Gyang Bere, Jos
The Northern Elders Forum says that it will reject any move by leaders in the Middle Belt Forum to detach communities in North Central Nigeria from the North.
Deputy Chairman Amb. Yahaya Kwande in a press statement issued in Jos on Monday said the states that make up the North Central region are recognised as ‘Middle Belt’ under the North, and that anything more than that is unacceptable.
He frowned at a statement credited to leaders in the Middle Belt Forum with allies in southern Nigeria suggesting that the Middle Belt was not part of the North.
Amb. Kwande expressed worry that the statement seeks to distance North Central communities from the rest of Northern Nigeria, including the North West and North East.
“Myself and my elder colleagues in the North Central zone, known as The Middle Belt of Nigeria, are concerned that several statements have been credited to persons claiming to be leaders of the Middle Belt Forum and their friends in the southern part of our country,” the statement reads.
“The statements claim to speak for and on behalf of all citizens and communities in states in the Middle Belt, constitutionally known and grouped in the North. Nigeria, Kwara, Kogi, Nasarawa, Plateau and Benue states.
“These statements seek to distance our communities from those in the two other zones of North West and North East that form the North, or the old Northern Region of Nigeria. More disturbing, these statements suggest that we are effectively parts of the communities in the former Sourthern Nigeria made up of Western, Mid-West and Eastern Nigeria in our political disposition and in all matters that influence our approaches to the manner we co-exist with other Nigerians.
“While we share many bonds with other Nigerians from the three sourthern zones, we wish to emphatically state that we are Northerners, and we have always been so from the creation of Nigeria. We reject any attempt to detach our communities from others in the North by negative and opportunistic interests, or identify us with characteristics of faith or political disposition which are fictional.”
Amb. Kwande disagreed with the idea of the Middle Belt that goes beyond the geographical area of the present North Central Zone, and said their parts of the North will continue to champion the rights of all communities in the region and will work with other Nigerians to improve the unity and economic well being of the country.
“The Rt. Hon. Simon Bako Lalong, Governor of Plateau State from the Middle Belt, is the chairman of Northern Governor’s Forum; while Rev. Yakubu Pam is the able North Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
“The political division remains South West, South East, South South all from the South,while the North remains North West, North East and North Central. We advised those self-styled leaders who speak principally against our identities and interest to stop henceforth.”