Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The National President, Middle Belt Forum (MBF), Dr Pogu Bitrus, has said that the 2023 presidential election may not favour the entire northern region as Middle Belt zone has decided to go its way and pick a presidential material that will protect the interest of the Middle Belters.
Dr Bitrus said this has become necessary since according to him, north is no longer monolithic because of alleged nepotism in government appointment between core north and not-too-far north of the country.
The Middle Belt national leader fielded questions from Journalists on Tuesday shortly after he attended a meeting of the Forum in Kaduna.
Dr Bitrus hails from Chibok town of Borno State, but when asked as a stakeholder to comment on the mood of his kinsmen when some of the abducted girls regained freedom sometimes ago from Boko Haram enclave, he declined to comment for ‘security reason’
He said, “I am in Kaduna for the middle Belt meeting. We deliberated on national issues, especially those that concern middle Belt. We discussed the issue of history, where we came from, the present political trends, other challenges and positions in the affairs of the nation. And having deliberated we have proffered solutions. We believe we should move the middle Belt forward”.
On the State of the nation, he noted that: “The nation is going through turbulence period, certainly the middle Belt is taking the brut with regard to attacks by terrorists, whether they call them Herdsmen or bandits, as far as we are concerned they are all terrorists. People who terrorise people are terrorists, let them be called by that name. And the middle Belt is suffering, on daily basis, the Middle Belt is being attacked and displaced, dispossessed of their ancestral lands. Of course, the middle Belt is concerned with other issues; the economy is biting everybody, and it has never been this bad.
“Of course the nepotism that is going on in this government is hitting the middle Belt hard because appointment at the federal level is being given to one section and the middle Belt is left out. But the same people go out and say we are north, where is the north. As far as middle Belt is concerned it is looking at these issues passionately and we pray that through the struggle that had started there will be a change in governance and the way government is running its affairs so that it will better the lives of everybody”.
Commenting on the 2023 presidency, the middle Belt leader said, “Ours has to do with mobilisation of the people. Talking of money politics, yes, we don’t have the money. Over the years, there had been a deliberate effort to stifle us from resources so that we don’t have economic giants among us. When you look at the far north they have built people over the years, but of all northerners that have oil blocs, only one is from the Middle Belt. It is a sorry state. And yet over the years, the same military authority who did all these things came into positions through the efforts of the Middle Belt, but as of today, middle Belt has been left out of the economic equation of the north. We don’t have the resources but will continue to mobilise, we will continue to strike and one day we will get it right.
“We are not mobilising for individual, as far as I am concerned, it is for the interest of the Middle Belt, that will be paramount in our mobilisation in which direction we are going. But we believe we are democrats, we believe that simple arrangement by different political parties that power should rotate especially the presidency between North and South.
“We have been lopped up in the north, but when it comes to the north they will insist on the far north, but now we are going to insist on the middle Belter because the thing is flying over us. So we will put up our case. We are not saying power shouldn’t go to the south, but what we are saying is that the middle Belt will put up a case. When it is back to the north, the Middle Belt should have it. Simple”.
On the newly formed North Central People’s Forum (NCPF), he said, “The people who call themselves the North Central People’s Forum are middle Belters who feel that they prefer working with Arewa Conservative Forum (ACF) as an appendage to ACF. Middle Belters are not an appendage of anybody. We are middle Belters. If they feel that they are inferior to be used by ACF we are sorry for them. They better realise that they are better than that and more important than that. They should come out and say we are middle Belters. Let’s fight for the course of the Middle Belt.”
Reminded that the ACF chairman and former Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Audu Ogbeh is from the Middle Belt, Dr Bitrus alleged, saying, “The ACF plays a lot of games to ensure that they create this portrayal that they have a monolithic north. They don’t have it, they know they don’t have it. Whether the ACF chairman like it or not he knows he is a middle Belter. He can pretend to be a northerner but the chips are down they will tell him where he belongs and that is going to happen.”