There are strong indications that the people of the North Central geo-political zone, specifically those states that make up what is known and called the Middle Belt, may be compelled to petition President Mohammedu Buhari over the restriction of his government’s reconstruction of areas devastated by violence to only the Northeast. Their grievance is simple and logical: Their places too have been bombed and destroyed by Boko Haram terrorist and on the other hand by cattle rearers.
Though, the killings in the zone did not start during General Buhari’s tenure, the people of the zone are visibly disappointed with President Buhari, for deliberately refusing to include the Middle belt in his request to both the G7 meeting in Germany and most recent official visit the United States of America US during his recent official visit.
Other areas of the zone which had been devastated and traumatised by violence and deserve similar attention been paid to the Northeast are Nasarawa and Benue states as well as in some parts of Kaduna and Taraba states. For a long time members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria have been accused of perpetuating killings in the Middle Belt, beside the politically motivated killings that ravaged Plateau State from 1998 through 2005.
More worrisome, as it is being expressed in some quarters is the increasing sense and feeling of neglect by Federal Government as indicated in the exclusion of the zone in the President’s plea for assistance from the international community. Currently, the zone’s social media platform called “Middle-Belt Dialogue” is sensitizing and coordinating views of the people on the alleged neglect by the Federal Government. It has expressed such strong views that go into the heart of the matter: “Despite the wanton destruction and lost of lives in the middle belt, no government of the middle belt states is making any request for reconstruction of the destroyed habitation of our people. “The federal government is expending heavy budget to rebuild the northeast with no mention of the middle belt. ”
Plateau state is harboring significant number of the IDPs from the north east and the federal government is not saying anything about supporting the state in this feat. ”Our communities are in ruins and no one is talking. Some middle belters, up till now still licks their wounds from the 2015 elections. Besides, Plateau crisis is deepened as many facts are coming out when Fulani herdsmen began their killing spree, sacking communities in Wase ,Riyom, Barkin Ladi and JOs North LGAs.”
In the Kadarko district of Wase Local Government Area in Plateau, for instance, the elders have blamed the killing and cattle rustling on misapplied religion, government support and tribal gang-up against the Tarok speaking natives. The spokesperson of the group Mr Nankap Dombin who made this known in a statement available to The UNION in Jos said the political gangsters have been the major causes of incessant attacks and cattle rustling in many areas in the zone including his own Wase LGA. He appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari and Governor Simon Bako Lalong to ensure that a committee on reconciliation is set to address the challenges faced in managing the affairs of the people.
Dombin traced the violence Wase to the appointments made by former governors Chief Joshua Dariye and Sen. Jonah David Jang both of whom he accused of appointing only persons of Islamic faith to head the administration of the LGA to the detriment of Christians whom he said make up 70 percent of the population occupying over 200 villages but have been schemed out of control of resources through frustration and cheap blackmail.
These scheming, according to him led to hatred, land dispute that has ravaged the people of Wase, compounded disputed LG chairmanship elections which led to loss of lives properties in 1998. Dombin argues that until proper reconstruction of the similarly affected areas in the state is done and government rises up to tackle the problem of insecurity in the country and tribal domination, it will be impossible to restore a sense of belonging among people of the zone, particularly Plateau State, which has been serially affected by violence of all kinds. Other community leaders also decry abandonment and neglect from the federal government after the military invaded and destroyed their houses nothing has been done to bring relief materials to the victims.
They pointed out that since the incident occurred people have been walloping in poverty without medical attention from either the Federal, state and local governments. “We are calling on concern individual to come to our rescue because many pregnant women are suffering for lack of attention due to absence of motorable roads linking the affected communities”.
The group asserted that the first chairmanship elections, which were conducted in 1978 made a Tarok, Yakubu Idris a winner but then Governor Solomon Daushep Lar refused to result to stand. The crisis in Plateau state which began in the early 1998 in Wase local government before spreading across the entire 17 local government councils cost no fewer than the lives of 5,000 people with continued hatred and religion bigotry among the two dominate religious as residue.
The 1998 was a transformational year of violent election or a reprise of violent electoral disenfranchisement in Wase leading to the displacement of Tarok that spread across the Jos North, Yelwa Shendam LG , Barkin Ladi, Riyom, Bokkos including other Local government. Attempts by both the state and Federal Government to restore order through Task Force and probe has not gone far to the root of the aforementioned problems of Then with the coming of the bombs as another tool to violence, the state zone continued to witness blasts with the first bomb lbast recorded in Gada biu, Angwan Nasarawa Gwom, followed by three others in terminus market on 23rd December, 2010, cascading along with the recurring problem of insecurity across the zone and the nation.
The political alliances by politicians have not been able to restore order as the alliances among the elites can be so fluid as to to encourage factional interest with little community benefiting by murdering and causing civil unrest. However, the dimension of conflict generated by competition becomes more complex in democracies of the third world and particularly Plateau where ethnicity has permeated every facet of state life, the ongoing insurgent activities perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect in Wase , Jos North ,Barkin Ladi and Riyom Plateau varying from bombing ,maiming and killing of innocent citizens in the polity cannot be dissociated from the power tussle between the Christian and Muslim with cultural pluralism therefore engenders minority /majority dichotomy and perceived asymmetric access to power.
Many churches have been burnt down, many people are killed and rendered homeless while properties worth millions of Naira are destroyed. The result is destitution, psychological and emotional trauma that can hardly be healed in many people, particularly those forced to relocate from their places of abode for fear of terrorists attack.
Corroborating the challenging times for the state, a member representing Jos south Local Government at the Plateau state House of Assembly. Hon Nyam Dareng condemned the act of brutality in the state and called on governments to come to the rescue of the He urged Governor Bar. Simon Bako Lalong to take proactive measure toward ending the secret killings going in the state and stop what he calls the government’s cheap political blackmail to destroy the legacy of the past regime. “What I know is that the development during Jang cannot be compare to anywhere in the country.”, he said,
-Yakubu Wuyep in Jos reports on the building ill-feeling towards the Federal government for excluding them in the proposed reconstruction for the Northeast areas devastated by Boko Haram