Prof. Ango Abdullahi
By John Shiklam
The Middle Belt Dialogue (MBD), an umbrella body of professionals and new breed politicians in the Middle Belt region, has described Boko Haram as the military wing of the northern political elite who seek to use Islam to dominate and control Nigeria.
The group, which was reacting to last week’s declaration by the Northern Elders Forum (NEF) that power must return to the North in 2015, also faulted the forum on its position on some national issues.
The spokesman of NEF and former Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu University (ABU), Zaria, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, had during a courtesy call on the Borno State Governor, Alhaji Kashim Shettima, said the North had the population to reclaim power in 2015.
He was also reported to have castigated President Goodluck Jonathan for declaring state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.
However, the MBD said it was saddened that in their desperate quest for power, the “northernists” were ignoring and fighting the very people, who helped to sustain them in power, namely the Niger Delta People and the Middle Belt.
Besides, the group in a statement by its facilitator, Mr. Rima Shawulu Kwewum, said the NEF was not competent to speak for the Middle Belt.
The MBD wondered why Abdullahi and others have resorted to such vituperations in spite of the fact that the Boko Haram leadership is yet to accept dialogue.
According to the group, Abdullahi and his NEF have not seen anything wrong with the ethnic and religious cleansing programme of Boko Haram, stressing that since the killings and destruction, they have neither condemned the killers nor sympathised with the victims.
“All they are concerned with is “amnesty” for the killers, and how the anarchy and mayhem being perpetrated by these ruthless killers and bombers will give them power”, he added.
“ The Middle Belt Dialogue (MBD) is not surprised that the Northern Elders Forum is concerned about protecting Boko Haram and not bothered about victims of the Boko Haram insurgency who are Christians, and ethnic groups of Northern Nigeria.
“After all, Boko Haram is acting out the script the leaders wrote for it. For some time now, in central and northern Borno State, commercial vehicles are stopped, Christians separated from Muslims and summarily executed; churches are primarily targeted for destruction and attack.
“ Boko Haram members we are told, has a camp where they keep kidnapped Christian women and children, – and at such camps, they execute Christians who refuse to renounce their faith.
“Old women and children playing around churches have been killed by Boko Haram, whose supporters and proponents two years ago gleefully told the media that Christians were responsible for bombing churches and attacking Christian worshippers with sophisticated guns.
“The Middle Belt Dialogue calls on Nigerians to pray and work for the total defeat of the retrogressive Boko Haram agenda. We need a new Nigeria, where every tribe, religion and group would be accorded equal rights, a Nigeria where religion or tribe will not be the basis for promotion or demotion”, the statement said.