I started my usual sickness this year with a piece ‘Our Hopes for 2011…’ As far as I am concerned, there were only two significant statements in that op/ed. One, that I will not join Nigerians in wishing anyone a Happy New Year. I also said that I will not do this because I was afraid for my country. The reason for this fear was that some of my friends had managed to convince me that this millennium is the millennium for the opposition. They cited Obama’s victory in the US; they cited countries like Ghana, Sierra Leone, Guinea where the opposition won, and recently, Ivory Coast, where the incumbent is behaving like a typical African leader. So, my reasoning was that if this is what is really going to happen, we were in hot soup. The second thing I said was that I would pray more for my country because of the insufferable intolerances we experience each day.
One of the ‘insufferable intolerances’ that I said we have experienced as Nigerians was zoning and I described it as a political clone that recognizes its father in IBB. For me, the bombs that were flying around, the killings that wore the hood of religion, and the kidnappings that resonated across the land, were all symptomatic of the disease brought by the zoning clone. If zoning was ‘a gentleman’s’ agreement in one of the parties, what had that got to do with the rest of us? In that article, I held IBB responsible for orchestrating a non-issue and using it to fan the embers of sectionalism, ethnic sentiments and diminishing his esteemed value as a Nigerian statesman.
One of my readers attacked me via text messages. I have decided to reproduce, unedited, our exchange:
Reader: ‘IBB made zoning an issue? What about the d PDP zoning enshrine in it policy? What dos fedral caractr comissn aim at? Or ar u mor PDP dan d PDP menbas or ar u mor a gearge dan d CURT of competent wic also provd d existens of dis zoning? Wea were u wen GEJ & Co sign on dis zoning? Wat kep u hostage or kidnapd even murdered ur sensibty is dis Machiavelist opotunistic premature powr hungry of dis dishonorabl ungodly dejected GEJ. U will all be tought a lessing at Pri. Dea is pastor I read yesterday in Daily Sun sayin God should 2011 elec 4 GEJ. Dis ar d disease we hav in d entire Africa. U pple have lost ur humanity.
Bob: Haba oga, you sound like Boko Haram…! Are you?
Reader: So it has alwys been wen evr u pple ar cornered exposed 2d facts on grown & u bcom speechless, U always resort 2 name calling, fanatics, pondamentalis or even teroris. Dis ar ur nature. Wen d Nigr deltans repeatedly mde a vabal threat, dea wil be No Nigeria ovr&ovr again Nothing wron wit dat? Even a formr Minitrfrm d same area once sid dey wil secede shul GEJ not alawd 2 cntinue wich means even 2d detriment of d Nig law. U see all dis tins ar les than threat confere 2 IBB Atiku’s innocent expresn of violent changein d absence of peaceful change? Pls checkmate ur Humanity coc it’s long gone maby beyond remedy
Bob: My friend, this is too much. Let’s not fight over this matter. We write what we write in the interest of our country’s peace and progress…!
Reader: Maybe u shul consult widely b4 u go bursting abt neighboulines in suc a sentimental sefcentred & anti North mannr 4 public consumtn. Y don’t u also include in ur piece d mass murderas of Oct 2010 blast & d Mogadishu terrosm in Abuja wic MEND papetrated? Cos u ar a religious bigot so only d boko Haram isur problem. Even in North dey ar our problem wic u knw it, but u don’t enjoy callg MEND terrorist even though dey ar d first 2b unmasked in Abuja terrorist activity, but ontil now coms aprihensn in d land by u GEJ ETC eit d emrgens of bokoharam. Ur writins is pures maopics & irritating I have com across.
Bob: But zoning is not in the Nigerian constitution. Nobody operates zoning in the world.
Reader: D proponents of zoning hav since produced d minutes of a PDP National Caucus metg arown 2001/2002dat zoning be rotated b/w d North 7 South. Dos upholding d zoning like it or not dey ar 2day d geates men of honour & truth. It is upon dis QUID PRO QUO dat relatnship in societies & communities ar based. Evil is all of pastos GEJ’s etc 4 goin against d only reason dat mke Nig an indivisible nation & riskd d life of N150 Mmillion pple. So GEJ & all of you evils & ur plagrant abuse of group agreement wil b eternally penalized & digres 4 everbody 2 see God willing.
Bob: I am not on anyone’s payroll. I write to better my country. I will be doing a piece next week. Could we meet, get your side and publish it?
Reader: Watever u may write nx wk cul nevr be consumabl wit any sibilized mind. In a country of a 150m pple wit deferent consep, we have a problem coming frm som sef proclaim Muslem secs clld Boko Haram & d ocean of Christian Ngr Delta Democratic milisia, DDM, MEND etc all of dem also terrorist, suc threators ar always ignored but d othr side is always champion in ur maopics writins. So 4get it all of you GEJ & all d others who lack a simple human foresight cos u have nothg to contribute here.
From this point, I decided to ignore this esteemed reader. But 24 hours to the January 13, 2011 PDP Special convention at the Eagle Square in Abuja, he sent a text thus: D only man wic is d only aror head of GEJ is sacked. D luck wil follow dis nigth.
After the convention, I did not hear any more from this esteemed reader. I have no interest in gloating at the death of zoning, but I want us all to replace ‘communism’ with ‘zoning’ in this speech by George, Bush, 41st US President: ‘We gather tonight at a dramatic and deeply promising time in our history and in the history of man on earth. From the past 12 months, the world has known changes of almost biblical proportions. And even now, months after the failed coup that doomed the failed system, I am not sure that we’ve absorbed the full impact, the full import of what happened: that communism [zoning] died this year!’