The Forum of Presidents of Youth Organizations in the Middle Belt region met in Abuja on Friday 9th -10th December 2022 to look at common challenges facing the people of the region and the state of the nation in general and also elect a new leadership of the Forum. At the end of the two-day meeting, the Forum hereby issues a communique with the following resolutions:
1. The meeting did a comprehensive review of the security and economic situation of the Middle Belt states and came to the conclusion that the region has been badly affected by unfavorable policies of successive federal administrations in the country which have left the region grossly marginalized in terms of youth employment, empowerment for young people and general development. The Middle Belt is currently rated as the region with the highest rate of youth unemployment in the country.
2. The Forum is deeply saddened by the spate of insecurity in parts of the Middle Belt region which has left thousands of people dead and rendered many others homeless with thousands of widows and orphans.
3. The Forum sympathizes with families of victims of attacks carried out by herdsmen, bandits, and other terrorists operating in the Middle Belt.
4. The Forum equally sympathizes with families of security personnel who have lost their lives in the course of defending the people of the region and other parts of the country.
5. The Forum expresses deep concern over the sustained impunity that has reduced the Middle Belt region to a mere plantation where the bulk of the country’s food is produced to feed the nation, leaving the people of the region poorer and without anything to show for their sweat and contributions to the economic growth of the nation.
6. The Forum has resolved to step up advocacy through conventional means and on social media for the emancipation of the Middle Belt people from the shackles of oppression, intimidation, and suppression.
7. The Forum calls on President Muhammadu Buhari, as the Commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, to urgently convene a National Dialogue to address the worsening security situation across the country and to also address the agitations and concerns being expressed by Nigerians. This should be followed by the National Council of State meeting to find workable solutions to the spate of killings in different states of the federation.
8. The Forum endorses the use of vigilante groups and neighborhood watches to safeguard our communities since conventional security agencies have been overwhelmed by terrorists such as armed herdsmen who are operating within the region.
9. The Forum calls on all Middle Belt states which are yet to ban open grazing of cattle to do so urgently and to embrace ranching as the global best practice of animal husbandry. The Forum charges the rest of the region to enact anti-open grazing laws to give legal backing to the ban on open grazing and commends Benue State for being the pathfinder in the ranching revolution.
10. It is the considered stand of the Forum that Nigeria is ripe for the implementation of a Policy on ranching as captured in the National Livestock Transformation Plan that was adopted by the National Economic Council (NEC). This Forum believes that the policy will not only protect farming communities from attacks and herdsmen from cattle rustling but also lead to environmental protection, security of lives and property as well as guarantee food security.
11. The Forum calls on the Federal Government to publicly condemn the atrocities perpetrated by armed herdsmen, arrest and prosecutes the leadership of Miyetti Allah Kautal Hore and other Fulani Socio-cultural groups who have consistently admitted to the wanton killings and destruction of communities across the country.
12. Similarly, the Forum urges the Federal Government to proscribe all militant Fulani groups as was done in the case of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), given that the Global Terrorism Index has repeatedly ranked Fulani militia as the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world. Similarly, other extremist groups should be proscribed.
13. The Forum urges the Federal Government to increase the funding and equipping of security agencies, recruit additional police personnel, and improve their training to enable them to confront criminals.
14. The Forum calls on Mr. President to uphold his Oath of Office as President of all Nigerians and to lead in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He must be seen to be the President for everybody and for nobody.
15. The Forum appeals to President Buhari to respect the Federal Character Principle in appointments into key positions and siting of projects. The Middle Belt region has been badly treated in the past six years in the area of appointments at the federal level.
16. The Forum advocates for the allocation of more funds to states and local governments from the Federation Account with the recommendation that local governments should take 23 percent of the Federal Allocation, states should get 42 percent while the Federal Government takes 35 percent.
17. The Forum equally calls on states to step up their efforts in improving internally generated revenue to tackle development challenges and make life more meaningful for their people.
18. The Forum berates the Governor of Kaduna State over his handling of the security situation in his state, particularly the terrorist attacks taking place in Southern Kaduna where hundreds are killed on daily basis. The meeting also condemns the sacking of thousands of civil servants by the Kaduna State Governor, a decision that was apparently targeted at the people of the southern part of the state.
19. The Forum has resolved to embark on the enlightenment of Middle Belt people about the fictitious and deceitful agricultural policies of the Federal Government which are aimed at grabbing the people’s lands for herdsmen and their animals.
20. The Forum acknowledges and unanimously commends His Excellency Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State for championing the cause of equity, fairness, and justice as the leading voice for the voiceless in the country. The forum encourages Governor Ortom and the G5 Governors to remain steadfast and not be discouraged by the campaign of blackmail launched against them and them and their struggle by enemies of peace.
21. The Forum highly commends Governor Ortom for his bold step of identifying with EndSARS protesters in his state last year and his prompt decision to organize the Benue Youth Summit to address the challenges facing the young people of Benue State.
22. The Forum sympathizes with Benue, Plateau, Taraba, Nasarawa, Niger, and other states which have millions of internally displaced people living in IDP camps. The Forum urges the Federal Government to fulfill its promise of assisting the states facing humanitarian crises to facilitate the resettlement of the IDPs to their ancestral homes.
23. The Forum adopts ranching as the most viable solution to the farmer/herder crisis within the Middle Belt region.
24. The Forum calls on the National Assembly to enact a law conferring the status of a state on the Federal Capital Territory.
25. The Forum salutes the statesmanship and patriotism of some noted sons of the Middle Belt like Governor Samuel Ortom, General Theophilus Danjuma, Air Commodore Dan Suleiman, and His Eminence Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah who have chosen to stand on the side of truth and justice and have taken it upon themselves to stand up for our people even when it was not fashionable to do so.
26. The Middle Belt youths call for the resignation of Governor Simon Lalong as Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum for failing to coordinate his colleagues to bring a solution to the security challenges in the North and give way for a competent person to lead the forum.
27. The Forum returned the entire exco to run for a second term
28. The Forum mandates the re-elected exco to work for a southern Presidency to emerge in the 2023 general elections
29. The Forum mandates the re-elected exco to liaise with the G5 Governors to fight for fairness, equity, and justice for all Nigerians.
30. Finally, the Forum appreciates Nigerians in other parts of the country for sympathizing with people of the Middle Belt in their time of anguish in the face of wanton killings and other devilish acts of terrorism.
Thank you and God bless you all.
In attendance are:
1. Terrence Quantum
Benue Youth Forum
2. Daniel Bichi
President Youth Wing
Gombe south People’s Assembly
3. Frank Olu
Kwara youth vanguard
Kogi Youth Forum
5. Bibianne Danjuma
Taraba youth assembly
6. Darren Kuba
Nasarawa youth movement for good governance
Bauchi youth Forum
8. Friday Egan
Niger Youth Forum
9. Maryamu Dauda
Plateau youth movement for good governance
10. Chechat Joseph
Southern Kaduna Youth Assembly
11. Sanda Eijo
Adamawa South youth Assembly
12. George Oro
FCT indigenous youth movement
Benue Youth Forum.