Many have seen the recent formation of the North Central Peoples Forum (NCPF) as being seen by many as vote of no confidence on the umbrella organisation of the north, the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), even as the forum has denied the insinuation, insisting that the leaders of the new group are still members of the ACF, the same way anyone from the North can be a member.
National Publicity Secretary, Emmanuel Yawe in an interview with Sunday Telegraph said that ACF is an umbrella for the whole region and each enclave within it is also free to associate as they deemed fit.
But the Southern Kaduna Peoples Union (SOKAPU) disagreed with ACF, saying that the forum only serves the interest of the core north.
The immediate past Secretary – General of ACF, Anthony Sani said NCPF is just a local platform and did not mean a break away from ACF. Sani said it was an association meant to concentrate energy on the development of the North Central and exist to complement the efforts of the ACF.
However, for Emmanuel Yawe of the ACF: “We consider them as part of our family. The ACF is led by sober and large hearted people who have big dreams to bring the various people of the north together for rapid economic, political and social development. “They can belong to North East, North West or North Central.
As long as they are part of the north and share our vision of the north, we consider them part of Arewa Consultative Forum. “Thank God, the group has clarified the position. They are not a breakaway faction.”
On their part, SOKAPU said the formation of NCPF “is a super positive development and long awaited, even though it will be subsumed under the Middle Belt Forum, in which Southern Kaduna is an active member. “SOKAPU is in support of all the ethnic nationalities of the Middle Belt pulling out of that contraption called ACF that serves only as a ruse to hoodwink Nigeria that there is one united monolithic Northern Nigeria.
“While we applaud the formation of the NCPF, SOKAPU wants to note that some of the principal persons that make up the breakaway group were once active members of the ACF to the consternation of the Middle Belt family. “They must note that the Middle Belt Forum remains the only recognised pan Middle Belt umbrella group. Their allegiance must be with the MBF in which SOKAPU is an active member.”
Biniyat continued: “The ACF has meant little or nothing for Southern Kaduna but serves as a ruse to pursue the interest of the core north under a false ‘One North’ that has truly never existed. “The truth should be sinking into everyone that a united, monolithic north, if it ever existed, is finally dead and buried, no matter the number of Middle Belt persons they are fronting as leaders of the ACF.”
But the immediate past Secretary-General of ACF, Anthony Sani differs. “The formation of North Central People’s Forum does not in any way amount to break away from Arewa Consultative Forum.
It is a local platform meant to concentrate its efforts of complementing in the socioeconomic development of North Central geopolitical zone. “After all, states and geopolitical zones in places like North Central (NC), North East (NE) and North West (NW) Governors fora exist to complement the efforts of the Northern States Governors Forum.”
This is the line towed by the Senator representing Kwara Central, Dr. Ibrahim Oloriegbe, who said: “I only read about it in the newspapers. I was not consulted not invited by anybody to the meeting.
“However, most people who attended the meeting from Kwara State share the same political aspirations with me and they are credible people. We belong to the same political party. And I know they cannot misrepresent Kwara State.
The idea behind the formation as I gathered is noble and it is for the betterment and progress of the zone and the respective states comprising the zone. I will support anything that is noble like this Forum.” A former Chief Whip, Kwara State House of Assembly in the second Republic and a Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief Wole Oke, reacted thus: “I remember in the years past, we used to have Middle Belt Forum (MBF). I have attended the Forum’s meeting on several occasions
. The Forum was to create definite identity for the people of the middle belt who, by all definitions, are not Hausa or Fulani but who have found themselves continually subjected to oppression and suppression. “I am also aware of another association by the name Middle Belt Peoples Assembly with objectives not too dissimilar from that of the MBF.
The floating of the new Peoples’ Forum is not out of place if it is designed for the development of the region. North Central deserves, for instance, its own Development Commission and such other development oriented Federal Government sponsored/ established agencies/ bodies.
What is good for the goose is also good for the gander. The new Forum is in order if only to constitute the needed pressure group for the development of the geo political zone.”
A Chieftain of Afenifere Renewal Group in Kwara State, Prince Ibrahim Adebara, however, held a contrary view, particularly with some people behind the formation of the new Forum.
He said: “As far as the formation of the Forum is concerned, I have my reservations for some of the leaders who claimed to have formed it. It is unfortunate. I believe they did what they did since they
(some of the leaders) were no longer relevant in the scheme of things with the present regime.
Were they not the beneficiaries in the past? With whom did they discuss before the charting of a new course? Who were the stakeholders that took such a major decision? Where was the town hall meeting held to raise such voices? I am sceptical about the whole thing.