Gana rallies middle belt for political actualisation
The chairman Middle Belt Forum, Jerry Gana, has stated that the Middle Belt part of Nigeria helped President Goodluck Jonathan win the 2011 elections. He said despite this, the region has not gotten its pride of place in the present administration.
Mr. Gana said this on Saturday in Jos, at a two-day sensitisation workshop for ethnic minorities of Northern Nigeria, organised by Stefanus Foundation, a non-governmental organisation fighting for the rights of the oppressed; particularly victims of ethno-religious violence in Nigeria.
Participants were drawn from 15 states as well as Abuja.
“We used one man vote system to put Jonathan where he is today, we shall use the same strategy to put in who we will decide later,” Mr. Gana said.
According to the elder statesman in an address at the workshop, minorities of the middle belt were neglected by most administrations that have governed the country.
“We need political empowerment to boost our economic potential. We have the manpower and resources; therefore we are better than region that has oil and gas. We must remain resolute in our quest. We have all its takes to realise our goal,” he said.
In an interview with journalists after the event, Mr. Gana spoke on the agitations of some factional People Democratic People, PDP, members for Mr. Jonathan to declare his intention towards 2015 elections. The former minister of Information said the President was being democratic by remaining mute on the issue.
“Nigeria as a country should outgrow democracy of confrontations. If we elect someone, we should be thinking of good governance, not just another election without seeing the dividends of the present governance. Nigerians should allow Jonathan provide us with needed democratic benefits such as good education, better roads and other amenities,” he said.
On the call for former PDP lawmakers who defected to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, to vacate their seats, Mr. Gana insisted that it was the position of the law, not PDP’s as a party.
“The law says if you leave your political party, you should also vacate the office. Let’s go back to the people through election; if they decide that you should come back then fine, but you cannot leave the platform which brought you in and remain in office,” he said.
The coordinator of the workshop, Mark Lipdo, noted with concern the level of marginalisation of minorities from the northern region. He said people must rise up to defend their rights through non-violent means.
He challenged authorities in power to ensure equal rights and justice for all, as a means of ensuring good governance to the people. Mr. said that ethno-religious clashes had worsened poverty levels within the northern region, thereby forcing many into becoming slaves and orphans in their ancestral land.
In his presentation titled, The middle in Nigerian Political History, Yusuf Turaki blamed the geopolitical mapping of the country for the relegation of the middle belt.
According to him, middle belt region was larger and more endowed with human and natural resources, therefore the ethnic minorities living in it were being enslaved by other regions.
“Ethnic minorities of the middle belt have been victims of cultural, religious and ethnic crisis. Minority ethnic groups who fought in the civil war have been abandoned,” he said.
The paper discussed the menace Boko Haram posed to the country, and suggested that government check the uprising to avoid further harm to the people.
The workshop will end on Sunday.