DIALOGUE By Akin Osuntokun
I was always fascinated with the notion of a Kaduna Mafia or rather the Kaduna Mafia of my imagination. I imagined it as a pressure group that manages the Northern hegemony of Nigerian politics with discipline and enlightened self-interest, in a manner that is not inconsistent with the overall development of Nigeria. Conscious of this hegemony and the fact that it does not have to be incompatible with the progress of Nigeria I have always argued that Northern hegemony per se is not the problem of Nigeria. It is the double jeopardy indicated in its abuse and wanton mismanagement that is the problem. We are currently grappling with the worst manifestation of this dysfunction in the prevailing Major General Muhammadu Buhari presidency. Given that the political predominance of the Northern region was clearly reflected in the political pact (i.e the independence constitution) voluntarily subscribed to by all the parties to Nigeria’s independence, it cannot be said that those at the receiving end namely Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe were not conscious of the reality of the inherent northern hegemony.
To the bargain, the insurance of regional federalism enshrined in the constitution rendered the spectre of an overbearing federal government quite remote. All those who signed up to the independence constitution especially the two Nigerian nationalists and Premier of the Western and Eastern region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe should know that Northern hegemony was worked into the document they adopted as the ground norm of Nigeria’s political interaction. Regional federalism was the anticipatory structural handicap against the encroachment of whoever wields the federal government on regional autonomy. Adherence to this framework was the guarantee against the potential misuse and abuse of the political imbalance and lopsidedness in favour of the Northern region. The absence of this framework since 1966 transferred this role to the individual and group managers of the political consequences of the geopolitical imbalance- that is the management of the resultant Northern hegemony.
Enters the Kaduna Mafia. Borrowing from Pareto’s elite theory my ideation or imagination of the Kaduna Mafia is “a select group of people with a certain ancestry, intrinsic quality, high intellect, wealth, special skills, or experience -who are more likely to be constructive to society as a whole, and therefore deserve influence or authority greater than that of others”. The speculation of Nvendiaga Jibo was not too far from this ideation- “Kaduna Mafia is the name given to a loose group of young Northern Nigerian intellectuals, civil servants, business tycoons, and military officers residing or conducting business in the former Northern capital city of Kaduna during the end of the First Republic. Many of its members were educated at the famous Barewa College and had demonstrated a certain level of managerial competence in comparison to some of their older contemporaries. They were known for their intelligence, commitment to the traditional values and socio-political interests of northern Nigeria, and their internal camaraderie. Famous members and allies include, Adamu Ciroma, Mamman Daura, Ibrahim Tahir, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Mahmud Tukur and Muhammadu Buhari”.
Jibo did not specifically list Kingibe
as a member but his associate membership is elsewhere indicated. In nearly all his post-university education career he has been a permanent fixture in the corridors and bedroom of political power in Nigeria. ‘As a young lecturer at the Ahmadu Bello University, he became acquainted with the Kaduna Mafia, a group of young western-educated intellectuals, civil servants, and military officers from Northern Nigeria. In 1986, military President General Ibrahim Babangida appointed Kingibe as Permanent Secretary of Special Services, overseeing the activities of security and intelligence services; and liaising with the military presidency. He later served as the Secretary of the Constituent Assembly from 1988 to 1989. He was subsequently sponsored by the late Shehu Yar’Adua to become the Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). He soon deserted Yar’Adua to mount a presidential campaign on the ashes of his mentor’s presidential aspiration.
At the annulment of the 1993 presidential election which he ran and won as Abiola’s running mate he, in a replay of his association with Shehu Yar’Adua, Kingibe deserted the ticket and joined the military regime of General Sani Abacha serving as a member of his politico-military caucus serving as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1993 to 1995, Minister of Internal Affairs from 1995 to 1997; and later Minister of Power and Steel from 1997 to 1998. In June 2007, he was appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation in Umaru Yar’Adua’s presidency and was sacked in September 2008 for, once again, seeking to cash in on the bad health predicated downfall of his principal. After the 2015 presidential election, he serially found utility as a political leg man in the newly inaugurated Buhari presidency’.
As we can see from Jibo’s list, the innermost core of this Buhari dispensation, Mamman Daura and Mohammadu Buhari himself featured as prominent members of the Kaduna Mafia. Given its relative discipline and ostensible northern reformist identity politics of the 1984/85 Buhari military dictatorship, this Buhari first coming appears to have fulfilled the criteria of being cited as an acceptable manager of northern hegemony. To the tragedy of Nigeria, this is a myth that has been comprehensively shattered by Buhari’s reintroduction since 2015. The lingering question I kept on asking about latter-day Buhari was how to reconcile the presence and influence of the cosmopolitan Kingibe and discipline personified Daura with the primitive tragicomedy of the Buhari presidency. How do we square the Kingibe of Buhari’s ruling cabal with the Kingibe who lately acquitted himself with a most educated refutation of his principal’s obtuse position on the national unity of Nigeria?
“I think that a few of my colleagues believe that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. Of course, it is negotiable. Even the unity of a family is negotiable. Even the constitution of husband and wife is negotiable. The moment either party feels this union is no longer bearable, that he or she will rather go his/her way. You help them to sit down consider their condition after a careful and rational examination of the pros and cons of how to be married that they take the decision which suits them best”. Do they get any more statesmanlike than this?
I have, however, chosen to play the cynic and ask the question why would Kingibe who has hitherto found culpable silence in six years of collusion with Buhari suddenly wake up, when the irreparable damage is done, to sing this new refreshing song? We will, in due course, find out how selfless or self-serving is his pandering towards the prevailing political sentiments in Southern Nigeria and the Middle Belt.
I have never known Kingibe to be a sentimental person and neither does he speak or act in vain, there is always a catch somewhere down the line in his accustomed game of political brinkmanship. Remember he is a trained intelligence officer. And as borne out of his antecedence with Shehu Yar’Adua, Moshood Abiola and Umaru Yar’Adua, he is ever quick to spot and exploit the misfortunes of his principals at their most vulnerable point to stake a bid for his lifelong ambition of becoming President of Nigeria. It is against the backdrop of this evidence that note must be taken that his recent intervention parallels the trend towards the refutation of the anticipated zoning of the Nigerian presidency to the South in 2023.
Recall that the political leadership of the North including the state governors, traditional rulers and sundry opinion leaders rose as one weeks ago to serve notice to the Southern Governors’ Forum (SGF), in particular, that zoning is antithetical to democracy. Somewhat taking a cue from this enabler are the shenanigans going on in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in which talks of the party’s nominee is being effectively reduced once again, to the candidature of former Vice-president Atiku Abubakar.
Playing John the Baptist to this recurring Abubakar messianism is my big brother, Raymond Dokpesi with the show stopper postulation ‘that the only chance the PDP has in winning the 2023 presidential election is by fielding in a northern candidate, specifically from the North-east zone and preferably the former Vice President Atiku Abubakar’ (God dey sha).
With Abubakar’s marketing campaign identification with the restructuring agenda and Kingibe’s sweet-to-the-ear disquisition on the consequential topic of contemporary Nigeria, there is an auditioning going on between these two suitors to capture the heart of the Southern bride. I make this reference with due resentment towards Lord Lugard who started off Nigeria with the demeaning projection of the relationship between the North and South (marriage between the “rich wife of substance and means” (the south) and the “poor husband” (the north). By the way, I hope the coincidence was not lost on readers that the Kingibe declaration was made at the occasion sponsored by the perpetually scheming and wildly ambitious mercenary politician of South-east extraction, Orji Kalu, Publisher of the Sun newspaper, Senator and two-term governor of Abia State. My bet is that the latter is already salivating on the prospect of a Kingibe/Orji Kalu ticket
N50 Million to Renovate Vice Chancellor’s Residence
The investigative panel into allegations of corruption against the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Ogundipe, has predictably unearthed scandalous and egregious evidence of sleaze comparable to the cesspool you would typically find in government ministries and parastals, NDDC, for instance. Predictably it has received scant public attention because this is the new Nigeria normal. Personally, I did not need the investigation to conclude on the character of Ogundipe. It was enough for me that at no time did he contest the fact that he spent N50million to renovate his official residence (which was a non-offense relative to the magnitude of what was subsequently uncovered).
My position is that any Nigerian Vice-Chancellor whose priority is the commitment of N50 million to the renovation of his residence in contemporary Nigeria were for lack of basic research facilities, Nigerian universities have become glorified secondary schools is not fit for his position and he is criminally liable. As military Governor of Western State, General Oluwole Rotimi asked his friend, late Professor Kayode Osuntokun, what gift he could buy for him on a vacation trip abroad. In response, the latter gave him a list of the latest books on medicine his students needed as his personal request.
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