Rotational presidency has been dominating the permutations for the 2023 presidential elections. The northern and southern regions are currently at loggerheads over which region should produce the next president of Nigeria, but these two regions have forgotten that there is one other region that also make up the federation.
Evidently, the present political system have resolved to put competence and qualifications aside when it comes to governance in favour of rotational politics. But, in doing so, the system should not forget to include all the regions in its scheme of affairs.
Middle belt is not a region that is commonly found in geography textbooks across the world. But, in Nigeria, middle belt is a term used to describe the minority ethnic groups that separates the northern and the southern region. The term middle belt was first used during the struggle for Nigeria's independence. These minority tribes are mainly found in the lower and upper Benue river.
It was the late Joseph Tarka of blessed memory, that coined the term “middle belt” as a way of uniting the ethnic groups of the upper and lower Benue river basin. The United Middle Belt Forum, was a sociopolitical movement that was established to protect the interests of the minority ethnic groups that are found in between the northern and southern regions of Nigeria. It is worthy to note that, the middle belt is the region with the highest concentration of ethnic groups in the country.
J. S Tarka
Image culled from Facebook archives
Some of the ethnic groups that call the middle belt their home includes; Idoma, Tiv, Igala, Nupe, Igbira, Berom, Eggon, Taroh, Bajju, Chawai, Ngas(Yakubu Gowon's tribe), Mada, Goemai, Mwaghavul. Other ethnic groups in the middle belt includes; Irigwe, Bassa, Mushere, Lunguda, Margi, Higi, Mupun, and numerous other tribes. All these tribes can be found in Benue, Plateau, Niger, Kogi, Southern Kaduna, Taraba, Southern Yobe, Southern Bauchi, and Nasarawa states.
Image culled from center for Central Nigerian Development
Since the return to democracy, the unwritten rule of power rotation have not considered the middle belt as a potential front-runner for the presidency. The power vacuum is always contested and filled by either the northern or the southern region. Olusegun Obasanjo from southern region, ruled from 1999 to 2007. Umaru Yar'adua, from the northern region, ruled from 2007 until his death in 2010. Goodluck Jonathan, from the southern region, ruled from 2010 to 2015. Currently, the occupant of the nation's highest political office is from the northern region. This begs the question, when will the people of the middle belt region produce the next president of Nigeria?
The middle belt region, is arguably the biggest food producing region in the country. The region, just as its name implies, is the belt that is holding the country in place. The middle belt has sacrificed a lot for the unity of this country. Take the drafting of soldiers who fought the civil war for instance, the majority of the young men that were drafted to fight the civil war were from the middle belt region. This drafting exercise produced some of the country's finest military officers that performed brilliantly outside the country. The late Joshua Dogonyaro, who commanded the ECOMOG response force in Liberia, is from the middle belt region.
Image culled from This Day News
If at all, the proponents of rotational presidency will be fair and stick to the dictates of that ideology, then power should shift to the middle belt in 2023. Prominent and erudite politicians like former senate presidents, David Mark, and Bukola Saraki should be considered as potential candidates to replace the core north in 2023.
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