From Gyang Bere, Jos
The President of Middle Belt Forum, Dr. Bitrus Porgu has said the region will not go with the Northern aggressors and oppressors who are bent on killing its members and taking over their land forcefully if Nigeria breaks up. He said the Middle Belt would prefer to stand on its own no matter the challenges. He advocated that the Presidency should move to the South and preferably the South East in 2023 since they have not occupied the seat for a long time.
The insecurity is so pathetic especially in the Middle Belt but it has also affected the whole country. When this government came in, things were not this bad but they have continued to offer propagandist statements about insecurity but they know the truth and the people out there know the truth. The insecurity is going on everyday and the bandits or insurgents as you may call them are now funding their operation using kidnapping and we are the victims. They kidnap our people, we pay ransom and they use the ransom to sustain themselves to cause more harm. It is high time government looked into these things seriously with a view to addressing it squarely.
Will you say the government encourages bandits’ activities? I ask this question because of the silence of the government over some of these issues.
Of course, we can go beyond that, we can say the government is complicit. A government that sees insecurity even after negotiating with bandits, you know their location and you wouldn’t go and apprehend or deal with them; we can say the government is complicit, we can say it is allowing them. Look, people in Maiduguri, Borno and the security agencies know the location of Boko Haram and going by what Sheik Gumi has done, it means government too knows the location of these people and it doesn’t take some special type of technology to deal with such. We have an Air Force, we don’t need to waste the lives of soldiers out there; go and bomb all of them since you know their location and since government is not doing it, it is complicit. This is what Buhari said during Jonathan’s regime, that Jonathan was killing his people when he brought South African mercenaries to deal with Boko Haram. What he said then is on record; he said Jonathan was killing his people, so maybe he is saying that he doesn’t want to kill his people; that is why he is leaving the bandits and what is happening justifies what I am saying. Since the government knows where these people are, and they are not being bombed, not being taking out of their places and they have continued to kidnap people and collecting ransom and nothing is being done, then this government has questions to answer.
What do think the government needs to do to tackle the situation on ground?
We will continue to push government to do what is right. If government fails, what has happened in other areas will happen in the Middle Belt. The South West started Amotekun to defend their people because they have seen that there is total failure of government; the South East has security network to defend their people and we will do similarly.
In your opinion for fair representation in government, where do you think the presidential seat should go to in 2023?
The Middle Belt believes in justice and fair play. As we are now, we have been lumped up as North, the so called larger party has unwritten constitution that there will be rotation of presidency from the North to the South and from the South to the North. When Buhari finishes his tenure and if he finishes because I have not got to know if he will finish, the Presidency is supposed to go to the South. As far as I am concerned, it is not my business to tell Southerners where it should be; it is up to the South to determine where it should be. Yes, you can rationalize and say it is supposed to go to the South East because they have not had it for a long time. Now, we want people to do justice, let’s do our own and allow others to do theirs; ours is that we will support the right thing to be done. If in the end, nobody does the right thing, it become a jamboree. PDP has opened it up, whether they will succeed in what they are doing, we don’t know, but it is for the PDP to decide; it is not for the Middle Belt to decide. We will also insist that we should be on the ticket; if the South East takes the President, we can decide to say we should be the running mate; why should it be given to the far North. But we have to put ourselves together, we cannot stay tearing each other apart. We have the numbers but we are not taking advantage of our numerical strength and that is our problem; we allowed people to decide who the candidate would be and we used our votes to elect that candidate; why won’t we at this time start looking onwards at our numerical strength and use it to our advantage.
Don’t you think the population of the Middle Belt has been grossly affected by the insecurity situation?
Of course with the insecurity, we have been affected. But it is more of dislocation; people are displaced. Let me give you an example; there are up to 92,000 people in Goza local government areas that are in Cameroon; it is now that they are being brought back. That is a very serious dislocation but majority of our people have moved elsewhere but the issue is that what happened to those electoral units that they have left behind; that is the question they have to answer. They are now located elsewhere, what happened to the units they have left. Would it follow them to where they are? Or will new units be created for them where they now reside; these are issues we need to address. The more we talk and engage with INEC with regards to constitutional act amendment, the better for us in addressing the issue. All those our people who have been dislocated should be located so that out vote can be counted.