The people of southern Kaduna have thrown their weight behind the clamour for the restructuring of Nigeria. They noted that the exercise, in which they canvassed a state of their own, would redress alleged political and economic marginalisation the area had suffered over the years.
They pointed out that based on the last census figures, southern Kaduna has a population of over 3 million out of the total population of the entire state of over 6 million, which they believed, qualifies them to have a state.
This was contained in a keynote address by the former Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning in the state, Timothy Gandu, under the administration of late governor Ibrahim Patrick Yakowa. However, speaking angrily, Kaduna State deputy governor, Bala Bantex, who is also from southern Kaduna, asked his kinsmen and women to perish the thought and calling themselves Middle Belters.
In his goodwill message, Bantex disclosed that it would have been easy for the zone to get its state in 1994 under military regime when he led a delegation to the Aso Villa.
But, according to him, the traditional rulers and retired Generals from the area misusedthe opportunity when they insisted that Jaji village, along Zaria highway must be part ofthe new state, which the then Head of State, late General Sani Abacha denied.
The deputy governor accused his kinsmen of using the Southern Kaduna People’s Union’s (SOKAPU) platform to take over the functions and responsibilities of their elected leaders and representatives.
Gandu spoke on the theme: “The Future of Nigeria: Restructuring and Southern Kaduna”, at a town hall meeting organised by SOKAPU.
According to the former commissioner, some people or ethnic groups in the country did not have the population and landmass as that of southern Kaduna, but had states created for them. He noted that an existing state in the country had 17 local government areas withless population, while the proposed southern Kaduna State could boast of 12 local governments and over 3 million people, wondering: “So who wants to tell me that Nigeria should not be restructured. Nigeria must be restructured because the political and economic imbalance across the country is alarming.” He added: “The unity of Nigeria is negotiable because there is no justice and equity.
We from southern Kaduna are not northerners, we are Middle Belters. And on restructuring we stand. “The Hausa and Fulani in southern Kaduna are our brothers, but if we quarrel and fight, they should not run to Niger Republic, Mali or Chad to import Fulani to attack us. If we are brothers, we must stay together and resolve our differences rather than to run away to bring strangers to attack us.” “We must restructure because there is no industry, educational institutions, road networks in southern Kaduna.
Our people are not financially buoyant because we lack people in government to empower us. The deputy governor who spoke as a SOKAPU member shortly after delivering Governor Nasir El-rufai’s message on the occasion, however, restated that his people should stop addressing themselves as Middle Belters. Bantex further warned his people to stop agitation for state creation based on, “It is we versus them”.
But the advice was greeted with much murmuring and side talks, as the participants insisted that they were Middle Belters.