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I have no regrets appointing Aziza as NSA – Jonathan

By The Citizen
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PRESIDENT Jonathan described the deceased retired General Owoye Aziza as a thoroughbred and selfless military officer, saying he had no regrets appointing him as his National Security Adviser (NSA).

Speaking  during a requiem mass held in honour of the late General at the Peace Park, Yenagoa Saturday,  said General Azazi wasas a good Nigerian who believed in merit and competence.

Azazi died in a helicopter crash at Okoroba community, on December 15, alongside the former Governor of Kaduna State Patrick Yakowa.

The President said  if 50 percent of Nigerians behaved like the departed hero, the country would have been a better place.

According to Jonathan, who said his administration had been fighting corruption through different anti-graft institutions, said most of the issues bedeviling the country have nothing to with graft.

The President said: 'From my experience, having privileged to serve as deputy governor, governor and now president of the country, I know that if

you take random sample of Nigerians and want to consult them who you want to give appointment, no matter how strategic the position, 80 percent of them will first think about themselves.

'When I was to appoint my first set of Service Chiefs at a very sensitive period, I consulted some citizens; when I called General Azazi (he was not the National Security Adviser (NSA) then), he came and did the analysis. He believed in competence and merit. I have no regrets appointing him the Nation Security Adviser.'

Jonathan described reckless attitude of drivers on the nation's roads, and not corruption, as alleged by Most Reverend Hycinth Egbebor, who was the officiating minster during the burial, as one of the factors responsible for high level of accidents and loss of human lives.

Chief of Army Staff, Lt.-General Azuibike Ihejirika, while commending the late General, explained that, as an Army Colonel at the Military Secretariat, he and his colleagues had adopted General Azazi as their role model.

'As a brilliant officer, he was best all-round participant at the War College during his time there,' he said.

Minster of Petroleum, Mrs. Deziani Allison-Madueke, said the late General was 'an officer and a gentleman, the best, intelligent and thorough officer with great sense humility; courageous and full of grace,' stressing that, 'a big tree has fallen in Ijaw land.'

Former Chief of Defence Staff, General Alexander Ogomoudia, who reminded the crowd of mourners that he first appointed the late Azazi as Director of Military Intelligence, said the deceased was a disciplined officer.

Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State Government has announced plans to immortalise Azazi by sponsoring an award, chair or prize dedicated to excellence in his honour in a reputable institution in the country.

To this end, Governor Seriake Dickson has directed his deputy to liaise with the leadership of the Nigerian Military to work out modalities to achieve the purpose.

Dickson also said a befitting edifice would be named after the General in addition to a periodic memorial lecture that would be sponsored by the state government in his honour.

Extolling the qualities of the former National Security Adviser, the governor noted that no amount of honour bestowed on Azazi would be considered too great in view of his monumental contributions to the state and country in general.

Dickson said he had directed the Coordinator of the Ijaw History Project to begin work on a book to document the life and times of General Azazi, alongside Isaac Jasper Adaka Boro, Harold Dappa Biriye and other Ijaw living and dead heroes.

Describing the deceased as a quintessential Ijaw man, a patriotic Nigerian and an accomplished military leader, Dickson challenged youths to emulate General Azazi's sterling qualities.

Governor Dickson, who was full of appreciation to former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Musa Yar'Adua for the roles they played in Azazi's illustrious career, also expressed gratitude to President Jonathan for rising above blackmail and petty propaganda to appoint Azazi as National Security Adviser at a most trying period of the country's history.

Also paying tribute, Rivers State Governor, Chibuike Amaechi, said a road under construction in the Elekahia axis of Port Harcourt would be named after General Azazi.

According to him, Azazi was a detribalised Nigerian and a friend to everyone, urging the family to count on his support at all times.

The Chairman of the Governors' Forum also thanked President Jonathan and Governor Dickson for giving the Four-Star General a befitting state burial.

President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, emphasised that Azazi stood for integrity, adding that, 'greatness is not what you have but what you do with your greatness.'

The last son of the deceased, Mr. Pelede Azazi, praised his father as hero, mentor and man of virtues who stood for the truth.

In his homily, Most Reverend Egbebor, who is the Catholic Bishop of the Bomadi Vicarate, stressed the inevitability of death and called on the people, including the political class, to emulate Azazi, whom he described as a man of accountability, transparency and discipline.

The remains of Azazi were interred at the Heroes' Memorial Park in Yenagoa.