Kwande faults Middle Belt’s claim on extension beyond North Central
Deputy Chairman, North Central Zone of the Northern Elders’ Forum (NEF), Ambassador Yahaya Kwande, has faulted the idea that the Middle Belt extends beyond the present North Central Zone of the country.
In a statement issued yesterday in Jos, he said, “We disagree with the idea that the Middle Belt extends beyond the present North Central Zone, as it can only be recognised within the context of the North.
“Our part of the North will continue to champion the rights of all communities in the geo-political zone and we will work with all Nigerians to improve on the country’s unity and its economic well being.
“We restate that there are no ambiguities regarding where our interests lie. They align with the interests of the North, a region we firmly believe allows us the best opportunities to be properly identified and contribute as equals to regional and national politics.”
Kwande further pointed out that Governor of Plateau State, Simon Bako Lalong, from the Middle Belt is Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum (NGF), while Reverend Yakubu Pam is Northern Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
“The political division in the South remains Southwest, Southeast and South-South, while the North remains Northwest, Northeast and North Central. We advise leaders who speak principally against our identities and interests to stop henceforth,” he added.
He explained that while the North shares many bonds with other Nigerians from the Southern zones, “we remain Northerners and have always been so from the creation of Nigeria.
“Our region is identified by pluralism of faith and ethnic identities, as well as historical role as the bridge of the nation, which geography and our politics have made us.”
“Our history, destiny and mode of life have always been Northern and the Middle Belt zone is an integral part of the North.
“We reject any attempt to detach our communities from others in the North by negative and opportunistic interests or identify us with characteristics of faith or political disposition, which are fictional.”
Speaking further, he said he and his older colleagues in the North Central Zone, also known as the Middle Belt, were concerned that several statements have been credited to some persons claiming to be leaders of the Middle Belt Forum (MBF) and their friends in the Southern part of the country.