A former Minister of Information and current National President of the Middle Belt Forum, Prof. Jerry Gana, has told northerners preaching division that if Nigeria breaks, the minorities in the Middle Belt will not follow them. Gana said this while delivering a sermon at the St. Matthew’s Church, Maitama, Diocese of Abuja (Anglican Communion), in Abuja on Sunday. The Middle Belt is believed to have the largest number of ethnic groups in Nigeria.
The former minister, who was the guest preacher, therefore, lambasted the Coalition of Arewa Youth Groups for issuing a quit notice to Igbo living in the North. Gana said:
“They think when it comes to break-up, we will go along with the North. We have already told them that if they allow this country to break up, we are not going with the North. We are staying where we are. So, just take notice. If it comes to that, we will tell you that you are Arewa and we are ‘Middle-Belters.’
“We love Nigeria and it was changed to a federal system because of the minorities so that we can have a place. So, we love Nigeria but in the unlikely event that people want to go their way, the Arewa in the Sahel will go. But we will remain here in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”
The former minister also slammed a former Vice-Chancellor of the Ahmadu Bello University and the spokesperson for the Northern Elders Forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi, for supporting the quit notice issued by the northern youths. Gana said nobody had the right to dictate to a citizen of Nigeria where he could live. He added:
“One of them, who also spoke is a former vice-chancellor. I thank God he didn’t sign my certificate. My own was signed by Prof. Ishaya Audu. How can a man of that stature, of that status, of that level of leadership, says he supports the youths in Kaduna to give to other legitimate citizens, an order to go? Who are you? Who says that?
“In this country, there are no second-class citizens. We are all first class. We are all sons and daughters of this land and that was why I decided to call a conference of all the minorities from 14 states and we had to state in clear words that the quit notice was totally unconstitutional. This is our home.”
Gana said the way forward was for the Federal Government to embrace restructuring as the solution to the nation’s challenges or the nation would die. Gana, who said even former presidents were beginning to support restructuring, advised the All Progressives Congress-led Federal Government to entertain dialogue and debate. The ex-minister said:
“In democracy, dialogue is the language, consultation is the way. Two cannot work together unless they agree. So, there needs to be dialogue and mutual respect.
“Anywhere you have diversity of ethnicity or religion in the world, the type of system that works is federalism. And that is the way. And each one must build his federal system the way it suits him. It cannot be imposed; it cannot be engineered in favour of one person.”
Meanwhile, a former military Head of State, Gen. Yakubu Gowon, has urged Nigerians to shun all forms of violence, criminal acts and behaviour capable of dividing the country. The News Agency of Nigeria reported that Gowon made the call on Sunday in Sokoto at a one-day National Prayer Rally organised by Nigeria Prays.
“We should value the lives of our fellow human beings that God has created for a purpose. May we never take lives with impunity.
“We are offering fervent prayers that Nigerians will never raise their hands against one another. They should love one another irrespective of religious, ideological, political and ethnic affinities,” he added.
Gowon, the National Convener, Nigeria Prays, appealed to Nigerians to collectively pray for the speedy recovery of President Muhammadu Buhari. He also urged Nigerians to pray for the Acting President Yemi Osinbajo and leaders at all levels. He solicited for sustained prayers for peace, unity and socio-economic prosperity of Nigeria. Gowon said:
“Prayer can solve problems better and faster than soldiers, as well as physical weapons of war. I have no doubt in my heart that God will honour our collective prayer and intercession for our dear nation, as well as heal our nation of insecurity.”
“May we experience abundance of God’s mercy and showers of blessings over our lives and our nation as we raise our voices in heartfelt prayers today in Sokoto, ‘’ he said.
The North-West Zonal Coordinator of Nigeria Prays, Bishop Godwin Okafor, said the rally was organised to pray for sustained peace, unity and stability of Nigeria.