Former Ambassador of Nigeria to Switzerland, Ambassador Yahaya Kwande at the weekend described as unacceptable attempts by some leaders he described as ‘self-styled’ to drag the Middle Belt out of Northern Nigeria and into a coalition with the southern part of the country.
Kwande explained that while the Middle Belt share many bonds with other Nigerians from the three southern zones, it has become necessary to emphatically state that the people of the Middle Belt are Northerners, and have always been so from the creation of Nigeria.
Daily Trust reports that Kwande’s reaction is a direct attack on several statements attributed to a group known as the Middle Belt Forum claiming to represent all members of states in the Middle-Belt which recently allied with other regional blocs in the south.
The nonagenarian who is also the Deputy Chairman, Northern Elders Forum for the North Central zone stated that himself and other elder colleagues in the North Central disagree with the idea of a Middle Belt that goes beyond a geographical area of the North Central, adding that, “If they want to create a Christendom, then let us know, it is their right, but they cannot lump us all by bringing people from Zuru, Gwoza, Tafawa Balewa and call it Middle Belt.
Middle Belt is defined by a geographical area and comprises of Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa and Niger, all states in the North Central.”
He explained in a press briefing he had with selected journalists in Jos that “…there is no ambiguity regarding where our interests lie.
They are located with the interest of the people 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.”
He said the history, destiny and mode of life of the people of the Middle Belt have always been Northern and the region is an integral and proud part of the North stressing that, “we reject any attempt to detach our communities from others in the North by negative and opportunistic interests or to identify us with characteristics of faith or political disposition which are fictional.”
The former ambassador explained that glaring evidence that the Middle Belt was part and parcel of Northern Nigeria is why Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong is the Chairman
Northern Governors Forum while Rev. Yakubu Pam is the Northern Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).