NIGERIA’S Middle Belt Forum (MBF) has dissociated itself from the recent attempt by the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers Association (AUFCDA) to block the movements of food items from northern Nigeria to the south of the country.
Over the weekend, AUFCDN decided to stop the transportation of food items to the south of the country in the hope to establish an economic blockade. Describing the action as a strike, the body said it took the action following the federal government’s failure to address the alleged killings of its members in parts of the country.
In recent weeks, there has been tension in southwest Nigeria over the actions of Fulani cattle herdsmen and in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, things recently spilled over at Shasha Market, with northern traders being attacked by irate local youths. In response, the AUFCDN demanded financial compensation from the federal government for its members and when this was not paid, it decided to mount an economic blockade.
Fulani youths decided to block the Ilorin-Jebba Expressway over the weekend, preventing lorries carrying food items like cattle, tomatoes, onions, pepper, grains and other commodities venturing southwards. However, the action appears to have hurt northern farmers more as their goods were rotting away and they were having to give them out at below-production costs.
With the Jebba road now open again, the blockade appears to have failed and northern farmers are relieved that they can now get their products to market. Dismissing the actions of the Fulani youths, the MBF said the people of the Middle Belt region shall continue to do business with their brothers in the southern part of the country by supplying abundant food items.
John Haruna, the secretary of the Kaduna State chapter of the MBF, said: “All ethnic nationalities within the Middle Belt region comprising of youths, farmers, traders artisans etc, from Benue, Kogi, Taraba, Plateau, Nassarawa, Adamawa, Southern Borno, Southern Kaduna, Southern Bauchi, Southern Yobe, Kebbi, Niger, Kwara, and the Federal Capital Territory Abuja have disassociated themselves from attempts and call by some disgruntled elements to block food supply to the southern part of the country. The position of AUFCDA does not represent the position of Middle Belters.
“Let it be known to this group AUFCDA, that the era of divide-and-rule by the so called core north is over, completely buried and gone for good. Such cannot be tolerated any longer as we no longer accept deceit and lies from anybody. The forum unequivocally advised those who are championing and supporting the call to rethink and desist from further making such an empty threat that will not auger well for them and their sponsors.”
Mr Haruna who described AUFCDA’s called as laughable and unacceptable, said nobody can stop the Middle Belt region from supplying food items to the south. He added that no amount of blackmail shall force the Middle Belt to part ways with Yorubas, Igbos, Ijaw, Binis, Ibibios and other ethnic nationalities in the south.
According to Mr Haruna, the Middle Belt is capable of feeding the entire nation including the so-called core north, so he called on southerners to remain calm and ignore the threats by the AUFCDA. He also warned against acts that could jeopardise the already existing good, harmonious working relationship between Middle Belters and southerners.
“In fact, Benue, Kogi and Taraba states alone can feed the entire Nigeria. We will not live any stone unturned to make sure we continue to maintain the existing good and cordial relationship with our southern brothers,” Mr Haruna said.