The National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Andrew Owoeye Azazi, stirred the hornest nest at the recently concluded South South Economic Summit in Asaba, the Delta State capital, when he blamed the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the present state of insecurity in the country, in particular, the unrelenting bombings in the North, by the radical Islamic sect, Boko Haram.
In his speech which at best was an expression of deep seated frustration, yet a clear and unequivocal indictment of government's seeming incapability to deal decisively with the sect, the NSA, whose office has not been spared of criticisms on the spate of bombings by the fundamentalist religious sect, laid the greater part of the security challenges on the zoning principles of PDP. According to him, there was need to understand the root of the present state of security instead of a fire-brigade approach.
In his words, 'we do not need to politicize the security challenge on our hand, and most people are not comfortable with me when I say that the PDP is to be blamed for some of these problems.' The PDP, he asserted, got it wrong from the beginning by claiming that its convention and rules state that a person can rule and that another person cannot. The NSA was apparently making reference to the relevant sections of the party's constitution which endorse zoning arrangement for the selection of its presidential candidate.
Expectedly, Azazi's comments have drawn the ire of the PDP, and a matured response from President Goodluck Jonathan. The party, obviously rattled, made a big issue out of Azazi's comments, saying it was unbecoming of someone appointed at the behest of the ruling party. The party therefore called on the President to remove him as the National Security Adviser. However, the President's response to NSA's statement was rather measured, and non-committal. Nonetheless, he urged those in sensitive public positions to weigh their comments carefully, especially on issues that touch at the nexus of national consciousness.
Since the NSA made his controversial comment in Asaba, many Nigerians, including opposition political parties, have joined the fray. Some have called for Azazi's sack, while others have praised his boldness in speaking up on such a sticky issue of security challenge posed by Boko Haram's repeated attacks. We view Azazi's comment as a new twist in the tail in the entire Boko Haram saga which has resulted in the wanton destruction of life and property, especially in the Northern part of the country.
Indeed, the NSA's perspective on PDP zoning principle has added an interesting dimension to the Boko Haram insurgency. What the National Security Adviser has done was to confirm the fears of many that, indeed, there is a political undertone behind the senseless attacks by Boko Haram.
Even if what the NSA said is interpreted as a freudian slip, or better still, a speech of a frustrated man, lacking solution to Boko Haram, it takes courage to see the facts behind the evil veil of Boko Haram. What Azazi said comes close to the threats earlier made in Jonathan Presidency by some prominent Northern politicians to make the country ungovernable for the President, should he mount the saddle, contrary to their expectation. Their anger is that the party's zoning arrangement was jettisoned to favour Jonathan.
We recall one of such incendiary threats by Alhaji Lawal Kaita on October 12, 2010. Alhaji Kaita had threatened that the North was determined to make Nigeria ungovernable for President Jonathan or any southerner who found his way to the seat of power on the platform of the PDP against the party's zoning principle.
Today, whether by coincidence or orchestrated plots, Boko Haram has become the biggest security challenge facing Jonathan's administration. Sadly, it seems the president has been overwhelmed by that challenge.
Rather than vilify Azazi, we urge the President to ignore the calls by his party (PDP) to sack the NSA and look deep into the issues the NSA raised in his speech. This is the time to rise to the occasion of the serious security challenges. It is not the time to look for scape goats. Azazi's message should be seen for what it is - a wake-up call to rise to the menace posed by Boko Haram.