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Frisky Larr (M. A.)

Radio/Television Journalist/Communication Scientist, Govt. accredited Translator/Interpreter of the English language
Judicially sworn interpreter of English (Regional Court of Bochum)

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The Zoning Poison and the Risk of Balkanizing Nigeria

by Frisky Larr

If for the sole purpose of proving the point that Nigeria belongs to us all – north and south – and that rulership is not the birthright of the northern mafia alone, who seeks to fight tooth and nail to dominate the country, I will urge Jonathan to run and damn the consequences.

Kill Jonathan and face the consequences! The Republic of Warri or The Republic of Bayelsa will no longer be unimaginable phenomena. After all, Europe has such city-states like Lichtenstein and San Marino!



Never in the history of Nigeria has a clause in the constitution of a single political party become such a lethal and volatile minefield that is strongly seeking to explode on the corporate existence of the already fragile union. Never in history has Nigeria been so exposed to the project of a desperate stranglehold on the nerves of its roots by a determined geographical mafia fighting for a sustained power status. Never too, has the identity of this desperate mafia and its desperate godfathers has been so hopelessly laid bare than it is today in the wake of the national debate on the zoning poison.


When the issue of succession came up at the collapse of the third term bid by General Olusegun Obasanjo as President in the democratic experiment, many blamed the General for not grooming a successor through his good eight years at the peak of this populous nation. The President made a hasty firework of domestic diplomatic consultations and Jeannie was conjured out of the bottle sitting on the throne at the State House in Katsina. Many cried foul because General Obasanjo seemed to have crucified most of his opponents at the time on a virile double-cross. Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was credible enough to dissuade another erstwhile General to launch a face-saving retreat. On this day it was, that the then dissident Vice President Atiku Abubakar knew that his position in the active determination of the course of events in the body politics of Nigeria was being counted out. "Powerful” northern backgrounders also launched a silent retreat to restrategize. Time revealed what their strategy was.

Umaru Musa Yar’Adua simply had to strike a deal. It was a deal that reassured the backgrounders that the dominance of the North in the running of Nigerian political affairs will be reinstated after eight years of daring and perfidious rearrangement in the spirit of the Federal character. All that followed in the form of amateurish policy reversals, appointments into strategic positions without caring for geographical distribution, etc. is now history. The man died! It was death in the valley of fate and the fate was the destiny of our dearest nation.

Sometime in the nineteen eighties, the phrase “Kaduna Mafia” was talk of the town and on everybody’s lips. The phrase never had a face for public identification. But news made the round somehow in the spirit of perfidy, that the Kaduna Mafia was the heart of Nigerian politics, without which any act in the art of leadership may survive the test of crucial times.

The events that however unfolded in the run-up to the demise of Umaru Musa Yar’Adua brought us many steps closer to the age-long mystery of the so-called Kaduna Mafia. Then, they were called "The Cabal”! We thought we knew them all. Indeed, we thought we had seen everything.

Today, we can understand and speculate on what indeed transpired behind the iron curtains in the debate on 122/3 in the year 1979. It is no longer far-fetched to understand that on no account, was the Southerner Obafemi Awolowo to be allowed to succeed another Southerner General Olusegun Obasanjo who fate catapulted to the realms of glory with the hands of the Kaduna Mafia virtually tied. It didn’t seem to have mattered then that Obafemi Awolowo was the more qualified candidate to steer the course of Nigeria’s destiny. What seemed to have mattered was to keep the power equilibrium slanted northwards.

There was obviously no way Olusegun Obasanjo could have been denied succession to the assassinated Murtala Muhammed of blessed memory without causing uproar in the hierarchy and upsetting the smooth-sailing course of the mafia manipulations. The trick seemed perfect and obviously worked without blemishes. Olusegun Obasanjo – even though superficially the Head of State – was then made to serve virtually under the leadership of the duo named Theophillus Danjuma and Shehu Musa Yar’Adua. Obasanjo was therefore, a tried and tested figure in the art of Puppet Management.

There were no challenges. No dissent either. The popular level of enlightenment was yet marginal. Moreover, the bid to keep northern influence above all else was not as blatant and arrogantly flagrant as it has become today. The difference? If you ask me, the position is now seriously threatened.

It started with the cabal that the backgrounders installed beside Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. They were certain, that the process of reversing Obasanjo’s demolition of the northern influence and the impacts of the mafia that was now, no longer based in Kaduna alone, would be a gradual process that was to be completed in a minimum period of eight years. Occasional outcries against regional and geographical marginalization were expected and they were simply poised to weather the storm and proceed with the marching orders. Unfortunately though, they reckoned that the President’s health would survive the eight strenuous years of dubious complicity.

When it became obvious however that the President was steadily on his way to the realms beyond, desperation became crass, flagrant and shamelessly disrespectful. The Vice President of the time Goodluck Jonathan, had hitherto been regarded by the cabal – playing the script of the backgrounders –as a simple decorative non-starter and the constitution was obviously a trash of academic hullabaloos compiled and authored by a bunch of ego-soothing Wisenheimers in their search for relevance.

We thought we knew the traitors. We pounced on the Aondoakaas and the Turais and a bunch of copycat vuvuzela blowers! The constitutionally inevitable had to happen unless they killed Jonathan.

For the second time in a short period, the military did not dare to execute a perfected coup plan. The world had warned military leaders at the end of 2008 as information made the round that a coup was imminent. The risk of ruling in pageantry and ending up in The Hague like Charles Taylor, became a dreadful lever to deter the courageous risk of “Fellow Nigerians…”! Suddenly Barack Obama realized his mistake in sidelining Nigeria to visit Ghana in his maiden call on Africa as a serving Head of State. Even though it was made to teach Nigerian leaders a lesson that they deserved, it was nonetheless strengthening the encapsulation of the northern mafia. Nigeria became the scene of intense diplomatic activities.

In the end, the constitution prevailed when the man ultimately died. Jonathan became the President. Immediately after, the battlefront shifted and the actors simply became different.

There was no more Aondoakaa! There was no more Turai Yar’Adua! Suddenly the battlefront shifted. No more Legalese! No more housewife rule on visits to an ailing husband. The battle immediately shifted to succession. Succession to the throne that Jonathan had barely ascended! The new kids on the block suddenly became Ibrahim Bademosi Babangida, the Sarakis and a host of other copycat vuvuzela fellas.

The issue became zoning. It doesn’t seem to matter that this zoning issue is an intra-party issue predicated on a clause in the PDP constitution that openly violates the constitution of the country. Definitely no! It is important enough to have other northern governors who are not even members of the PDP voice their support for the zoning arrangement.

The face of the present debate is now Ibrahim Babangida who surprisingly, was also a quiet and background player at the time Nigeria became the scene of a flurry of international diplomatic activities to avert a military coup while Yar’Adua was in Saudi Arabia. Visiting envoys mediating between the Jonathan camp and the northern backgrounders frequently called on Ibrahim Bademosi Babangida in unexplained clandestine roles.

Now that Aondoakaa is no more, the backgrounders seem to be doing the dirty job more on their own than through proxies and surrogates.

The common trait that today shares with yesterday when the cabal reigned supreme, is the desperate bid to keep the north empowered. The arguments employed are different from time to time. While the constitutional limitations on the exercise of Vice Presidential powers in the absence of the President dominated yesterday and kept the northern cabal calling the shots in the name of the dying Yar’Adua, today it is zoning as entrenched in the internal constitution of the PDP that is the last hope of running business as usual under the leadership of gun-wielding, gworo-chewing peasant cattle rearers.

This is the reason I am surprised that several intellectual role models of academic acclaim shortsightedly advance cogent reasons these days to dissuade Jonathan from running for President. They argue principally on the filth in the system and the PDP that will inadvertently compromise Jonathan’s credibility as an achiever.

Unfortunately however, all the parties are run in the same old filth. The actors are products of the same old filthy system – PDP or not. Should this be a reason to willfully surrender to the aggressive northern drive of perpetually enslaving the rest of the nation after so many years of rulership and nothing to show? Should this be a reason to resign to our fate and sellout to IBB to proceed with the same old tricks in the system to which filth he contributed immensely either as a direct and indirect leader, coup plotter and mafia backgrounder?

Definitely no! Today, the nation is on the brink and waiting for a lethal catalyst. Invisible military groups are nurtured in regional hideouts and kept alive with armed robbery and kidnappings. The opponents are intransigent. Thank goodness the Jonathan camp seems determined to pick up the gauntlet and stand up to the challenge.

If the ultimate risk of tearing Nigeria apart does not dawn on the northerners who are clearly the aggressors in this case, then so be Nigeria’s destiny.

If for the sole purpose of proving the point that Nigeria belongs to us all – north and south – and that rulership is not the birthright of the northern mafia alone, who seeks to fight tooth and nail to dominate the country, I will urge Jonathan to run and damn the consequences.

Kill Jonathan and face the consequences! The Republic of Warri or The Republic of Bayelsa will no longer be unimaginable phenomena. After all, Europe has such city-states like Lichtenstein and San Marino!  



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