that rule and declared his intention to contest. This, according to Azazi, is what increased violence to its present state in Nigeria.

Again, Azazi was not expecting the Northerners that lost to Jonathan – namely, Atiku Abubakar, Generals Ibrahim Babangida and Aliyu Mohammed Gusau – to let the contravention go Scot free. They must cause "problems". Three things can be gathered from this:

One, had PDP not adopted zoning as a power-sharing principle, according to Azazi, the level of violence would not have reached this unmanageable level.

Two, had the President restrained himself from vying from contesting in 2011, the increase in violence would have been averted, still. Or had Buhari – the northern candidate – won, that too would have silenced the guns of the northerners.

Finally, “the (security) problem in the society”, according to Azazi, is caused by northerners who lost to Jonathan in the PDP, or put in another way, in reaction to Jonathan's intransigence, Atiku, IBB and Gusau, in reaction, are using Boko Haram to get at Jonathan.
Mhm. Nigerians are divided on the Azazi’s statement and person. The PDP and its supporters have made statements that portray the security chief as an ingrate, or one that bites the finger that fed him. PDP, they argue, rehabilitated him when it provided the platform on which he is currently serving as the NSA.

The opposition, this time, is raising its thumb for Azazi. He provided it with a powerful ballistic for deployment against the ruling party. And attacking they did, from all fronts. The ACN, CNPP, CPC, etc., are all over the waves enjoying their vindication.

The president must have felt embarrassed by Azazi’s statement though he tried typically to cover him initially by finding excuses in semantics. Azazi, claimed the President, might have had an idea but which he could not express clearly. He referred journalist to Azazi for clarification. That clarification, however, is not forthcoming, so far.

But honestly, could Azazi absolve himself of Jonathan's violation of the PDP zoning principle? Not at all, in my opinion. He was in the best position, as the NSA, to advise the president on the security implication of his contest, if that is what he believed then. As far as I can recall, nobody then reported that he did so. Neither did he follow his conviction and supported any northern candidate. But granted that he advised the President accordingly, why did he continue as the NSA and even travel to Washington to lure the Americans into believing that Nigeria is under a serious terrorist siege beyond its capacity to contain? Happily, the Americans did not buy the dummy. They said, “Mumu. It is not terrorism. It is poverty. Simple.”

The fate of Azazi is on the balance. The ruling PDP is turning the heat on the president to do something with the NSA. It wants him dismissed. Of course, does the president have a third option, apart from sacking him or keeping him? The choice would not be as easy as Ringim's. In this situation, the President will be torn among three things: fear, parochial strategy, and his not so much celebrated nerves.

If the President would listen to Niger Delta elders and militants whom he dreads so much, who have turned him into a hostage and who are milking the Nigerian cow dry with the support of Azazi, then he will move to protect the NSA and absolve him of any blame. Let PDP go to hell, he will say. This one has the strongest possibility.

Again, if the President would look at the strategic role of NSA Azazi in the Niger Delta Republic project or his importance to Jonathan 2015 presidency, he will be more inclined to pardon the NSA than to "Ring" him. This option has a good probability.

If, however, he has the mental capacity to understand that the statement is the gross contempt for the President and the ruling party ever uttered by a beneficiary of PDP, then his nerves, if he has any, are likely to persuade him to bid his old comrade farewell. In that case, the Boko Haram missile that hit Ringim would have returned to hit Azazi. The security chief would have nobody to blame but his tongue, which betrayed him under the intense heat of Boko Haram. This one has a weak likelihood.

So, the chances, in my assessment, are strong two against a weak one. Whichever choice the president takes, Nigeria will remain the same - corrupt and insecure.

30 April, 2012

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Nigerian Muslim and Democracy by Hon. Aminu Tambuwal

The Nigerian Muslim and Democracy

Aminu Tambuwal

Nigeria as a democracy is given and it is my firm belief that the only way for democracy to strive in a plural society like ours is through the active participation of every segment of the society. Put differently by way of popular participation and constructive engagement and whenever these two elements are lacking, mutual suspicion and mistrust take center stage.

I must therefore once again commend the organizers of this conference for bringing Muslims together in a forum such as this where they can add their voice to the pool of opinion that informs the national discourse on operating democracy in a plural society. Nigeria is a potpourri of pluralities – social, economic, religious, cultural, ethnic and even climatic. I am persuaded that this sort of gathering has the potential of stemming acrimonious feelings of marginalization whether justified or not.

As it is common with all social concepts, pluralism has its merits as well as demerits. The meeting of minds from different backgrounds, the dazzling multiplicity of ideas and of course the very eccentric nature of the solutions, make for great potential in pluralism.

There are, however, as noted earlier, problems because pluralistic societies are, by their very nature, divided by cleavages, among others. How a nation negotiates the landmines beneath those cracks is usually the difference between progress and regression.

It is appropriate at this point to address our minds to the famous words of the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello on the need to recognize our differences and not pretend that they don’t exist. To recognize them is to respect them, and to take them into consideration when discussing issues that can potentially affect the whole nation. To recognize them is to be mindful of the various groups that live in a nation such as ours and not take any group for granted. However, it does not mean that we should dwell on our differences or allow them to jeopardize our progress. But we cannot close our eyes to the fact that such differences do in fact exist and that we have had problems in the past when we became insensitive to these realities.

It is important to recognize that these problems are not peculiar to our country. All societies have their problems and it is only the failure to discuss them amicably that leads to crisis. That is why we must always create the opportunity to meet and rub minds. In any case, many of the issues that face us as a nation are not as grievous as they appear. They are mostly problems that are common with any developing democracy and with time and more efforts many of these problems will be overcome.

Accordingly, I encourage dialogue because debates and dialogues are the bread of democracy. Indeed, it is no longer democracy if people cannot participate in the process of governance, if they cannot have their way they should at least have their say. The stifling of public opinion leads to the kind of explosions that now dubbed the “Arab Spring.”

Here in Africa, there have been more and more debates among Muslim states over the way they want to be governed and this has led to the enthronement of better democratic arrangements. It is now clear to the world that the answer to the question: do Muslims want democracy” is ‘Yes.’ But as John Esposito and Dalia Mogahed noted in their book, “Who Speaks for Islam”, after a reported data based analysis of the point of view of over 90 percent of the global Muslim community in 35 countries, Muslims don’t want the wholesale adoption of Western styled democracy that is not adapted to the peculiarities of their religion.

Yet, if freedom of speech means “allowing all citizens to express their opinions on the political, social and economic issues of the day,” then an average of 93 percent of world Muslims support it. The true essence of democracy lies on the tripod of good governance, accountability and the participation of the people. In this wise, it is no different from the ideals of a genuine Muslim society.

The House of Representatives shall continue to support this kind of conferences because we believe in their inherent goodness and because they offer the people the opportunity to give their perspectives on critical national issues. As elected representatives, we know very well the value of equal representation, not just of people, but of complexity of opinions as well.

It was Aristotle who said, “A state aims at being, as far as it can be, a plural society composed of equal and peers.” And because we represent the various multi-religious and multi-ethnic federal constituencies, we are forever conscious of the need to cater for the needs and aspirations of all hose within the federation. This is engendered by a legal and political framework that provides a level playing field for all citizens. In our role as lawmakers, therefore, we shall continue to ensure that all people are treated equally irrespective of their beliefs or ethno-cultural origins.

I therefore urge all Muslims to continue to express their views freely, as guaranteed by the democratic system that we now practice. As good Muslims and responsible citizens, however, we must strive to conduct ourselves peacefully and respect the views of others because this country belongs to all of us equally and we share equal responsibility towards its sustenance. As a country we must strive to make dialogue the default means of resolving conflicts. The truth is that without justice there is no peace and without peace there can be no progress of any sort.

I therefore appeal to leaders of all persuasions to be mindful of the way they respond to issues. Sometimes the utterances of many leaders leave much to be desired and do fatal damage to the psyche of the followers. In this regard, let me also appeal to all participants at this forum to be mindful of other people’s feelings and to be as civil as possible in their discussions. As Muslims let us use this opportunity to enlighten the world about our capacity for rational discourse, our ability to advance human progress and our enduring resolve to engender peace.

I urge Muslims to continue to rededicate themselves to the great Islamic values of patience, perseverance and the use of just and legal means to realize their legitimate aspirations. In these trying times, we all have a duty to do everything in our power to encourage dialogue and understanding among Nigerians and to distinguish between true Muslims and pretenders who are agents of violence and terrorism.

I am confident that his country has enough room to accommodate our diversities, our differences and our socio-cultural and ethno-religious challenges. The more we talk about about them, the less we will fight over them.


Premium Times

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Short Essay No. 29. Tips for Admission into Higher Instituttions in Nigeria

Tips for Admission into Higher Institutions in Nigeria
By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde

JAMB yesterday released the results of Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination (UMTE. Our blessed children have done theirs. Now, with the UTME results, I will say that they have handed the baton to us, as they turn their attention away to prepare for their WAEC and NECO examinations. May God be with them.

I am writing this brief posting on what parents need to do with the UTME results in their hands in order to ensure their wards are admitted into our universities and other tertiary institutions without much difficulty. It is not my intention to write on university admissions in Nigeria generally. I have done that in 2006 (?) in the article, The Ten Commandments of University Admissions. Interested readers can refer to my blog.

This post, though prepared for some three yahoo discussions in Northern Nigeria, is in English for the benefit of other Nigerians who are not Hausa speaking, just in case they would be interested in it. What I will say is largely drawn from my experience in handling mass admissions for indigenes of my state when I was an adviser on Education in Bauchi and the recent efforts to secure admissions for my children in Nigerian universities.

The interest to write this advice, however was prompted by a bad experience last year. The best science student in St. Louise, Kano, a classmate of my daughter, applied to BUK last year. Her UTME score was 248. It is a catholic school. No cheating wo. She sat for the post-JAMB test after filling an online form provided by the university. Then the sad news: She didn't gain admission into the university, neither for the medicine she applied for nor for any other course due to a technical problem in processing the post-JAMB test forms. Her admission was vitiated along with that of over 3,000 applicants like her, many of them I believe excellent students too, for no fault of theirs.

When my daughter informed me of her sad case I instantly called Hadiza's father and got the details. Then I linked him with a lecturer friend at BUK. They tried but the university was adamant. Hadiza is now studying physics at Kano State University of Technology, Wudil. Wallahi, Kano has missed a fine doctor in that cool but exceptionally brilliant girl that was collecting prices in almost all subjects she was offering at St. Louise.

So parents and guardians, my first advise is take the admission of your children seriously. Don't leave it to chance or to Nigerian bureaucracy. It is a battle. Please let us fight it for our children who have read so hard, who grew lean as a result of hard work and who are yet to gain the capacity to survive the struggles for survival in Nigeria. I have been in this battle for the past ten years.

I will be very brief, giving just the important things to do.

1. Request from your child his UTME result. See what he scored. If he has anything 160 and above, depending on a number of factors, he may be admissible into a university, but even with slightly lower marks, he can gain admission into other types of tertiary institutions.

2. Weigh your chances, if need be a more inmformed person. If your ward has high scores like 240 and above, your worries may not be much, again depending on the course he applied for and the university.

3. If the scores are low, you may, depending on your assessment of chances, even need to change the course or institution he applied for, or both. Fortunately, even if your child was over ambitious in his choice, because children usually fill the forms while they are at school without consultation with their parents, you now improve his chances of admission by buying a GREEN CARD at the nearest JAMB office and making the necessary changes online. Please inquire from the JAMB office the dateline for effecting the alterations or else it may be too late. Just do it as quick as possible from the week following the one in which the result was released after taking an informed decision.

3. FIRST CHOICE of a polytechnic, College of Education or University, is what is used for admission. Hardly would any university listen to you if your child has chosen it as a second choice. From my experience, they often get annoyed with you. The list of applicants sent to the universities by JAMB is usually of the first choices of applicants only. Be very careful on this. It is a golden rule.

4. If you find out that your child is not likely to be admitted into a university, you may wish to try your luck in a polytechnic or college of education of his FIRST CHOICE. There, the cut-off points are usually much lower. This is one of the dividends of unifying the matriculation examination. Kudos to NBTE, NBCE, NUC and JAMB.

5. Also, play it safe by restricting your choices to your CATCHMENT AREA. The entire country is a catchment area for UNIABUJA.  Apart from it, I don't think there is any with that wide net. Please let me be corrected on this if I am wrong. Then ABU is a catchment university for all states in Northern Nigeria. The same thing I think are UI, UNILAG and IFE to the southwest. Then other universities and institutions have their respective catchment areas in their zones and neighbouring states. If you are an indigene of Bauchi for example, BUK is not your catchment university, but UNIJOS and all universities in the former Northeast are, as well as UNIABUJA and ABU as we mentioned. Please pay attention to this golden rule too, unless you are sure that your child has the high scores that will place him on the national MERIT LIST of the institution he has applied for.

6. Once you have finalized on where the child has the best chances of admission, immediately establish a link with someone you know in the university or higher institution of his FIRST CHOICE. If you don't know anyone, please find one by taking a trip to the place and meeting with someone in the department he applied for or in the academic office. Make sure you EARN his goodwill if you want him to be picking your calls and giving you the correct information. And depending on how well you EARN that goodwill, he may even be the one calling you and intimating you on the stage of the admission process. As a Nigerian you know what I mean. Haba! A beg, me I no dey for wahala if Lamorde catch una wo. But if you have a good friend there, ah, you may not need to go that far. It could even backfire especially in Northern Nigeria.

7. Maintain a regular contact with your link. Enquire from him when the admission exercise of the university will commence. (Note that different institutions in Nigeria have different academic calendars) Disturb him. Be on his neck, until your son is through, of course softening his mind with your polite mouth and smiling pocket, if necessary.

8. For universities especially, the post-JAMB, or post-UME test as it is called, may be necessary. Don't miss it. Don't joke with it. Ensure that your ward prepares for it as he prepared for UTME and WAEC, in fact even more. The post-JAMB scores are pooled with that of the UMTE to determine the admissibility of your child. But not all universities conduct it, and hardly do polytechnics and Colleges of Education.

9. Do whatever is possible to ensure that the name of your ward appears on the first list of admitted students; otherwise get it on the second. Even with the best promises, banking on the third list, or "VC's list" as it is called, must only be the last resort for people with long legs. If you are an ordinary Nigerian, your final chance is the second list. Otherwise, better start preparing for the worst.

10. Finally, for universities that do not conduct the post-JAMB test but admit solely on the basis of UTME scores, ensure your child works hard during the first semester. If he doesn't earn at least a certain GPA aggregate, he may be withdrawn immediately the results of the first semester are out.


11. One can easily foresee disaster for children of the poor in this Darwinina struggle given the fact that every parent or guardian will try to press all the buttons he has to ensure that his child is admitted. I will be very frank here.  Children of the poor must, first, put their trust in hard work to acquire merit. That is the reason behind the merit list.

12. If the child cannot be that meritorious, it will not be a bad idea to try his luck in less score-demanding institutions or courses. Or he may even choose to take the long route through A-levels and diplomas in order to gain admission into the university directly later.

13. State governments could be of assistance. By building a good rapport with institutions in their zones, they can easily, from my experience, gain mass admissions for their indigenes regardless of their social status. This has worked in Bauchi when I was the Adviser on Education. Following the difficulty I had with the admission of my first daughter into UNIMAID in 2003, I sought the approval of the then governor to officially seek admissions for all indigenes of Bauchi state regardless of where they stay in Nigeria, as much as I could.

I will approach a VC and say, "Sir, I have come for the admission of Bauchi State indigenes. If your total admissions this year is so and so, as our state belongs to your catchment area, we will at least be entitled to so much number of entries. Give me your JAMB list, biko, I will work on it overnight, sieve out the names of students from my state who meet your cut-off marks and meet you with it tomorrow morning."

The following morning the list will be there. Then a trick: I will remind him of a promise our governor made to build a lecture hall or hostel block for his university. I will mostly get all I requested and returned home happy. Back in Bauchi, I will usually exagerate to His Excellency the cooperation of the VC and demand that he instantly call the VC and thank him. The governor will set the machinery for redeeming his pledge, as I prepare to visit the next university.

Gladly, this effort was inherited by the Yuguda administration under the able leadership of his then Commissioner for Higher Education, Malam Bala Jibrin. I do not know much about the state of that programme now as I have lost touch with the government for quite a while now.

Other people can try it, depending on the "rules of engagement" relayed admissions on the ground.


The above, as I said is my advise to parents and guardians. It is a general guide because some universities ma deman for more or less. People more conversant with the admission exercises can please correct any error I might have committed, a point that I omitted, or shade more light in the comment space below.


I dedicate this essay to Hadiza whose father was so devastated that despite his position in society he couldn't help his poor daughter. Let her concentrate on her Physics and do it to the best of her effort. God will bless it, in sha Allah.

Thank you so much.

Northern Nigeria

31 March 2012