Patrick Aziza, President General of the Urhobo Progress Union, UPU and retired military general is dead.
He passed on in Abuja on Saturday at the age of 67 after a protracted battle with cancer.
Confirming his demise, the Minister of Niger Delta Affairs, Dr. Steve Oru, described Aziza’s transition as very sad and shocking. “The Urhobo nation has lost a true son, a General indeed who had served the nation in the armed forces so successfully and at a point, he was even a minister in charge of communication in our nation and he performed creditably well.
“He emerged as the President General of UPU and he has been steering the ship of state of the Urhobo nation quite creditably. He has succeeded in promoting peace and unity amongst the Urhobo people. We will all surely miss him, but there is a time to come and a time to go as the saying goes. ‘There is a time when one is born and a time when one dies’.
“If it was possible, we would have prayed God to postpone his death. We all love him, but God loves him more and we wish him a peaceful rest in the bosom of the lord. He will be remembered for his astute management of the UPU and his performance as a very sound member of the Nigerian Army who served our nation creditably.
“He will surely be remembered for being a man that stood for the Urhobo course and promoted the emergence of an Urhobo minister because I can remember, during his first tenure he led a delegation to President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan to advocate for the appointment of an Urhobo son and today I am one of those that benefitted at the national level, so my missing him is even more.”
Senator representing Delta Central at the National Assembly, Senator Emmanuel Aguariavwodo described Aziza’s death as tragic and sad.
“It is so sad that we don’t even know what to think. We have talked to some of our leaders and everybody is still in shock. In fact there is nothing to say now except to say that we are sad, we mourn his passage and we pray that for the repose of his soul that God should accept his soul. Meanwhile we await what the family will say and what UPU will say so that we can all have a meeting on what to do next.
“He stood strongly for the unity of the Urhobo nation and he was a fine soldier, he served Nigeria very well. After all that, he came home to serve his people. He was a true servant of the people.”
Aziza’s, the first military Governor of Kebbi State, was born in Okpe local Government Area in Delta State on 23 December 1947, he was raised in Abakaliki, Ebonyi State and went to Ibadan for his secondary education before joining the army and participating in the Nigerian Civil War.
Aziza then attended the Nigeria Defence Academy, Kaduna, graduating in 1970 and was commissioned 2nd lieutenant and promoted to lieutenant in 1970, and was posted to the 3rd Marine Commando. In 1971, he was promoted to captain and was appointed ADC to the Chief of Army Staff, Major General David Ejoor.
Aziza was posted to Warri as a Battalion Commander, then promoted and posted to Kano as Brigade major. He attended the Command and Staff College, Jaji between 1978 and 1979, and was then posted to Army Headquarters responsible for movement and planning.
In this role, he handled troop movement planning for the Nigerian contingent in the United Nations’ operations, UNIFIL, in Lebanon. Aziza served in the Provisional Ruling Council.
Aziza was the Brigade Commander of the Amphibious Brigade in Calabar when he was appointed the first military administrator of Kebbi State, holding office from 28 August 1991 to January 1992, when he handed over to the elected civilian governor Abubakar Musa at the start of the aborted Nigerian Third Republic.
Aziza was a member of the group of officers that planned the coup in which General Sani Abacha took power and was Chairman of the Special Military Tribunal that convicted Olusegun Obasanjo and Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua for involvement in an alleged 1995 coup plot.
He was also head of a tribunal that tried six journalists for treason, based on publishing accounts of the coup. The trials were swift and the conclusion appeared to be decided in advance.
Aziza served as communications minister in the military regime of General Sani Abacha. In this role he revoked the licenses of 12 companies that had earlier been given the go-ahead to provide various telecommunications services.
In March 1998, Aziza said that Nigeria was seeking $6bn to “meet our immediate requirements of over three million telephone lines and 200,000 cellular lines.
He was appointed Minister of Commerce and Tourism during the transitional regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar.