By Chris Ochayi
…Says Middle Belt has suffered enough to keep Nigeria one
A former member of the House of Representatives, Hon. David Idoko, representing Ogbadibo, Okpokwu, Ado Federal constituency in Benue State, has challenged leaders in northern Nigeria to move into villages, communities and hamlets in the region to fish out the perpetrators of the bombings and killings going on in the name of Boko Haram.
Idoko said the remarks credited to elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, calling on the Senate President, Senator David Mark, to resign from office for issuing a warning that Nigeria might split if the activities of Boko Haram were not checked, were uncalled for.
He also decried the comments by the Arewa Consultative Forum, ACF, and human rights activist, Mallam Shehu Sani, where they attacked Mark.
The former lawmaker noted that the statements made by Mark in Uyo at the Senate retreat were supposed to be corrective, but people are venting venomous anger on him. “I think that is not the issue. We should look at the substance of what he has said and really see if it could help solve the problem. We have a problem and we must agree that the problem is real. We have people who are killing unarmed women and children, just throwing bombs and killing them”, he stated.
“These are things that are peculiar to us in Nigeria only in places of worship and this is not correct and I think if people are getting sufficiently angry and they are saying leaders should please wake up and solve this problem. We have leaders in our communities, we have leaders in the National Assembly, we have leaders in the state Houses of Assembly, we have local government chairmen, these are all leaders and if you want the definition of leader, anybody whom God has given the opportunity to lead the people is a leader.
“Even in your house, you are a leader and I think that, in good faith, we should wake up and ask ourselves these questions: Can we correct these things? Can the leaders do what should be done for these things to stop? In those days when a visitor – and even till today – comes to a community and he is spending more than four, five days, the community leader must be told there’s a visitor in that community.
“And where I come from, Idoma land, it is difficult for the community not to know who is the odd one out in terms of acts of destruction or damage; so what the Senate President has said, I think that we must not read other meanings to it. Let us wake up, move into our communities, ask questions; let the leaders do what they should do to stop the wasting of lives.
“Just like Bishop Kukah said, we can’t be dancing on wet graves, we are human beings and unless you are not a human being, people should be sufficiently angry to try to solve these problems. Government is not supposed to fish out these people, we are supposed to point them out to government – it’s not in every village that you have the police, it’s not in every village that you have the army; there are indeed leaders whom government pays in most villages but not in every village.
“There are some villages that you have heads that are not even paid by government and so what we are saying is that the leadership of the North should sit together, including us who are leaders and let us fish out who these devils are; the economy in the North is crumbling and we can’t throw our eyes the other way and pretend these things are not happening.
“They are killing our brothers and sisters. The other issue clearly is that we must also guard our statements, if we say Nigeria is one; the people who fought for Nigeria to be one are basically the people of the Middle Belt. Where we come from in the Middle Belt, we suffered so much for the country to be one and so if the country is one, people can not afford not to allow us to talk when we see that the country is being destroyed and `frankly speaking too, we all owe each other the duty of care.
“I have served the nation for eight years in the National Assembly and I think that I owe the nation a duty of care to be able to talk like a leader and, if in my place there is somebody who is planning to do any dastardly act, I should quickly point him out to government and government will pick him up.”