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Aminu Tambuwwal and PDP’s zoning banana peel: Slippery wages of expediency

By Is’haq Modibbo Kawu
SURELY we cannot continue to allow individuals and groups to do what they liked and undermine our unity, cohesion and effectiveness. Henceforth, we shall not condone acts of indiscipline in our party”. – Acting PDP National Chairman, Dr. Haliru Bello

The PDP’s Dr. Haliru Bello may be excused his views about party discipline, but his effort to Photoshop PDP’s history, and by extension Nigeria’s, in recent months, must be challenged. The new found love for discipline seems to be a post-election phenomenon.

All of a sudden, President Goodluck Jonathan found new romance with the erstwhile taboo word of zoning, in the prebendal sharing of the loot of power, after he was “freed and faired” by INEC. The politician is often clever by a half, and wont to assume that others must either be stupid or not overtly bothered about the defining narratives of the political process.

When Chief Vincent Ogbulafor committed the faux pas of reminding party members, that according to extant agreements, power was to remain in Northern Nigeria, he received a short shrift from Jonathan.

An obscure corruption allegation was exhumed to force the man out of power. In came a gung-ho Dr. Okwesileze Nwodo, who made it clear that he was on a mission as PDP’s Chairman, to effectively kill zoning, to the satisfaction of Goodluck Jonathan, who had seized the levers of power by the scruff of the neck: stealthy here, capricious there! The president would be PDP’s candidate, and therefore no appeals to party agreements mattered.

If Jonathan carried a moral burden of having signed at the 2002 expanded PDP caucus meeting, which upheld rotation of power between the South and the North, he felt no obligations to that elite consensus. His ambition for power, trounced everything else! So Jonathan’s camp pulled all stops to achieve its aims: threats were issued by Niger Delta thugs, better known as militants; abuses were hauled by Chief EK Clarke; and a media lynch mob was recruited.

There was an unconscionable deployment of money as everybody was assumed to have a price along with a total propaganda onslaught: zoning was dead. All who spoke for upholding respect of zoning were tarred with the brush of “regional” chauvinism; even a divine origin was constructed for Jonathan’s earthly political ambition, befitting Nigeria’s penchant for metaphysical mumbo-jumbo.

Zoning died
So if zoning died in order for President Goodluck Jonathan to be PDP’s candidate and then be “freed and faired” into power, how come it suddenly found a new lease of life? Why the double standards being imposed by President Jonathan and the PDP leadership? Why have all those who spoke out against zoning a few months ago, decided not to see, hear or speak, now that zoning was suddenly back in vogue?

Why did they lose the ability to be indignant at the injustice of enforcing party “discipline”, when it deserted long ago, in the shape of Goodluck’s presidential ambition? Why insist members of the House of Representatives choose a Speaker from the Southwest, because the position had been “zoned” there? While having nothing against a Speaker from the Southwest, I nevertheless think it was fraudulent to use standards which Goodluck Jonathan and the PDP apparatchik were imposing!

In a matter like this, I seek your pardon to use an erotic illustration. Zoning, in the wake of Goodluck’s ambition, was tossed into a dustbin, rather like people are wont, a used condom; right? Well, no one in his senses will seek that a used condom be brought back to operational existence! If zoning was dead; and it was the platform which got Goodluck Jonathan “freed and faired” into power, then let no one, not even President Jonathan, tell us to rummage through the dustbin to recover a used political condom.

No! It is a most unacceptable way of conducting the serious business of building a country. The appropriate interrogation for Dr .Haliru Bello is very simple: when did the PDP arrive at its resolve not to “continue to allow INDIVIDUALS and groups to DO WHAT THEY LIKED (the capital is mine)”? Was it before Goodluck tore into shreds the agreement to zone power, or after? If it was BEFORE, then the party was complicit in “condon[ing an act] of indiscipline”, by the president. And once that was allowed to pass, the party lost its moral force.

The PDP’s self-serving horse of “discipline” bolted long ago, and it is a futile attempting to close the barn now.  In employing naked intimidation to impose a Speaker on the House, they went completely overboard! By abandoning all pretences at respect for democratic decency, the PDP stepped on political banana peels, risking serious injuries. Aminu Tambuwwal’s emergence as House Speaker exploded their hypocrisy.

PDP must still come to terms with the consequences of Goodluck Jonathan’s ambition: it polarised the party and has divided and endangered our country. One day zoning was dead, because it suited his purposes and the next day, zoning got a kiss of life to satisfy a new set of ambitions. The PDP mandarins have been less than honest from the beginning; that is why zoning returned to haunt them, big time.

Kaduna curfew is no  longer necessary

Kaduna was at the heart of the grievances associated with the last presidential election. The reasons for this are several. Kaduna retains a unique place as capital of the old Northern Region. Many of the important Northern institutions have remained central to the socio-economic and cultural life of the city.

It retains lasting political influence, as place of habitation for several individuals who held important positions in different regimes-military and civilian. Kaduna is the heartbeat of Northern political aspirations; where the North converges to chart a path through its discomfiting disadvantages in the Nigerian scheme of things, especially since the 1999 transition, with the anti-North proclivities of the old despot, Olusegun Obasanjo.

Kaduna has not lost its place at the heart of the Northern enterprise, even with states creation from 1967. It remains the Regional hub, in political, cultural and even sentimental senses. And this is the heart of the matter, because Northerners retain affection for the city that other regional capitals of Ibadan, Enugu or Benin City, do not possess. Let me use myself as an example.

I work in Abuja; my house is in Ilorin and my family resides in Kaduna! The relatively short distance from Abuja also increased Kaduna’s attractiveness. As capital of Kaduna State, there is an underlining push-and-pull about Kaduna in the local politics of the state. Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa’s emergence as first governor from southern Kaduna only accentuated that factor.

Back to my point about Kaduna’s centrality to Northern grievances during the last election; especially the presidential. It is Muhammadu Buhari’s place of residence; he is very popular in the city and a combination of circumstances which conditioned the elections, made him the locus of Northern hope for presidency.

When INEC ‘freed and faired’ Goodluck Jonathan into power, the seething feeling of anger against the perceived injustice of the process busted at the seams, leading to attacks against the Northern political and traditional elite.

It was that way, until agents provocateurs were triggered to attack mosques and churches, in order to change the character of the uprising. That provided the excuse to impose the curfew which facilitated the rigging of governorship elections in Northern Nigeria, and the return of PDP governors.

PDP governors have been “freed and faired” back to power; violence has disappeared and these governors have commenced the sharing of the “victory” loot; but the curfew in Kaduna has remained in force. For all reasonable intents and purposes, the curfew has become redundant. People are not planning new demonstrations; Yakowa sits pretty; but life is uncomfortable.

Again, I will use my family as an example. Two weeks ago, one of my children fell sick at night and it was so serious, that my wife had to take her to hospital at about eight. It took over one hour to see the doctor, get her injections and then drive back home during curfew hours; a scary experience which other residents can connect to.  An emergency during curfew hours is a danger to family life in Kaduna.

Then there are the conspiracy theories: that there is a grand plan to destroy economic life in Kaduna, the way that Terminus Market in Jos was deliberately destroyed, because the controlling economic groups happened to be Hausa, Fulani and Kanuri. From about five pm, people begin to hit the roads, to be able to arrive at their destinations before the commencement of the curfew.

That heightens gridlock on Kaduna roads, while economic life hangs. If this goes on longer, the economic situation will deteriorate. Where people feel a sense of political injustice, please give them a sense of belonging by restituting their economic livelihood.  Governor Yakowa should lift the curfew to return normalcy. The curfew is no longer helping Kaduna.

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