The Middle-Belt Youth Council, MBYC, of the central part of Nigeria, has distanced itself from the three months’ vacation ultimatum issued to Igbos by ‘Northern Youth’ groups, saying, the Youth Council is ready to accommodate the Ohaneize Ndigbos in their states.
A statement issued Wednesday and signed by the CounciI's President, Emma Zopmal, stated that Middle-Belt has been a home for the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, South-South and the South-West without any form of discrimination against anyone.
The council, rather called on good people of Middle-Belt to first of all “support the Anti-grazing Bill,” stressing that grazing by Fulani herdsmen on their lands have become the major causes of conflicts in the region.
“We wish to express our profound gratitude to God for keeping us alive today. Middle-Belt Youth Council is extremely concerned about the ongoing regional tension in Nigeria today, and we want to make our position clear to the world.
“In the light of incessant threats to One Nigeria, posed by killer-herdsmen,’ we want to call on good people of Middle-Belt to, first of all, support the Anti-grazing Bill. Grazing by Fulani herdsmen on our land has become the major cause of conflicts in our region; therefore, we’re calling for the total ban on open grazing so as to save the lives of our people and their farmlands.
“Secondly, it’s no longer news that our country, Nigeria, is facing a daunting challenge of peace and unity, but we want to assure the good citizens of Nigeria that we have been a peace-loving people and we’ll continue to be. But, in an event one part of the country decides to go away as a separate entity, Middle-Belt is also ready to make an independent statement.
“We want to clarify those, who think that the Middle-Belt is part of the North: God created everywhere and everyone and He gave it to whom He chooses, and Middle-Belt is a creation of God and not man (Usman dan Fodio).
“Therefore, we choose what to use our land for, how to run it and where we want to be. Middle-Belt has been a home for the Ohanaeze Ndigbo, South-South and the South-West without any form of discrimination against anyone. We’ve accommodated every Nigerian for centuries now. We deserve respect and commendations,” it stated.
MBYC further stated that “If Arewa youths are sending away Igbos from their states, we, in the Middle-Belt, are ready to offer them accommodation in our lands (which is an inheritance from God, and nobody will take it away from us), for them to continue with their lives and businesses.”
It stressed that Southern Nigeria people should also know that “Middle-Belters” are not northerners, and we can never be because we’re not affiliated in terms of culture, language, education, economy, and general lifestyle.
“The Biafran struggle did not come as an accident but as a result of injustice and unfair treatment to regions, people or religion. Over the years, our federalism has been a fat lie that deprives political rights and freedom of some sections of the country, while others benefit immensely from it.
“Middle-Belt has been at the receiving end of this inequitable arrangement in which our people in Southern Kaduna, Southern Bauchi, Southern Borno, Southern Kebbi, Adamawa are under constant alienation and annihilation.
“Therefore, Middle-Belt strongly stands for reconstruction of Nigeria, not only restructuring. We’ll join hands with Southern Nigerian people to actualize it.
“In view of this press statement, we want to urge Middle-Belters to remain resolute in making sure we protect our future against the claims by the Hausa/Fulani. More so, for want of peace and unity of dear our country, Nigeria, we call on the Igbo nation to feel at home in the Middle-Belt in an event they are sent away from the Arewa land.”