By Golu Timothy |
This week, melting point looks at the emergence of the North Central Peoples Forum, the new platform that seeks to coordinate development, stability, security and welfare of the north central geopolitical zone of the country.
The last two editions of the column were solemn tributes to a hero, Chief Sam Nda-Isaiah (1962-2020), a man of big ideas whose life on earth ended painfully last December. May his good and great soul rest well in peace with the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen! Interestingly, the late Sam was the pioneer sub-committee Chairman, Publicity and mobilization of the NCPF.
Things are changing across human society and because of the dynamic nature of society and humanity, they will continue to change to meet contemporary necessities and fill in the gap thereby creating natural movements. This fits into the adage that says,” the only permanent thing in life is change itself”.
It is no more news that a new socio-political structure is coming up in the North Central zone of the nation known as the North Central Peoples Forum, NCPF. The purpose, according to its proponents, is to have a structure to negotiate the distribution of political power for the zone and possibly have in place sub-strutcures like the existing Niger Delta Development Commission and the newly created North East Development Commission.
The existing Middle Belt Forum, MBF is an organization formed by like-mind minority political personalities within majority of the northern states to advance the cause of their people in running the political affairs of their areas.
Elder statesmen like the late Joseph Tarka of Benue state, Baba Dokotri of Plateau, etc all came together to bring the minority tribes from the north west, north east and north central together to pursue political power and its even distribution. It became a very strong tool for mass mobilization, aggregation, articulation, advocacy, education, sensitization and coordination during the first republic in which many sons and daughters of the minority tribes were elected into federal and regional parliaments. The minority tribes from states such as Plateau, Benue, Adamawa, Gombe, Kogi, Nasarawa, Kwara, Niger, Borno, Yobe, Kebbi, Bauchi, Taraba, and the Federal Capital Territory regardless of religion and ethnic backgrounds were all together in the fight for socio-political emancipation represented by the middle belt struggle.
Now with the growing democratic norm of constitutionalism and due process, the efficacy of the middle belt forum is dissolving into a new political platform and structure for the justification of action and process. Interestingly most of those who believed in the middle belt struggle are now the new proponents of the new idea whose time they say, has come to fill in the gap to move the zone forward.
Because the middle belt forum, as powerful as it is, is not recognized by law, it has increasingly become limited in tackling and projecting the issues it was meant to resolve. It remains a strong pillar for the aggregation and articulation of issues affecting the minority population.
It was heavily built on good sentiments of minority marginalization and negligence and therefore its fame went wild even beyond its immediate environment to have attracted the solidarity of other similar activist bodies like the Afenifere, South-South Peoples Assembly, Ohaneze Ndigbo, etc. However, this piece is not to in anyway undermine the Middle Belt Forum which has done quite excellently in projecting and defending the interest of the disadvantaged northern minority tribes.
Advocates of this new platform argue that their aim is to advance the cause of the zone by using the platform to unite and offer all the six states and the FCT the opportunity to present a united front for every political and economic endeavor using the legal instrument. This is to achieve the goals of peace, stability, rapid industrialization and the exposition of the abundant potentials of the zone in areas of mining, agriculture, infrastructure, power sharing, youth and gender empowerment and safeguarding the territorial integrity of the zone.
This movement was initiated by a former minister, Arch Chief Gabriel Yakubu Aduku and within a short period, eminent personalities have joined the fray. In his inaugural address, Aduku said, “The socio-cultural, political and economic diversities of the zone simulate it as a microcosm of the macrocosm known as Nigeria, with rich human and mineral resources making the zone a unique divine arrangement for immense prosperity, development and leadership within the Nigerian federation”.
Just the way the NDDC and the NEDC were pursued and subsequently put in place as instruments for the development of the South South and North East geopolitical zones, the NCPF aimed at creating the North Central Development Commission, NCDC, but basically to have an umbrella recognized by law. Even though the NDDC and NEDC were created without any geopolitical struggles, the NCPF has taken this approach because of its socio-political disadvantage of not enjoying the support of those at the helm of affairs of the nation, which has principally been players from the core North and Southern parts of the country.