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EXCLUSIVE: “If Any Party Makes The Mistake Of Selecting A Northern Candidate, We Will Work Against That Party” – Middle Belt Forum

By Naveeb Beevan

The 2023 general elections in Nigeria apparently is going to be more intriguing than the previous one of 2019, and only comparable to that of the year 2015 because of the thematic issues of securing the lives of Nigerians, economic development and diversification. TMS News correspondent 646 ran into the ever vocal president of the Middle Belt Forum, Dr Bitrus Pogu on Thursday in Abuja with the latter speaking on critical issues affecting the country, and the position of the Middle Belt.

Dr Pogu while reflecting on state of insecurity in the country and how according to him  has affected over 40 million People of the Middle Belt, which comprises a mutually multi- cultural groups. Dr Pogu also spoke on the spate of incessant and unprovoked attacks on innocent citizens by stating that the peoples of the Middle Belt have mostly been at the receiving end of insecurity in Nigeria stating that

“our people are at the receiving end and we said it clearly, it is about land grabbing, it is about change in demography. There has been an influx of people in our lands for whatever reasons.”

He further said that “The Middle Belt Forum (MBF), along with other groups that have Middle Belt interests, are working aciduously to positively  change this narrative. 

Dr. Pogu restated that the MBF does not have military capacity to do anything, and that is why we have been promoting peace issues and adoption of state policing to ensure that our people are defended and able to embark in productive activities peacefully.  Meanwhile, Dr. Pogu debunked the notion that past attacks in the Middle Belt seem were mostly “Farmers-herders” conflicts based on cattle rustling.

“Yes, our people are being attacked without provocation. Initially they used to lie that their cows were rustled etc, but when we debunked that argument and position, now, they don’t even say anything but attack!”

Dr Pogu took a swipe at the legislative arm of the government, the far North and the military, but also promise that, the Middle Belt would continue to fight for emancipation, and to be sure that it is recognized like other zones of the country.

“The National Assembly is over-populated with skewed systems created and handed over to us by the military, but all the same, we will continue to fight to ensure that our Middle Belters get a right of place in Nigeria, for example, in the last attempt towards constitutional amendment, Middle Belters tried to bring succor to our people in the FCT by promoting the status of a “Mayor” for the FCT, but it was killed by the far North. But all the same, we will continue to do other things that will advance our collective interest, and we believe that so many developmental projects that have been left fallow in the Middle Belt like the Ajaokuta Steel Mill Development Complex and others are being pushed, to ensure that economic development comes to the Middle Belt.”

He complained bitterly about the lack of leadership in tackling the state of insecurity that has so much destabilize the Middle Belt, stating that as the 2023 elections draw closer, the position of the Middle Belt is with political parties that zone their presidency to the South, and, that the Middle Belt Forum would work against any political party that fields in a Northern candidate.

“So, the efforts on ground, including the efforts of the presidency to go to the South, we feel and believe strongly that it is in our interest that it happens that way because our Northern Brothers have not shown capacity and ability to save our people from the mayhem that is going on. Insurgents all over the place, kidnapping, and, killing Middle Belters with impunity, taking the little money we have and the government doing nothing about it? We believe these things are due to problems at the center. It is not that our Military is incapable, but we believe there is no political will to make the Military to do the needful, but the Middle Belt is doing all that it can to ensure that the issue is addressed and addressed in earnest.

“2023, is just by the corner, and it is right, just and proper, that after eight years of  a Northern-Fulani-Kanuri leadership which to me has failed woefully, power should move to the South. Not only are we advocate of that, even the political parties have this issue of zoning in their constitution between the North and the South, and the Middle Belt is lending its voice in that direction. 

“We want somebody who will not call these miscreants in bushes, “Our boys in the bushes!” We want somebody who will be a true Nigerian, and address it as a Nigerian problem so that we will have peace in the Middle Belt. 

He reminded us that the result of the Confab of 2014 was critical in tackling the problems of Nigeria, and should be adopted if truly Nigerias problems must be solved.

“We want a situation where we will have a constitutional amendment that would be acceptable by all Nigerians. We have been advocating the implementation of the 2014 Confab report which captures the majority of problems that are bedeviling Nigeria at the moment. And if any party makes the mistake of selecting a Northern Candidate, we will work against that party. We want a Southern candidate, preferably somebody who would be able to address these problems, so that we can have a better Nigeria for all Nigerians!

In anticipation to the book launch of the autobiography of the first ever Executive Governor of Plateau State, Late chief Solomon Lar, titled, “Chronicles of the Rainbow,” Dr Pogu said that history would always remember Chief Lar as the “Emancipator” because of how wisely and justly he fought for inclusiveness of the Middle Belt in national affairs, and the reforms he brought into the political scene while he was alive.

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