MIDDLE-BELT CONGRESS DEMANDS HYDRO-POWER COMMISSION
United Middle-Belt Youth Congress (UMBYC) has called for the establishment of Middle- Belt Hydro-Power Dam Development Commission (HYPADDEC) for the electricity generating communities in the country. The group, comprising over 120 ethnic nationalities from the Middle Belt states said their growth had been hampered by long years of marginalization. The youths also lamented the dearth of infrastructure in the region.
The President General of the congress, Abuka Onalo Oma-baba, who led other national executive members on a visit to the corporate headquarters of The Sun Publishing Limited in Lagos on Monday, described the agitation as a natural right for the impoverished people of the region.
Onalo, a human rights lawyer said the congress had sought The Sun medium to make their voice heard at the national level. He described as alarming the discrimination and political alienation suffered by the people of the region in the successive leadership in the country. The group, that was received by the Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Femi Adesina reeled out its agitations and called on the government to reciprocate the positive contributions made by the people of the region to the nation by acceding to its demands.
'We shall increase our agitations for the establishment of this commission as a remedy for the suffering of the communities around the areas,' Onalo said.
The president urged the government to approve the 131 per cent revenue derivation demanded by the River Niger surrounding states as compensation for the effects of the hydro-power dam in the area.
While describing the region as the food basket of the nation, Onalo said the creation of the Middle-Belt Farming Development Commission would also harness the huge farming potentials of the people in the area.
'We are entitled to Middle-Belt Farming Commission, just as it is in the Niger Delta Development Commission. If the Niger Delta has oil, we are also utilizing the resources we have for the benefit of the country. Then, we too deserve as a matter of right, a farming development commission,' he argued.
The president explained that the teeming population of youths in the area were profitably engaged in farming, but regretted that their labour was hindered by such nagging problems like deplorable roads, lack of potable water and inadequate health facilities.
The group also demanded the allocation of 130 per cent of revenue derivation from farm products to Middle Belt states, through the commission. He said the agitation for the farming commission was to address these intolerable conditions.
Explaining the group's position on 2011 presidential election, Onalo said the youths would continue to shop for a credible candidate that has a Middle-Belt agenda at heart. He noted that the youths of the region had not endorsed any candidate and disassociated the association from the position earlier taken by some influential individuals from the region.
The president said he remained a strong advocate for the transfer of leadership baton to youths, citing the present Governor Babatunde Raji-Fashola of Lagos State as a new breed youthful leader with a track record of outstanding performance.
Other members of the group during the visit were the National Life Patron, Atanze Ndakabo, Yusuf Umaru and the Public Relations Officer, Abass Mafeng Choji.