By Nehi Igbinijesu
On December 16th 2012, General Owoye Andrew Azazi died in the company of Kaduna Governor, Patrick Yakowa. Both men were reported to have died in a helicopter crash around Nembe-Okoroba area of Bayelsa State.
General Owoye Azazi was born at Peretorugbene in the present day Bayelsa State on February 1 1952. He had his early education at Government College Bomadi in the defunct Bendel State, after which he proceeded to the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Combatant Cadet- Course 12 on July 3rd 1972.
Commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on December 14 1974, Owoye Azazi’s sterling performance did not go unnoticed. He served as Brigade Intelligence Officer, Divisional Intelligence Officer and Colonel Coordination, Headquarters Directorate of Military Intelligence. He served as Assistant Defence Attache at the Embassy of Nigeria Washington DC, United States from 1982 to 1985. He served as a member of the Directing Staff of the Command and Staff College from where he was posted to the Lagos Garrison Command as an Intelligence Officer and then, to the Directorate of Military Intelligence as Colonel Coordination. He was later reassigned to the Training and Doctrine Command as Colonel Research and Development and then as Director of Training from where he was sent to War College.
Upon his graduation from the War College, he was appointed Colonel General Staff, 81 Division of the Nigerian Army and later Deputy Chief of Defence Intelligence, Defence Intelligence Agency. General Azazi also served as a member of Directing Staff of the National War College Abuja, rising later to become Principal Staff Officer Coordination. He was appointed Director of Military Intelligence in 2003.
He was an external examiner at the National War College and a Guest Lecturer on Military Operations Other Than War and Revolution in Military Affairs. General Azazi was a member of Nigeria’s Defence Policy Review Committee 2000/2001 and chaired the Committee of the Nigeria Army in the Next Decade in May 2004.
General Azazi was appointed the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division, Nigeria Army in January 2005 and Chief of Army Staff in June 2006. In May 2007, former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo appointed him Chief of Defence Staff of Nigeria. The General retired in 2008 but was called out of retirement in 2010 when he was appointed National Security Adviser (NSA) by President Goodluck Jonathan.
General Owoye Azazi enjoyed one of the fastest military careers, rising to the very zenith of it. Till date, he remains the only Army Officer from the South-South geopolitical zone to attain the rank of General and the only Southerner to occupy the Office of the National Security Adviser.
An avid reader, a doting family man, a sharp dresser and a thorough-bred soldier is how many remember him. In death, General Owoye Azazi stands out as a sterling epitome of professional excellence. His contributions to professionalising the Nigerian Army will not be forgotten soon.
Adieu General Owoye Andrew Azazi.