He began his early education in old Bendel State of Nigeria where he attended Government College Bomadi and graduated in the class of 1968, after which he joined the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Combatant Cadet Course 12 in July 1972.
General Azazi held an MSc in Strategic Studies from the University of Ibadan, and completed the Staff Intelligence and Security Course, School of Service Intelligence, Ashford, Kent, United Kingdom and Combined Strategic Intelligence Training Programme, Defence Intelligence College, Washington DC, United States. He is a graduate of the Armed Forces Command and Staff College Nigeria, and the National War College, Nigeria where he won the President and Commander-in-Chief's merit award for best all round performance.
Azazi was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on 14 December 1974. At the end of the combined training he won the bronze medal for being first in Art subjects. He has served as a Brigade Intelligence Officer, Divisional Intelligence Officer and Colonel Coordination, Headquarters Directorate of Military Intelligence. He was assistant Defence Attaché at the Embassy of Nigeria, Washington DC, United States for three years. He served as a member of the Directing Staff of the Command and Staff College from where he was posted to Lagos Garrison Command as the Intelligence Officer and subsequently to the Directorate of Military Intelligence as Colonel Coordination. He was later posted to the Training and Doctrine Command as Colonel Research and Development and then Director of Training. On graduation from 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 its 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. He was appointed Chairman of the Committee of Nigerian Army in the Next Decade in May 2004. He was appointed the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 1 Division, Nigerian Army in January 2005, and subsequently appointed Chief of Army Staff (COAS) in June 2006.
On 20 August 2008 Umaru Yar'Adua replaced Azazi with Paul Dike as CDS and announced Azazi's retirement from military service.
Azazi had for some time had one of the fastest growing military careers in the history of present day democratic Nigeria, between May, 2006 and June, 2007 the General had worn the ranks of Major General, Lieutenant General and General.
Azazi emerged from retirement to assume the National Security Adviser (NSA) post as a civilian. He inherited a range of challenges from extremists, including the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) in his native region, and the rise of a new violent Islamist group called Boko Haram, which first emerged in 2009.
His recent seminar and conference highlights include: Keynote speaker at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies,National Defence University, Washington DC, January 2009.
Addressed a Seminar at the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, National Defence University, Washington DC, September 2008 on Defense Transformation in Africa.
Participant at the Forum on African Exit Strategies, Institute for Higher National Defence Studies (IHEDN), Paris, June 2004.
Member Curriculum Review Workshop for Senior Leadership Seminar on the Africa Centre for Strategic Studies/National Defence University, USA.
Facilitator, Seminar on Energy and Security in Africa March 2005.
Participant in the OECD/DAC Workshop on Security System Reforms held in Ghana in December 2005
(His recent seminar and conference highlights include: Key...)
He his best known for his fight against religious misunderstanding between the different religious faith in Nigeria. He said religious and political violence has characterised Nigeria since we became politically independent in 1960.
Shortly after taking office, Azazi presided over the interception and public exposure of a large illegal shipment of weapons from the Islamic Republic of Iran. He did not speculate publicly on the origin of the weapons, and left it up to the Foreign Ministry to make the official allegation before the United Nations. News accounts differ as to the destination of the arms, with Israeli reports saying they were headed for Gaza, and others, including Nigerian government sources, saying they were to be smuggled elsewhere in West Africa, including to rebels based in Senegal and Gambia. Nigerian officials arrested an Iranian national reported to be a senior officer with the Qods Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and placed him on trial. The Iranian government called the shipments a “misunderstanding.”
Azazi had taken a systematic approach to reform of Nigeria’s security and intelligence apparatus, with a low-key demeanor that some critics have termed as indifference. He had been quoted as saying that real reform comes with human development of national security personnel and officials and greater citizen participation, and not with mere documents, statements, and bureaucratic or leadership rearrangements.
“It is not enough for us to have a problem in 2009 and you send soldiers to stop the situation, then tomorrow you drive everybody underground. You must look at what structures you need to put in place to address the problem holistically. There are economic problems in the North, which are not the exclusive prerogative of the Northerners. We must solve our problems as a country.”
“To solve the problem, we must have the political will to deal with whoever is using resource of state to procure arms for the unemployed to use them for all kind of purposes, including the manipulation of elections."
“We must unbundle the federal government, make a new revenue allocation formula that gives more monies to the states and local governments to face development at the grassroots while the federal government would be allowed to face security, to guarantee sustainable development.”
Physical Characteristics: He is of the Black race, and a little bit plump.
Azazi was married with five children, three sons-in-law, two daughters-in-law, a grand daughter and two grandsons.
Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic (CFR)
Grand Service Star (GSS)
Distinguished Service Star (DSS)
Meritorious Service Star (MSS)
Force Service Star (FSS)
Corps Medal of Honour (CMH)
Pass Staff Course Dagger (PSC+)
National Defence College Dagger (NDC+)
President and Commander in Chief's Merit Award