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DON'T JUDGE AZAZI BY DISTORTED PRISMS

By NBF News
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'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. That created the climate for what is happening. Is it possible that somebody was thinking that only Mr. A could win, and if he did not win, he could cause a problem in the society?'

The ensuing reaction is more of logical confusion, displayed with a complex portrayal of varying degrees of perception, bias and even, deliberate distortion of facts. Indeed, those in government as well as the opposition: those in support and those who are anti-Azazi have all found something to lay hands on in projecting disparate views, at times to equally incongruent audiences.

In the litany of reactions that greeted Azazi's statement, efforts have been made to bend logic. In some cases, the bitter nature of truth has led to its firm rejection even by the people who need to appreciate it the most. These developments notwithstanding, some have counselled about the need to look critically at the import of the message, even without giving much credit to the messenger whose penetrating perceptions has caused unease in certain quarters.

For instance, the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum (AYCF) president, Alhaji Yerima Shettima asserts: 'Azazi's office is not political. He owes a duty to Nigeria. The security issue makes the survival of the nation more important than a political party. Nigerians are all aware of comments made during elections by some politicians who felt that because they lost their chances for the presidency, they would make the nation ungovernable

'We cannot continue to run the nation like a banana republic. In other climes, people who make such inflammatory political comments would be first to be picked for investigations and questioning. Azazi was appointed by a PDP-led government. For him to boldly make such allegations knowing the implications is enough reason for the nation to support him in doing whatever it takes to bring those involved to book.'

Christian Association of Nigeria's Assistant Secretary-General in the 19 Northern States and Abuja, Rev. Cornelius Fawenu, also made his comment: 'The cure to any ailment starts with proper diagnosis and doctors need not to be afraid of telling their patients the causes of their problems. Azazi should therefore be commended and not condemned for his forthrightness. It is the lack of Azazi's kind of forthrightness, to call a spade a spade, that continues to allow impunity to thrive in the nation. All honest Nigerians should appeal to Jonathan to resist any attempt to remove Azazi on the account of his courage to speak the truth.'

At the other end of the spectrum is the uninhibited and decidedly antagonistic position of those calling for Azazi's head. Those in this group include a former governor of old Kaduna State, Alhaji Abdulkadir Balarabe Musa, Congress for Progressive Change and the Campaign for Democracy. Expectedly, nobody appears to be more livid than the PDP, given the statement ascribed to its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh.

Former chairman of the Ijaw National Congress, Mr. Denzil Kentebe, however, said that those calling for the resignation of Azazi were pursuing selfish and ethnic agenda: 'What then has the general said that has made the demand for his resignation a common talk? The President himself said early in the year that there are members of Boko Haram in his government. Are members of his government not also PDP members?'

Nevertheless, the question needs to be asked: Was Azazi wrong in saying PDP placed its conventions above the Constitution? To ordinary citizens, he appears to be clear and unambiguous about the undemocratic practices of PDP and the resulting consequences. Just last month, a major stakeholder, former President Ibrahim Babangida rated PDP undemocratic after its national convention that produced national officers. Although the party is only toeing the same path it has followed since inception, there are indications that a continuation of certain patterns of behaviour may not help the nation's increasing political temperature.

Socrates, the great Greek thinker once cautioned that an unexamined life may not be worth living but there are politicians who would rather preserve fiefdoms and bury their heads in the sand in ostrich fashion without seeing the import of examining issues from another perspective.

Nonetheless, there is hope that some people are still working towards resolving the country's current ugly security situation. At the South-South Economic Summit, the NSA explained the multidimensional challenges involved in tackling Boko Haram: 'The situations that created the problems are not just about the religion, poverty or the desire to rule Nigeria. I think it is a combination of everything; except you address all those things comprehensively, it would not work. It is not enough for us to have a problem in 2009 and you send soldiers to stop the situation, driving all those involved underground. You must look at what structures you need to put in place to address the problem holistically.'

In spite of all the ugly incidents across the country, there is still cause for hope that the strong, resilient spirit of Nigeria will overcome its current challenges. Azazi has only tried to open up where others in such a comfort zone would rather keep quiet. Demonising him would not solve the problem and that is why those concerned should ignore the messenger and examine the veracity or otherwise of his message. That may just be the fisrt step to the path of sanity!

*Babs Iyiola lives in Lagos.