Middle Belt as Grandeur of Utopia -By NAAbdullahi O. Haruna

Filed under: Democracy & Governance |

Middle Belt as Grandeur of Utopia

The people of the so-called Middle Belt are proverbially those who eat from both sides of the divide. Rather than have a common front to advance our cause, we always resort to subtle blackmail to achieve our temporary desires. When other regions are striving for real growth, we hide under religious subterfuge crying wolf where there is none.

At a time when states like Delta and Rivers are accommodating Fulani herdsmen and providing them grazing lands, we the so-called middle belt are up in arms against the grazers and we talk of growth. If the herdsmen are troubleshooters, how come they enjoy unabridged acceptance in the Delta? We cannot said to be a people when we aren’t receptive to others.

The perennial threat and jamboree of always aligning with other regions to spite the monolithic north is becoming old and uninteresting. That threat is now an open secret of playing the victims of domination and marginalization. The middle belt like the monolithic north has benefited immensely from the contraption called Nigeria. My history book told me that General Yakubu Gowon, General Ibrahim, General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma, General Joe Garba, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, General Abdulsalami Abubakar,General Jeremiah Timkbtu Usaini, General Jona David Jang,Senator Iyorchia Ayu,General Lawrence Onoja, General Ibrahim Ogohi, General Isaac Alfa, General Ibrahim Alfa, General David Mark and other endless middle belt names were once and still in charge of Nigeria.

What did these non-actors brought forth as dividends of their exploits on the corridor of power? Niger and Benue State are two embarrassing reference of misrepresentations. Till this moment, you cannot drive on a tarred road from Abuja to Minna. Same with Benue where you cannot equally drive from Makurdi to Oturpko on a tarred road. Aren’t these homes of the leaders of the so-called middle belt extraction?

Sometimes, break away is very good for a defined interest .The middle belt struggle is nothing but wishful thinking. I am yet to see the unity in that assumption: until Benue, Plateau and by extension Taraba can come together and push a viable common front then you cannot say there is a middle belt. The concept is a grandeur of utopia. You cannot define a group solely by its’ religious bias. If the middle belt is defined by religion, then the agitation is on a “long thing”.

First, Plateau and Benue are the only states whose population can be weakly defined by religion. The other so-called middle belt states are a mixed grill of both Christians and Muslims. So where is the so-called middle belt struggle?

How many endowment funds have the agitators of the middle belt put in place since the days of Joseph Tarka? How formidable is the middle belt when the Tivs can never allow the Idomas a feel of the government house or the Igalas giving the Egbiras/Igbiras a bite of Lugard House?

Aligning with South or West does not in anyway change the equation. The monolithic North and the West still pull the string of effective mobilization of their people. I challenge, unapologetically, the proponents of the utopian middle belt to name a formidable leader of the region that can put through a call and the middle belters would respond, apart from those who would resort to using religion as a mobilization tool. You can’t talk of a middle belt when you don’t have a blueprint and a galvaniser.

Historically, the north existed as a beautiful bride of reference. With late Sir Ahmadu Bello the Sardauna of sokoto providing genuine and purposeful leadership directions. Fascinatingly, people who are wholeheartedly committed to the real progress of the north surrounded him. Joseph Tarka from the warrior and brave land of the Tivs was a dependable contemporary in the circle of the Sardauna, late Tarka dignified his Tiv people by being a worthy ambassador.

So was the professional and administrative exploits of late Professor Ishaya Audu who was incidentally Sardauna’s personal Physician and one of the pioneer goons in medical practice and late Chief Sunday Awoniyi whose administrative dexterity was a delight to the Sardauna .

These people were never divided or defined by the gab of religious identities; they were united for the progress of the north. Archive material even has it that it was late Sarduana that suggested the idea of the Christian Association of Northern Nigeria that late transmutted to CAN to Prof Ishaya Audu. Now political hawks and jobbers use it as devastating tool of division and have hijacked the body.

And of very importance is the obstinate stance of the Hausa/Fulani as being the heir apparent to the opportunities in the north. We must banish this thoughts and retrace our strayed path to the mapped route of late Sardauna.

Religious extremism is helping immeasurably in the disintegration of the north. We must condemn that age long belief of being under the canopy of righteousness. The teaching of non-compulsion in religion is akin to universal right of association. Together we must unite against the marauders of hate, bigotry and extremism.

Any deviation from these, will water the ground for political jobbers who profit unscrupulously from the disintegration of the north.

NAAbdullahi O. Haruna Haruspice writes for World Entourage Magazine.