Thursday, August 31, 2017. 09:10GMT
Middle Belt Ostracizes Paul Unongo Insisting That Middle Belt Region Is Not Part Of North

THE battle for autonomy among the constituent parts of the North raged, on Saturday, with youths from the Middle Belt drawing a battle line with Northern elders under the auspices of Northern Elders Forum (NEF) over the concept of one North.

While the youths, under the coalition of the Middle Belt Council, consisting of all groups representing the region, threatened to ostracise any individual of the Middle Belt extraction trying to undermine the political autonomy of the area, the elders insisted on the sanctity of the North as a monolithic entity.

The youth particularly listed a Second Republic Minister and current chairman of the NEF, Chief Paul Unongo, as one of those leaders of the Middle Belt, who risked being ostracized for allegedly undermining the autonomy of the Middle Belt.

The battle of wits came barely a week after a stalwart of the governing All Progressives Congress (APC), Ambassador Yahaya Kwande declared as a ruse, the existence of a geographical area called Middle Belt, separate from the perceived monolithic North.

Unongo, who is a former Minister of Mines and Power in the First Republic and hails from Benue State, an area considered to be the stronghold of Middle Belt, was recently appointed to lead the NEF following the demise of its chairman Alhaji Maitama Sule.

An angry president of the Middle Belt Youth Council, Emma Zopmal said in Jos, Plateau State, that there was nothing like a monolithic North, adding that the Middle Belt existed differently from the North. He frowned at the desperate nature of the northern Fulanis to overshadow and monopolise every other ethnic group. He vehemently declared that the Middle Belt can never be part of the North.

“Middle Belt exists differently from the North and there is nothing like monolithic North. We have lost elder Paul Unongo to the Arewas and he can never represent Middle Belt anywhere. The Northern Fulanis are very desperate to overshadow the Middle Belt. They have used us before but they cannot use us again. We the Middle Belt are never part of the North. We are different people.

“Unongo and others have lost the script long ago and therefore they are not relevant in the Middle Belt not even among the Arewas”

In a separate interview with Sunday Tribune, the Convener of the Middle Belt Patriotic Front, Mr Ibrahim Bunu, said Unongo could not speak for the Middle Belt.

“Our main leader widely recognised now is Professor Adamu Baike, who we strongly believe can take the Middle Belt to the next level. Right from the beginning, we have never been part of the North and will never be one. We have no alliance with the north.

“All these people from the Middle Belt romancing with the North are doing so for recognition and in order to make ends meet. They have no followers here in the Middle Belt. They have been ostracized. We are watching them.  2019 is just around the corner,” he said.

We should recall that the Fulanis are a minority tribe which only attached itself to the Hausa tribe to be referred to as Hausa/Fulanis. The Middle Belt region consists of parts of upper Kogi, Benue, Plateau, parts of lower Kaduna, Taraba, Parts of Adamawa and Bauchi, Nasarawa, Abuja, Niger, and parts of Kwara States.

Published by The Tribune.
Blogged by Jonas Rafeal.

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