From Teryima Ajijah, Jos
A group called “United Middle Belt Youth Initiative (UMBYI), has advocated for adequate political recognition of the wants and desires of citizens of the middle belt region come 2023.
UMBYI President, Comrade Yakubu Solomon Sule, who is also the founder of the group, made their opinion public during a press conference held in Jos, the Plateau state capital on Thursday.
Come Sule insisted that UMBYI and its supporters will support and vote for only political parties and their presidential candidate who share in their ideology as middle belters.
He worried that people of the middle belt have been neglected politically “the 2023 general election is fast approaching and they are coming with their usual songs of 19 northern states, however, the United Middle Belt Youth Initiative has resolved to support and stand with whoever that has the interest of the middle belt at heart, we will no longer allow ourselves to be used as tools by those that think that they are our slave masters,” he insisted.
Comr Sule revealed political and economic value of the middle belt region to Nigeria as a country. He said, “the middle belt area comprising a landmass of more than 300,000 square km with an estimated population of 60 to 80 million people. It’s the largest of any region with most fertile farm-land and highest endowment in terms of mineral and natural resources.”
Sule, however, noted sadly that the true identity, value and cultural heritage of the middle belt people is not being accorded needed priority by successive administrations; therefore, it gave reason for creating the group.
“The vision of this movement started in the year 2011 during my National Youth Service in Enugu south East Nigeria, there was post-election crises in Nigeria, particularly northern part of Nigeria where many corps members were killed, unfortunately many of them were from the middle belt because of their names, state of origin,” he stated.
He explained further that “in the course of this trauma, I started asking myself many questions, does it mean I don’t have an identity, does it mean I am a slave? In the north am called Dan Kogi while in the south am called Aboki or Onyi Hausa. I tried to explain to both sides all proved abortive.”