Dr. Doyin Okupe (former Special Assistant to former President Olusegun Obasanjo and also former Special Assistant to former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan on Media and publicity) led a delegation representing the Senate President to the Middlebelt Youth Patriotic Front’s meeting tagged ‘MIDDLEBELT STAKEHOLDERS CONVERSATION’, held at AFRINET BLUEBREEZE CENTRE in Southern Kaduna. It was a huge success. It looked like it would be cancelled when all invited guests were told that the delegation from Abuja weren’t coming as earlier scheduled due to unforeseen circumstances, hence the change of time from 10am – 3pm.
The meeting started at about 4pm just immediately the Dr. Doyin Okupe led delegation came into the venue.
The meeting started with an opening prayer by Rtd Grp Capt. Haruna, after which the meeting-regular started. The chairman of the meeting-Dr. Zwahu K. Bonat, said the opening remarks where he welcomed all members of the high table seated. The members of the high table were Dr. Zwahu K. Bonat, Dr. Benjamin Gugong, Barr. Solomom Musa (SOKAPU President), Mr. Kish Adamu, Engr. Bawa Magaji, Grp. Capt. Haruna, Arc. Nick Usman, Dr. John Danfulani, amongst other esteemed personalities.
He further welcomed Youths representatives from various states present, such as Youths representatives from Plateau, Nassarawa, Borno, Yobe, Hausa-Christians from Kano (Siyawa) represented by Rtd Major Abdullahi, Southern Bauchi, Southern Gombe, Kogi, Abuja, Southern Kebbi, Taraba, Niger, and Southern Kaduna (the host).
Dr. Okupe was specially welcomed by the chairman as he took the stage, after which he explained the reason for the meeting and further thanked Dr. Okupe for his presence in representing the Senate President.
Dr. Doyin Okupe had a lengthy conversation with the audience after which provisions were made for each state present to ask questions. Dr. Okupe too time to satisfactorily answer all questions raised by the Middlebelt member states.
The Chairman of CEDRA, Dr. John Danfulani questioned with much concern, if it were legal for a leader to act on issues that are not under his jurisdiction, as it pertains to H.E Governor El-Rufai paying terrorists of other nationalities outside Nigeria, who are known for attacking Southern Kaduna. He asked, if that does not amount to a case of felony, which he believed should be handled right to help check of the abounding threats of herdsmen in the Middlebelt and the Nation at large. Added to it was also the apartheid tendencies used in handling the issue of a journalist- Luka Binniyat, by the state government. This, he stated, was happening at a time the Arewa Youths threatened the whole nation with a quit notice to Igbo nationality but nothing was done to them despite the tendency of such triggering national chaos. He stated, the case of Luka Binniyat is that of selective justice, as the leadership of Miyetti Allah have been known to make more inciting statements which were proved false by the Nigerian Military.
The SOKAPU President, Barr. S. K. Musa solicited with the congregation to observe a minute silence to be observed for all those who were killed in the Middlebelt, simply for reason of their identity and/or what they represent. Afterwards, he prayed for a Nigeria where equity will be imbibed by its leaders.
The COMMUNIQUÉ issued on 15th September, 2017 read in part below;
The chairman of the occasion Dr. Z. K. A. Bonat issued the welcoming address stating the meeting was first of its kind and was meant to be an interaction of what the Middlebelt want for itself as a group of people who are structured and one toward resolves of same interests.
The representative to the Senate President, Dr. Doyin Okupe said he was embarrassed at the turn of events today in the Middlebelt, and was quoted as saying, “there is no one in Nigeria that have suffered like the Middlebelt politically… the Middlebelt are the most vilified”. He advised the Middlebelt to unite, no matter what it will cost them as anything can only be achieved with unity of purpose.
Amongst other issues raised and discussed, the following resolutions were conclusively resolved:
(i) It was unanimously agreed that, ” ON THE RESOLUTION OF THE 2014 CONFAB, WE STAND”. Thus, being our resolution also toward restructuring of Nigeria.
(ii) The members of the Middlebelt reject in totality the fallacy of anyone referring to it as a minority or Northern minority. This is a fallacy and not true, as the Middlebelt is made up of about 50million people, and are a composition of 14 States and the FCT.
(iii) The Middlebelt is well prepared and ready to produce and support a presidential candidate from its member states, and especially those who recognize its existence and ideals.
(iv) Further on the need for restructuring, the Middlebelt stakeholders called for equity and justice in the distribution of Constituencies. The present structures of constituencies were noted to be deliberately created to disenfranchise most member states of the Middlebelt.
Dr. Z.K. Bonat gave notable examples using Kaduna state, where it was noted with well-established statistical facts. He was quoted to have said, in Southern Kaduna, one will need about 63,000 to 70,000 Votes in some Local governments to win a house of Assembly member, whereas one will need only about 15,000 to 25,000 votes to win House Of Assembly in Northern Kaduna. Also, In Southern Kaduna, one will need about 500, 000 votes to win the senatorial seat, but in Kaduna North, one can get to the Senate with only about 120,000 votes.
In conclusion, calls were made for the continuous voters registration to be extended to victims of various attacked groups, especially those displaced in IDP camps. The members of the Middlebelt said it was ready to show its support to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in his duties toward ensuring Nigeria is governed with more fairness and Justice.
Long Live The Middlebelt.
Long Live The Federal Republic of Nigeria.