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Nigeria: Middle Belt Group Backs ACF On Call For Referendum

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MORE reactions have trailed the call by the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) for a referendum to determine the future of the country, as minority ethnic groups have

voiced support for the call as well as the convocation of the Sovereign National Conference (SNC).

Some Igbo and Yoruba had earlier backed the call, describing it as the best thing to happen to the country if done by the Federal Government.

Reacting to the call, the Association of Middle Belt Ethnic Nationalities (ASOMBEN) said holding a referendum would help in re-negotiating the country with a caveat that the modalities for such should be carried out by the international community.

Speaking to Sunday Tribune, president of ASOMBEN, Sule Kwasau, said holding a plebiscite was long overdue, especially in view of the prevailing situations and in order to avoid “a pending anarchy.”

He pointed out that the people of the Middle Belt are not afraid to discuss the future of Nigeria, adding that it was what the minority groups in the country have been clamouring for over the years.

“It will help in renegotiating the basis of our existence. We have the right to say we want to go with the far North or we want to remain in the country. I am happy to hear that the secretary of the ACF is not opposed to it.

“So, if the ACF now said they want us to discuss the basis of our unity, I think it is a welcome development. We would support it wholeheartedly so long the modalities are going to be organised by the international community. We have no fear at all.

“If you look at the political history of Nigeria, this is an idea whose time has come. Anyone who opposes change becomes a victim of change. This is the time we shall be glad and rejoice in it.

“My take is that Nigeria, as an enterprise, is not working. Now that the observation has been made across different political divides and even by different regions in the country, let every patriotic Nigerian support this clarion call. It is better we come together as one people and discuss with all sense of sincerity,” he said.

In his own reaction, an elder statesman, who represented the North-Central zone in the 2014 National Conference, Elder Bulus Dareng, said the idea would make the different sections of the country come together to place every section where it properly belongs.

“The Middle Belt, I mean the minority in the North, are not afraid of referendum so far that we are going to be part of it. We are not afraid of anything. It will help us to voice out and make concrete decisions on where we want to belong. We are not shaking; we are in full support of it. It is a welcome idea,” he said.

Also speaking, a two-term member of House of Representatives, Honourable Bitrus Kaze, said the people of the Middle Belt would prefer to align itself with the  South to the North in view of what the geopolitical zone is going through at the hands of the far North.

We want a Sovereign National Conference – SOKAPU

In its own reaction, the Southern Kaduna People’s Conference (SOKAPU) says the union would prefer a Sovereign National Conference (SNC) as the future of the country is being discussed by different regional blocs.

Speaking in an interview on Saturday, spokesman for the union, Luka Biniyat, said that SOKAPU would want the SNC to decide the fate of the country.

“The position of SOKAPU on the future of the country is very clear, which is to have a Sovereign National Conference. If the majority of the parties agree to a referendum and it is transparently conducted by government and agreed to by all parties, we will also stand by that.

“We believe that the current structure and the constitution of the country cannot have a Nigeria that is enduring and sustainable and guarantee development in all parts,” he said.

‘We will protect interest of micro minority groups’

Also reacting, the chairman of the socio-cultural groups in Benue State and retired Comptroller of Prison, Iorbee Ihagh, said the interest of micro minority groups in the state will be protected anytime the country decides to have a referendum.

According to Ihagh, who also doubles as the President-General of Mdzough U Tiv Worldwide, the interest of all the ethnic groups that make up the country should be brought to the front burner at the conference.

He noted that in Benue, despite the fact that the Tiv and Idoma constitute the majority, “the interests of minority groups in the state are always welcome and protected.”

“You know we have Etulo tribe in Buruku Local Government Area of the state, I think they are not more than 5,000, yet they are well represented in the legislative arm of the council and state House of Assembly. So, we will continue to protect the interest of the minority groups”, Ihagh said.

‘Nigeria needs structural balancing’

Also, the Centre for Human Rights and Anti-corruption Crusade (CHURAC), a Niger Delta group, says “Nigeria was created by the British imperial government through that vexatious amalgamation of the Northern and Southern protectorates.”

National president of CHURAC, Cleric E. Alaowei, said this on Saturday in a statement made available to Sunday Tribune in Warri, Delta State.

“The indigenous people were not duly consulted when the colonial government joined these incompatible partners. We have had a series of political upheavals since independence simply because the foundation is faulty,” he said.


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