Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Nigeria: Azazi pours fuel on the fire in PDP's North-South divide

The National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen Andrew Owoye Azazi (rtd), is in hot water over recent public statements arguing that the lack of internal democracy in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is at the root of the increasing threat posed by Boko Haram. Azazi, who made the claim at the South-South Economic Summit organised by the South-South Governors during the past week, stated: “PDP got it wrong from the beginning, from the onset by saying Mr A can rule, Mr B cannot rule...according to PDP's convention, rules and regulations and not according to the constitution and that created the climate for what has manifest itself, this way [sic]”.

Azazi also implied that certain elements within the party, disgruntled over President Jonathan's succession, led to the escalation of the Boko Haram violence. It may be recalled that in the politically tense days leading up to the PDP's selection of Jonathan as its candidate for the April 2011 presidential elections, there had been “threats” from some aggrieved quarters that, if Jonathan emerged as head of state, the country would be made ungovernable. This was a response to the widespread northern views that Jonathan's emergence was against the interests of the North and that the PDP's 'zoning' arrangement meant that a Northerner ought to be president from 2007-2015.

Azazi pointed to an October 2010 statement which was credited to Lawal Kaita, a prominent member of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) - one of the foremost Northern socio-political groups - proclaiming that "anything short of a Northern President is tantamount to stealing our presidency. Jonathan has to go and he will go”.

Azazi went on to state that the Boko Haram threat did not escalate to the point it is at now until after the 2011 general elections. He traced the escalation in its activities to the deadly suppression of riots in the North in the aftermath of the polls.

During a visit to the bombed offices of This Day on 26 April, the President was asked what he thought about the NSA's comments. He stated that it was possible that the NSA was misinterpreted. Jonathan is also reported to have demanded a full transcript of the NSA's statements.

The party has already refuting Azazi's claims with the PDP National Publicity Secretary Olisa Metuh berating him for making them. Reports have claimed that the President has since been under immense pressure to sack Azazi.

For more news and expert analysis about Nigeria, please see Nigeria Focus and Nigeria Politics & Security.

© 2012 Menas Associates

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