Mallam Nasir el-Rufai
By John Shiklam
The Middle Belt Youth Forum (MBYF) Sunday warned that it would no longer tolerate any further attempt by the northern oligarchy to continue to marginalise and oppress ethnic minorities in the region on the basis of tribe and religion.
The forum was reacting to the alleged rejection of the nomination of Brig. Gen. Bitrus Boka Ushe (rtd) from Kebbi State for appointment as minister by the chairman of the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Alhaji Mansur Shehu.
In a statement in Kaduna, the group described the party’s chairman action and reasons given for Ushe’s rejection as myopic and discriminative, saying northern ethnic minorities would no longer tolerate any form of marginalisation and discrimination in the affairs of Nigeria.
The party chairman was reported to have rejected Ushe’s nomination on grounds that he was not a member of the PDP or contribute to the development of the state.
But, MBYF in the statement signed by its National Leader, Hon. Jonathan Asake, maintained that Shehu’s decision was simply based on sentiments and bias.
Asake argued that Ushe was rejected by the party’s chairman because he was from a minority tribe from Zuru, pointing out that being a member of PDP had never been a precondition for appointments.
“When has the membership of a party become a precondition for ministerial appointment? The 1999 constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria only provided for each state of the federation to produce a minister, but did not in any way suggest that a person so nominated must belong to a particular political party, tribe or religion.
“It is very obvious that the PDP chairman and his cohorts who are opposed to the nomination of Ushe are doing so simply because of the fact that he is a minority and a Christian from Zuru.
“For a long time ethnic minorities in Kebbi state, in spite of their education and the most industrious people have continued to be discrimination and marginalisation in the hands of their oppressors.
“It may interest the party chairman in Kebbi state to know that former President Obasanjo appointed Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, as FCT Minister even though he was never a card carrying member of the PDP and never identified himself with the party throughout his tenure as minister.
“Also, the late Chief Bola Ige, and Mrs. Dupe Adelaja, both of who were chieftains of the defunct Alliance for Democracy (AD) were appointed ministers in spite of the fact that they were in the opposition party. Similarly, the late Mr. Steven Akiga and Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala were never known to be card carrying members of any political party, yet they were appointed ministers of police affairs and finance respectively,” he argued.
The statement further pointed out that during the administration of the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, Alhaji Ibrahim Dasuki Nakande, a Hausa Fulani Muslim from Sokoto state who lives in Jos was appointed as a minister representing Plateau state, a predominantly Christian state against the wishes of the Plateau people.
“The late President made it categorically clear to those that dared to object to the appointment that it was deliberately given to the Hausa-Fulani settlers in Jos, who to him, did not stand the chance of being fairly considered for appointments in the state.
“The people are also a minority who do not stand the chance of being fairly treated in the affairs of Kebbi state and therefore the nomination of Gen. Ushe by President Jonathan is to be seen in the same light as the appointment of Dasuki Nakande by Late Yar’Adua,” the statement added.
The forum stressed that, “the people of Zuru Emirate have for long been marginalised. It is worthy of note that since 1999 till date, Zuru emirate has been the mainstay of the PDP in Kebbi State. Almost the entire votes that Mr. President scored in the 20011 Presidential election in Kebbi State came from Zuru Emirate.
“We wish to warned that we will no longer tolerate any further attempt to continue to marginalise northern minorities on the basis of tribe or religion. For a long time, some elements in the north have perpetually oppressed northern minorities for no just cause other than on ethnic and religious grounds and this must stop because we are all stakeholders in the Nigerian nation.”