The Middle Belt Agenda
culled from DAILY TRUST, June
newspaper of March 13, 2005 came out with the Middle Belt agenda as its lead
story and John Dara as the main spokesperson and their delegate to the ongoing
National Political Reform Conference (NPRC). I do not intend to delve into the
rantings of John Dara many of which are contradictory and confusing. My main
argument concerns the delineation of the proposed Middle Belt region as shown on
the front page.
The new Middle Belt include the present north central zone, Adamawa and Taraba
States and the Christian parts of Gombe, Yobe, Borno, Bauchi and Kebbi States.
In case of Kaduna State it includes Southern and Central Sena-torial Districts
of the state. Which means all the states in the new arrangement will collapse to
form a new region with one government. Since Christianity is the criteria of
being Middle Belt, the non Christians will opt out of the proposed region. For
exam-ple states such as Niger, Kwara, Kogi, and Nasarawa which have large number
Muslims and the central part, of Kaduna and the Muslim areas of Taraba and Adam-awa
will have no reason to belong. And if for any reason the Muslim elements are
forced to remain in the region they will be the majority according to 1963
census figures. So the present mino-rity will remain collectively and
individually minority. In fact if the region is given to the so called bond of
Chri-stian faith among the various ethnic groups will fizzle out because the
bond is more of a pressure group of failed elites against their equally failed
colleagues of Hausa/ Fulani extraction in the race for political relevance and
economic empowerment essentially for selfish reasons. The masses of both sides
are only used as fodder. No wonder in all the so-called religious conflicts no
family of many Reverend, Imam, retired military or police officer or prominent
politician is ever affected. As a matter of fact most of these elites of
whatever background or faith have business links. They are known to be members
of one family in any board they find themselves.
As an indigene of Plateau, I am not comfortable with the role John Dara is
playing in view of the Yoruba agenda that tends to incorporate Yoruba speaking
areas of Kogi and Kwara States into their new Oduduwa Region. Is Dara not
smoothening Afenifere agenda whose main thrust is the balkanization of the
north? I fear that the likes of John Dara are sowing the seeds of discord among
the minorities and the rest of the people of North in order to justify their
flight to Oduduwa Region.
My position is that the elites among the minority tribe of the north need a,
rethink. Because the power and influ-ence they are looking for may not be in the
end. For example Mr Dara proposed 16 member federal cabinet. The Middle Belt is
likely to be represented by three persons out of this 16 member cabinet. Does it
occur to them that, the Muslim majority and Tivs will corner all. Those of us
from Plateau and Southern Kaduna; where do we place ourselves in the new
arithmetic of sharing?
While in the present set up it may be permissible for leading advocates of the
Middle Belt and minority emancipator like Chief Solomon Lar to corner all the
political appointments for his family forgetting even his fellow Taroks, let
alone the other tribes of Plateau State; and in the case of Group Capt. Dan
Suleiman restricting the appointment to himself only, in the new Middle Belt
region such luxury can hardly be tolerated.
Another thorny issue for the new Middle Belt is in the location of the capital.
The natural choice of course is Jos. But will Mr Isaac Shaahu accept that Or in
the alternative will my brother DIG Potter Dabup (rtd) accept Ilorin, Minna or
even as the new capital? Even though I was a child when regional system was
operated, hence I wouldn’t know how it fared. I am obviously comfortable with
the present federal state structure. In this system significant percentage of
our religious/ethnic divide are represented. Very much more are taken care of by
the nearly 800 local govern-ment areas.
If the system is
allowed to work, right leadership put in place and above all fear God enshrined
as the principles of governance, all those selfish cliché about Middle Belt,
Core North, Caliphate, Resource Control, Odud-uwa Region, Ethnic Nation-alities,
Biafara, Sovereign National Conference, etc will all die a natural death. In its
place a Nigerian citizen will be mould with common destiny. As true Nigerian
first, before being anything else.
I am therefore, of the opinion that, ‘Our elites in the Middle Belt Forum, and
those of the ACF should peacefully dialogue to find solution to their problems.
I say theirs, because the masses no next to nothing about this senseless hatred.
If you doubt me please visit the motor parks or our markets and you see our
people united in pursuance of a common cause with no one bothering to look up to
find what area you come from or what religion you practice. The truth is that
God in His wisdom Has created us on this area called North. Any, attempt to
disfigure this will be at our own peril. The” diversity of tribe and religion in
the North, ditto, in Nigeria should be the source of our strength, understanding
and love, rather weakness, con-flicts any hatred. Once, there was a country
called Somalia. It was 100% same religion, same tribe. It destroyed itself
because of bad leadership that was not only corrupt and selfish but which also
introd-uces divisive and hatred. If homogeneous countries such as Somalia could
failed because of bad leadership, ours will simply extirpate.
Dung wrote from