Selected Articles on the Middle-Belt Zone
A DEFINITION OF THE MIDDLE-BELT ZONE
Many people are intrigued when references are made to an area called the “Middle-Belt.” It has, therefore, become imperative for the education of all, to give an apt definition in order to erase certain misconceptions in the minds of the general public.
In 1900, the British created the so-called Protectorate of Northern Nigeria to include the area 7o 10’ N, comprising about 256,000 miles with a population of 9-10 million.
According to Lord F. Lugard, in 1913, when making the proposal for the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates, the British in 1900 had found in the Northern Protectorate the following “political” situation:
(i) Some Hausa Emirates.
(ii) Kwarrawa Kingdom.
(iii) The “Borno” Kingdom.
(iv) The rest of the territory consisting of about half the Protectorate and occupied by “pagan” tribes.
In addition to the pre-colonial boundaries referred to above, during the 1957/58 Willinck’s Commission, “Minorities” in the Northern region sought to have a State carved out of the region, for their protection against anticipated feudal excesses, when the British would have left the scene on independence. The area claimed by the then United Middle-Belt Congress (UMBC) and its Western ally, the Action Group (AG), was to comprise wherever Christians and “Pagans” were in majority over Muslims or, indeed, anywhere the “Northern Emirate System” was not rooted.
The adoption of Islam by the Hausa and Fulani in the North had eroded their traditional cultural values. Religion had become their culture. Not so among the other nationalities who, although embracing Christianity or Islam, had continued to cherish their traditional cultural values in so far as these did not conflict with their new faiths. This remains the position today among all peoples of the so-called 19 Northern States – with the exception of Hausa, the Fulani and, to some extent, the Kanuri.
The social norms among the people of the Middle-Belt areas are distinct from those among the Hausa and Fulani behavioural patterns akin to the Kushite stock that inhabited the Benue and Gongola Basin centuries ago.
The Middle-Belt Region is the largest region in land mass in Nigeria, comprising of ten states and half or part of five other states. Its land consists of the Centric and Savannah Zones, sharing similar vegetation, climatic conditions and agricultural cycles. Going by the 1991 population census figures (which in any case is highly disputed), the Middle-Belt Region is about 26 million. The attached map shows the land area and states of the Region.
Thus, taking the foregoing into consideration as well as contemporary debates as to who is a “Northerner,” the Middle-Belt area can (subject to minor adjustments) be said to include the following:
(i) Benue State.
(ii) Nasarawa State.
(iii) Kogi State.
(iv) Kwara State.
(v) The F.C.T.
(vi) Niger State.
(vii) Plateau State.
(viii) Adamawa State.
(ix) Taraba State.
(x) Gombe State.
(xi) Parts of Kaduna State.
(xii) Ditto Bauchi State.
(xiii) Ditto Kebbi State.
(xiv) Ditto Borno State.
(xv) Ditto Yobe State.
LONG TERM GRAND PLAN OF MARGINALIZATION OF THE MIDDLE-BELT/NIGERIA BY THE HAUSA/FULANI
Due to no fault of ours, we have been historically marginalized, exploited, oppressed and our domains turned into labour reserves or grave yards. It is a historical fact that we have consistently rejected this culture of oppression (re: Willinck’s Commission of Enquiry, “The Riots”).
However, these protests did not receive their worthy or due attention in political development of Nigeria because of a combination of several reasons, some of which include:
(1) Anglo Hausa/Fulani conspiracy to perpetuate the subjugation of the minority, thereby giving them a stronghold control of the country. This has gone on for such a long time that the Hausa/Fulani see it as their supreme birth-right to seize or appropriate control or to possess anything or office that is of relative value. It is on record that appointments done during the military era were so segregatory that records that, in the predominant Christian area of the Middle-Belt, Hausa/Fulani settlers were handpicked for juicy offices; and whenever indigenes of such areas raised eyebrow, they were quietened down, on the pretext of perceived/illusionary political balancing.
Even when a few Middle-Belt secured for themselves relative positions of advantage, they were either subverted or manipulated or eliminated. However, those who were lucky to survive performed exceptionally well. It is against this appointment of a few deserved indigenes of the Middle-Belt into positions of responsibilities by the Obasanjo Administration that, by their utterances, the far North underscored dividing us and them. We, however, wish to state that their reaction was not a streak of malevolence, but what we have always feared and what has always been, in other words, was a manifestation of impeccable arrogance, smug complacency and the will to perpetuate the master-servant relationship, which we have always resisted.
We are very much aware of the long-time plan (which has been in operation) to partially undermined or exploit the human and material resources of the Middle-Belt and the Nation in general.
(2) Military: Often times it is widely said and believed that the Middle-Belt controls the military. To a certain extent this is true, but then, in the Nigerian context, there are two militaries, i.e., the professional military and the political. Need we state that whereas political/economic advantages accrue to the political army, it is sweat and bullets that accrue to the professional army? In a few words, it is a case of “Monkey dey work, Baboon dey chop.”
Going down memory lane, while the Middle-Belt fought and died to keep Nigeria one, while some people were busy trading, but no sooner than the war ended, the Middle-Belt soldiers were found unworthy of their ranks and, consequently, stripped of their commission. But this was to turn out to be the first phase of a systematic elimination of the Middle-Belt Officers (perceived to have been the “stumbling blocks” in times of carrying out their hidden agendas against the Nigeria State as evidently seen during many unwanted mayhem that have befallen this great country, the most populous black race in the world). Through frustration, premature retirements, phantom coups and, even when these coups were real, the rules not only changed when Middle-Belt officers were involved, the ferocity and speed with which they were eliminated is legendary; e.g., Dimka’s Valsa’s and Okar’s coups (over 89% of victims were minorities). (Kaduna Mafia, pp.90).
There has also been institutional conspiracy in the armed forces to the extent that all, but a few, military institutions were under the command and control of trusted Northerners. For example, recently at the NDA (Nigeria Defence Academy), Kaduna, the Commandant, the Provost, the Registrar and other Principal Officers, came from one State – Kano. The intention was ultra obvious – to flood the institution with their people (to correct the perceived “imbalance” of the North) to the exclusion of other competent Nigerians. It also afforded them the opportunity to carry out other unholy acts, including the unjustifiable weeding out of Cadets from other parts of the country in consonant with their avowed statements, “If we cannot compete with those inside, we at least now can determine who gets in and who gets out,” as a deliberate policy.
However, it is not only in the military that the Hausa/Fulani sought to deal with the Middle-Belt. In what can be described as double-pronged attack, they, over a considerable length of time, pauperized the Middle-Belt while they empowered their people; e.g., in the vast Middle-Belt consisting of about 15 States, you can count on your finger tips Federal Government projects, most of which are moribund. In the Middle-Belt, there are no basic infrastructure – including roads, water, light, communication facilities, and other basic necessities of life.
Not unexpectedly, the Middle-Belt is one giant grave yard, whose manure is used to sustain life in the North. Compare this situation with the North where a deliberate policy to improve the lifestyle of the people is not only aggressively pursued, its actualization is mandatory (in duty to Allah). Thus, from place to place, there are industries in places even when the economic realities do not justify the existence of these industries. In other words, political expediency has taken over economic realities. Similarly located were the state-of-the-art infrastructures such as roads, water systems, telecommunications, etc.
At another level, there were active empowerment of their people to the exclusion of ours, through massive recruitment into lucrative positions and offices, directorships and other collateral benefits that go with the holding of such offices. In a few words, the North seized from the country the sixteen most viable parastatals, which they shared among themselves; e.g., NNPC, NITEL, NEPA, NMA, NPA, NICON, CBN, NBTE, NPEC, NUC, JAMB, were all in the hands of one group.
The grand finale in this vicious game of self-empowerment to the detriment of others was the fraud known as PTF. In conception, execution of projects and recruitment, PTF was purely a Northern affair (Hausa/Fulani). For example, we would like to know the people behind the Afri Project Consortium, which run the PTF. We would also want to know how much APC honestly made from PTF.
We appreciate the saying, “speak no ill of the dead,” but we are compelled to ask this question: “How much was found in Salihijo’s account after his death?” We also wish to reject the fictitious projects executed in the Middle-Belt. Accordingly, we call for the probe of PTF, so that the world would know the crime that was committed against the Middle-Belt and Nigeria in general. The Mafia in the North carried out this unpardonable crime in the effort to empower each graduate of a Hausa/Fulani origin in readiness to enforce their hidden agenda against the government and people of this country.
If Abacha has been so ruthlessly probed and if Buhari (PTF) is to be probed, it is only logical and necessary that IBB be probed. For he masterminded, and midwifed the destruction of the economy, the Civil Service, the Armed Forces and political structures of this country. IBB it was, who introduced bloodshed, deception and district as state policies with their predictable consequences. Accordingly, we hereby call on the Federal Government to make IBB account for his human rights abuses and other crimes committed in and out of office against the government and people of this country.
At this point in time, we would like to comment on the recent Kaduna crisis. There are various shades of opinions on this. Whereas some blame it on the economic difficulty of the country, others ascribe it to religious intolerance; yet others point accusing fingers at hoodlum anxious to make it quick, through arson and looting. We have cause to believe that the Kaduna carnage was a carefully planned and executed programme against other defenseless people of this country.
We believe it was conceived shortly after the Zangon Kataf crisis, in 1992, and developed over time to avenge their perceived “loss.” In a meeting presided over by a top ranking traditional ruler in the North, immediately after the 1992 crisis, the Hausa/Fulani said that the Middle-Belt has rebelled and there was the need to ring them in. Accordingly, a “peace” committee was set up into which their proxies and lackeys were co-opted.
At the said meeting, the Hausa/Fulani said they suffered losses in the crisis because the military and the police personnel deployed to quell the crisis, “majority of whom were Middle-Belt minorities,” took sides. Accordingly, they resolved, thus:
(i) To fill up both the officers and other rank cadre in the armed forces and police.
(ii) To frustrate and waste Middle-Belt officers and soldiers in phantom or imaginary coup plots, and through punitive postings.
(iii) To ensure premature retirements of the Middle-Belt officers in the Armed Forces and the Police (refer to our example of the NDA) and other para-military formations.
(iv) To waste Middle-Belt officers and soldiers in phantom or imaginary coup plots.
(v) The recruitment, training and the earning of the local militia (i.e., the Yanbanga).
(vi) The secret mobilization and the arming of the local populace.
It was, therefore, only a matter of time before they strike. It was a Vengeance Mission designed to intimidate, to displace and to further pauperize the Middle-Belters. The “offence” of Southerners, who also sustained enormous loss in this carnage, is their perceived support of Southern Kaduna people.
At this juncture, we would like to call on all sons and daughters of the Middle-Belt to note and be aware, that our destiny is in our hands, as the manipulators will not succumb graciously. The political engineers from all sections of the country are calling their shots, and we cannot stay aloof and watch the country break into pieces. Accordingly, we would like to raise the following observations/points:
(1) Law and order are the key cardinal points that must be put in place for a sustainable egalitarian and peaceful society. All the operations of security of this great nation must, therefore, be properly managed and monitored, to ensure the stability of the country.
(2) That the grand patron (IBB) of political and economic bastardization of this country should account for his crimes committed against this nation. In fact, he has to publicly apologize to all Nigerians for thwarting the achievement of our collective mandate given to Abiola in 1993. His mansion at Minna should be acquired by the Federal Government and turned into a Specialist Hospital.
(3) That the Governors from Middle-Belt should demand for a public declaration of all the assets jointly held by the so-called 19 Northern States. They should pull out their shares and reinvest on better economic ventures that would benefit all the Middle-Belters.
(4) The Middle-Belt Region has an arable vast land, very fertile; and if properly managed agriculturally, can feed the whole Sub-Saharan Africa. Instead of wasting time attending the so-called Northern Governors’ Meetings, they should find partners in the developed world who can better put the vast arable lands into productive ventures. They should stop attending the so-called “19 Governors’ Meetings!”
(5) We solidly uphold the declaration made by the Americans on the day of their independence, thus: “We hold these truths to be self evident; that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator (God) with certain inalienable rights; amongst these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” It is on this principle that the Nigerian Constitution was adopted; and so we absolutely uphold this aspect of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
(6) We call for a true Federal Structure for Nigeria, and call upon the Federal Government to look into genuine complaints from people that are not fairly treated, to make adjustments of boundaries so that all would be happier.
(7) We also call on all progressive forces from all nooks and crannies of the country to congregate and give the present government a massive support, so that a new foundation of this country would be laid, where everybody would have a sense of belonging.
(8) In the same vein, we are calling on all progressive forces in the Far North, to intervene in the educational development of the children of the downtrodden masses going about in the streets of the northern cities begging for alms (the almajiris). These children are being denied benefits of western education by the manipulators through wrong indoctrination and would like to perpetually use them as ready tools for carrying out their evil designs. They know that among these children are supposed to be great tomorrow’s Engineers, Doctors, Lecturers, etc.
Long live, the Middle-Belters!
Long live, Nigeria!
God bless us all, Amen.
ALPHABETICAL LISTING OF SOME TRIBES IN THE MIDDLE-BELT REGION
(A) 1 ADARA
15 ANGHAN KAMANTON
(B) 1 BACHAMA
(C) 1 CESSU
(D) 1 DADANE
(E) 1 EBIRRA
(F) 1 FAKAWA
(G) 1 GA’ANDA
(H) 1 HAM
(I) 1 IDOMA
(J) 1 JANGI
(K) 1 KAGOMA
(L) 1 LA
(M) 1 MADA
(N) 1 NANDU
(O) 1 OGORI
(P) 1 PABOR (BABUR)
(R) 1 RIBANG
(S) 1 SAMBAN
(T) 1 TAIMEN
(U) 1 UDORO
(V) 1 VERRE
(W) 1 WAGGA
(Y) 1 YANDANG
8 YORUBA (OKUN)
(Z) 1 ZARA