Ambassador Yahaya Kwande stirred up a hornets’ nest the other day. And things have not been the same. I made it clear in my column last week: “How not to play Man Friday.”
He practically shot at the Middle Belt Forum (MBF). But its leaders refused to be shut down. Kwande is deputy chairman, Northern Elders Forum (NEF), North Central zone. He insisted NEF would not let go the Middle Belt. His outburst the other day:
“Our history, destiny and mode of life have always been northern and our region of the Middle Belt is an integral part of the North. There are no ambiguities regarding where our interests lie, as they are located with the interest of the North.”
It was at that juncture that one Abdul Azeez Suleiman came on board. He too displayed his disdain for the Middle Belt zone. He is spokesman, Coalition of Northern Groups (CNG). He exhibited his confused mind this way, courtesy, Saturday Sun: “I have an issue with that THING (emphasis mine) called Middle Belt. They have not defined it. Is it Middle Belt religion, geography or ethnicity? It is just confusion.” Really?
But the MBF refused to be cowed. Members are not bothered by the ignorance and deceit displayed by NEF and CNG. They forged ahead unhindered. They promptly stood up to them. They were not afraid to be counted.
Kwande and Suleiman found their match in Dr. Dogo Isuwa, spokesman, MBF. He literally cleaned up Suleiman. Again, courtesy, Saturday Sun: “Suleiman is free to say anything, but clearly he is suffering from illusion, if he thinks or declares that Middle Belt is still part of the North. Which North? His own North?” He wondered aloud, continuing the onslaught: “Middle Belt is an independent separate entity. We don’t need the North. Let the North stand on its own. We, people of the Middle Belt, don’t want any relationship with the North.”
Isuwa was down to earth. He neither mixed nor missed his words: “We can relate as neighbours but never, never again; we are not interested in any union with the North.”
He was amazed and amused by the displayed despondency: “Why this desperation by the North?” He found the most suitable and viable answer: “The fact is this, and which the North also knows, without the Middle Belt, the North is finished.” True?
He is not done yet: “The North has been exploiting and oppressing the people of the Middle Belt. But now we have removed the yoke of oppression of the North. We don’t want to have anything to do with the North again.” Is that the final answer? “And our decision is irreversible.” Gbam!
Isuwa is damn right. Without the Middle Belt, the North is stark naked and empty. They by all means want that “North” to reflect in the name. They detest “Middle Belt.” And we, the Middle Belters, hate that label, “North Central” with great passion.
Suleiman is from Zaria in Kaduna State. Kwande is from Plateau State, the heartbeat of the Middle Belt. The very reason he took up the role of Man Friday for his NEF. Both Suleiman and Kwande share a meeting point; so also the CNG and NEF they represent.
They are obsessed and haunted that their pet project, the North, is breaking up. The Hausa-Fulani creation is collapsing like a pack of loose cards. One North is a mirage. It has always existed at the whims and caprices of the jihadists and their cohorts.
The so-called North was not built on justice, equity and fairness. It was full of contradictions, abnormalities and deceit. Since it flew in on the warped imagination of the drunken couple of Lugard and Flora, it has never stood the test of time.
That is the very reason it would continue to fumble and stumble. The North cannot stand on its fragile legs again. The jinx is broken. It has been exposed by its own dishonesty and crookedness.
There are no joint owners in the North, but senior and very junior partners. The lords of the North never saw the Middle Belters as equals. They are seen as second-class citizens and treated as such; always at the receiving end.
Suleiman and Kwande are just behaving true to type. They are not doing anything new. They are just drawing from precedence and our ugly history. Truly, they are daydreamers. They dream both night and day. And they would forever have nightmares anytime they choose to close their eyes to sleep.
Suleiman and Kwande are strange fellows; yet they share the same bed. They are a perfect mixture of opposing views. It is very clear to any discerning heart that they acutely lack substance in their argument and postulations. They are speaking from both sides of their huge mouths. They have neither the mind nor the liver of their own.
They rely heavily on their minders, sponsors and role models. And they substantially speak their minds and reflect eerie thoughts. They are the foot soldiers, while the commanders are in the war situation room. They are sweating, plotting and manipulating all the days of their life.
Because of their ulterior motives, they would never have any rest. They have done it before. So, what Suleiman and Kwande are advocating is not strange to us. We know them by their evil game plan. They are sickened by the name Middle Belt. Their choice is North Central.
This fury in the Middle Belt is very pleasing. It is a resolute resolve of a people for justice, fairness and equity. The fury must not be stopped until it achieves what it sets out to achieve.
It is a life-long project. Its place is adequately guaranteed in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is not a revolt or revolution. It is a mass movement of a people who have been explored, exploited, used, abused and abandoned.
To make matters worse, Fulani herdsmen have turned the peaceful and serene belt into a theatre of war. And nothing has been concretely done to abate this. All we see and hear are rhetoric.
We earnestly pray that the Middle Belt fury would put a permanent end to that carnage. That is the lasting solution the Middle Belters’ desire.