By George Onmonya Daniel
THE Middle Belt Forum leaders and their Southern Nigerian counterparts issued a statement recently insisting that power must shift to South. The bone of contention is that the president’s position must go to South amidst rancour in both parties that are likely going to win the race, the APC and the PDP, on the candidates that will represent the two parties. Some people in the North are saying that there is no need for zoning when Southern governors have made their position known that zoning to South is non-netotiable.
In the midst of all these brouuhahas and vituperations, why is the Middle Belt siding with the South against Arewa?
The fact is that over the years the Middle Belt feels alienated from Arewa because of the political culture and climate which is muddled up in the politics of religion and ethinicity that has continued to separate people from the borderlines where Arewa meets the Middle Belt.
Plateau State is sharply divided between Arewa and the people of the State, likewise Northern Kaduna and Southern Kaduna, Taraba have the same problem, and crisis have continued to erupt in these faultlines majorly over the politics of ethnic and religious domination over who gets what and who takes what.
When the leaders of the Middle Belt from JS Tarkar recognized the brewing conflict of interest from the beginning between Hausa/Fulani Islamic North and the Middle Belt they did not envisage the calamity the would come out of the animosity that was waiting in future.
Thousands have been killed in Kaduna State and its neibouring Plateau State over Arewa quest for Sharia Law without informing or caring about the feeling of non-Muslims.
The Sharia clashes and religious and tribal crisis in Southern Kaduna, Jos and the incessant clashes in Kano, made late Libyan president, Mamman Ghadafi, to advise Nigeria to break up. All these crisis were between the people of the Middle Belt and Hausa/Fulani people.
The government of President Muhammadu Buhari would furthermore hurt the already heated up relationship between the people of the Middle Belt with his people by mishandling the Fulani herdsmen invasion of villages and massacres of people in Middle Belt rural communities. His open support for the killer herdsmen and complete apathy and disregard for Nigerians who are victims of the herdsmen would make General TY Danjuma (rtd.) to tell his people and all Nigerians to fight back as the government of President Buhari is not ready to tackle the issues head on.
Most of Buhari’s appointments pertaining to the Middle Belt went to Muslims in the Middle Belt, he was so shameless about it that former President Olusegun Obasanjo told him in a letter he released to the press that he is nepotistic. From herdsmen, Buhari’s Fulani pastoralists have now become officially labelled as terrorists by the Nigerian Court. Buhari himself refused to call them terrorists, preferring to call them bandits, when he quick to proscribe IPOB as a terrorist organisation.
On paper Arewa likes to believe the Middle Belt is part of their North, in reality both the people of Arewa and the Middle Belt know that that is not true.
Characters like Sheikh Pantami who was preaching hate and inciting Muslims that he will lead Jihad into Plateau even if he will die at the warfront have suddenly become a big part of the Buhari’s government. The Middle Belt have never felt alienated till under this government and these sums up some of the main reasons why the Middle Belt Forum is drumming support for the South and a Southern candidate to emerge as president.