The cultural middle-belt people regard Nigeria only as a geographical expression to which life was given to it by the diabolical amalgamation of 1914, and that continues to remain to the people the most painful injury the British inflicted on them in their Region.
The problems of the people were further added to, by Arthur Frederick Richards, who succeeded Sir Bernard Bourdillon, in May, 1943. Richard’s attitude to the issue of the country created more geneses of many later problems for the country, and which the people of the Middle-Belt Region are facing today.
Arthur Richard’s constitution came into effect in November, 1947, and favoured the defunct northern region of the country. He was very much opposed to carry out political radical changes for fear they would upset his masters, the rulers of the defunct northern region, Hausa/Fulani. Hear his comment, “that we must resist any attempt to create more regions. I now feel that any acceptance of the demand for a separate Cameroons region might lead to a violent Southern agitation for a Middle-Belt Region and, possibly, to a re-opening of Western Region frontier dispute.”
Rita Hinden wrote in part, … “Even in advanced societies, the handling of minorities is a most delicate political problem – the very touchstone by which the success of a democracy may be judged. In the inexperience of colonial politics, there is real danger in handing power to a dominant group, who may abuse the rights of the minorities, with a callous ruthlessness. These considerations must make even the most idealistic among us pause for second thought. This study has led unsteadily forward to the firm conclusion – that, the only finally just relationship between two nations, however strong the one and weak the other, is a relationship based on equality of status. From this, it would be easy enough to conclude that all that is necessary is to end paternalism and secure a free agreement with representatives of the local people.”
Describing the Middle-Belt as “North Central Zone” is a political jargon that neglects bitter historical facts, which led to the institutional alienation of the people from the commanding heights of political and economic power, and hides the human tragedy that has befallen the people marooned as insignificant appendices of the defunct northern region.
The people have been traumatized, victimized and harassed by the monsters of gross misrule, poor leadership, corruption, poverty and hunger for too long. Today, the people are languishing under the Buhari-led APC political and economic bondage. There has been deliberate policy of the Federal Projects on infrastructure utilities and other facilities that the area was denied of, and has turned the vast area of Middle-Belt Region into a graveyard.
What the Buhari APC administration is doing is a progressive elimination of Christians in their own area within the Middle-Belt to give room for his Islamic agenda to Islamize the country by gradually expanding the Sharia Law to all states. The vast area of the Middle-Belt has been earmarked by his administration as grazing areas for his brothers, the Fulani herdsmen, to settle. Because of the growing resistance by the people, who will not allow them to keep invading their communities, already, the killing of Christians has increased by over 65% within just a year.
By keeping silent on the activities of his brothers, the Fulani herdsmen, the impression he has created is that he has been supporting the Fulani herdsmen.
There has been persistent violence on the churches in Nigeria and within the Middle-Belt Region. The people have long been facing discrimination of all sorts and gross marginalization as they are denied access to states and federal jobs, even though it is their rights. By 2019, according to Dr Aderemi Akin, when Boko Haram had finished their depopulation of Christians in Nigeria, there may be no Christians in Nigeria to stand for elective post in the next 5 years.
The people of the Middle-Belt should accept the fact that the harder is usually the better way and so should not continue to subject themselves to primitive slave dealers but to come out and form their own political party with other progressives, in order to champion their cause and the cause of their people. Among them we have visionary leaders, men who see beyond their noses and who can with unfettered minds conceive and claim a future that is fresh and vibrant with unlimited possibilities for their people; men who are of the breed of Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kennyatta, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and many others.
By now, they should have known the tactics the Fulani-Hausa have been using to divide them. In the early days of the political activities, they used tribal politics and succeeded in dividing the United Middle-Belt Congress in alliance with the Unity Party of Nigeria led by Chief Obafemi Awolowo. They also succeeded in using Chief Akintola against his tribes’ men, the Yoruba. They, again, deceived and used Chief MKO Abiola, who died in the cause of claiming his mandate in one of the freest elections ever held in the country.
President Buhari should be reminded that he is a herdsman himself. We want to remind him of the special trip he made to Ibadan to see Chief Lam Adeshina to complain over an alleged ‘ill-treatment’ of his people, Fulani herdsmen. By that particular action, he was openly showing support for his Fulani herdsmen, who were causing havoc to that state.
His present failure to protect the citizens from the hands of his herdsmen is an open evidence of the support he is giving to a section of an ethnic group. He swore with the Constitution to provide security to protect the citizenry of the country when he took the reign of leadership of the country.
No wonder, Most Revd Dr Matthew Hassan Kukah has lambasted government for its inability to provide security to protect the citizenry. Kukah made the remarks in Kaduna on Friday, December 2, 2016, in an interview with journalists at the end of the opening ceremony of the 2016 Kafanchan Carnival organized by Kaduna Provincial Catholic Liturgical Music Council, PROCALIMO, when he expressed displeasure over the mass killing of the people of Southern Kaduna on daily basis.
The Bishop went on to say, “what is happening to us is not too different from what happened in Sudan, ‘the Janjaweed,’ ” adding, “because you must ask yourself, all these we are saying now, we have not had any arrest on this people; they come and kill everybody and go away. Now, that suggests a particular level of sophistication, and a lot of internal communication going on; how it is we don’t know? That’s the business of the security agencies.”
As we have always said, that what has happened is that they, the political class, divided the Middle-Belt into three, with a portion each with north-west, north-east and north-central. You cannot dismember us as to enslave us and expect us to accept it. It is unacceptable. Some of the parts of the region were usurped of their rights through religious hypocrisy. Religion must remain a personal choice and not compulsory, whether in the family or community. Might is not always right; and so, might alone is not enough to win all battles at all times.
As we have always said, restructuring of the country is key to stability; the full implementation of the Report and Recommendation of the last National Conference will bring about the stability of the country.