By NBF News

I have listened to argument for and against zoning from both the North and South. I have equally read volumes of newspaper comments on the issue.

Since the zoning debate is between the North and the South, let me remind the North certain facts which they forgot to consider and which makes the South eligible to rule Nigeria for a change.

Since 1960, when we had independence, the North has been running the show in Nigeria mainly through coups and counter coups. Nobody from the South challenged them. Over a dozen religious riots have occurred in the North that claimed thousands of innocent lives and billions of Naira worth of properties.

Before Obasanjo's Presidency, there was not a single church building in the whole of Aso Rock complex, whereas there are four mosques in the same place. It was Obasanjo that built one when he didn't see where to worship- yet Nigeria is secular state.

Against all political calculation and permutations the North brought Obasanjo out of prison to the Presidency, with hope he will serve their interest. It was when Obasanjo started acting like a loosed canon, that they became dumbfounded because he was their creation. When Yar Adua was hospitalized and incapacitated, the North turned logic upside down by refusing to accept the simple constitutional fact that there is a leadership vacuum which the vice-president need to fill. It was with pressure and near anarchy that they reluctantly agreed to allow Jonathan become Acting President.

There are so many things the North has gotten away with since Independence which no Southerner or the South as a whole, can try. Just because power changed hands to the South under 10 years, and through divine intervention, the North is raising so much dust as if it is their birthright to rule. May I remind the 'wise men of North' that nobody can kill an idea or change whose time has come. Since the annulment of June 12 election, Nigerians have woken up from their slumber. It would have been impossible for the North to rule over a 'united Nigeria' after June 12. Any political miscalculation will put the North in serious jeopardy like June 12.

After the atrocities that attended June 12, the Yorubas told Abdul Salami Abu-Bakr that if A.D is not registered as a political party, they will pull out of Nigeria. Abu-Bakr capitulated because the Yoruba must be pacified and if they go, other regions were ready to go too. The North had no choice- no thanks to IBB insensitivity. If you consider the fact that no region has benefitted so much from Nigeria and no region has 'ruined' Nigeria so much like the North, then simple reason demands that they should stop complaining about zoning and let Jonathan be.

We have pampered the north so much for too long. Going by the antecedents of the North, if they were to have custody of oil resources that is giving Nigeria 80% of her revenue which everybody is sharing, they won't tolerate any other regions or stay in Nigeria. I make bold to say that everything the north have done, is all about selfishness. If the North were in the shoes of the South, will they allow being exploited this long without protest or outright war? Will the north throw away this opportunity of incumbency because of zoning?

This is where I strongly advocate that Jonathan should be allowed to run, if only to compensate the South- South and the minorities for years of neglect and exploitation and demonstrate moral fairness. Those who are talking of zoning do not reckon with God's own zoning. Anybody who refused to see the hand of God in Jonathans' Presidency is spiritually blind. When God wanted to liberate the Israelites from Egypt after 430 years of slavery, he made Pharaoh to agree and allow the Israelites to go on a three day's journey to worship God.

The three days journey ended in 1948 when the state of Israel was founded. I didn't hear Pharaoh or the Egyptians complaining of breach of agreement. You can't keep an agreement where injustice and cheating is involved. Nadeco chieftains, who were fugitives during Abacha's Gestapo regime, are today alive and holding important positions in government. Can you accuse them of running away from the law from an unjust government that want to persecute them? God can bring about change through any means or form.

There is nothing in the so-called zoning agreement that says, if Yar Adua dies, a northerner must be drafted to continue where he stopped- even if the vice-president is there. The thing is that what happened to Yar Adua was never envisaged and the zoning agreement did not cover that aspect, but the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria did. So are we to obey PDP zoning agreement which was inevitable or our grund norm, the constitution?

Since the agreement did not envisage that Yar Adua will die in office, common sense demands that the North should allow Jonathan to exercise his political rights as a Nigerian, due to the special circumstance that threw him up. The agreement did not state clearly that the 8 years tenure MUST be used by a particular region - whether the man performs or not and whether he lives or dies. Or whether the man is acceptable to Nigerians or not. Again this is purely a PDP arrangement. What if another political party decides to zone their Presidential slot to the South after the first term of a PDP President from the North.

And if Nigerians overwhelmingly voted this Presidential candidate from the other party and from the South into office, what happens to the Second term of the Northern President of PDP? Will the North still insist on their 8 years, after the people have voted? What do you think will happen to this 'Iron - Cast' 8 years zoning arrangement of PDP? There lies the foolishness of this zoning thing which was ill-conceived, and the need for re-think. Or is the North saying that if God send us a Messiah to save us from years of stagnation, we should throw him away for zoning? Let somebody tell us that Jonathan is not a performer, and does not deserve to rule, and then we can take it up from there.

By equating PDP zoning arrangement with the larger Nigerian state it looks like a settled fact that PDP will always produce the president and it is between the North and the South, no East and West. Asking Jonathan to walk away from his position as President is a stupid suggestion, because the North will never do so in the first place. To worsen the matter, top contenders from the North are people with questionable human right records and treasury looters. This makes one believe that the North have no regards for the feeling of other Nigerian who suffered under their brutal regimes. One of them whom some people claim is not corrupt, have not explained to us what happened to 52 suit cases that was spirited out of the airport when he changed our currency. Besides, he didn't stay long, neither did he hand over peacefully.

So how can you eulogise a man whose regime was terminated by coup. If others who stayed longer were corrupt, what makes you think he wouldn't have been corrupt if he had stayed longer too? When he was PTF Chairman, how did he distribute projects in the country for even development? You can't eat your cake and still have it. These people knows that Nigerians have short memories and always play on our emotions and sentiments to gain political power. The way he emerged with Pastor Bakare as CPC flag bearers is corruption on its own for a man who is preaching morals. Christians are not deceived by that unholy alliance. A leopard can never change its spots.

• Agomuo
A human right activist and public affairs analyst, 08022905726