PLATEAU state in North Central Nigeria
prides itself as the home of peace and
tourism .The state with its diverse cultures
and people, and a population of 3.5 million,
used to be torn apart by ethno religious
and communal conflicts which did a lot of
damage to the socio-economic activities
of the state that was home to all Nigerians.
These crises not only resulted in the loss
of thousands of lives, but destruction of
property worth billions of naira. Of course
many had to flee from the state to seek
refuge in other parts of the country . The
story of the beleaguered state is changing
for better as the people of the once troubled
state now have cause to celebrate as peace
has been restored to the once troubled
state since Governor Simon Lalong came
into office in May29 2015 .The state’s chief
executive has been working day and night
to ensure that peace is restored to the state.
In Plateau state as it stands at the moment,
places which were hitherto tagged as “no
go areas” for certain groups or categories
of people no longer exist. People are free
to move to any part of the state without
molestation. The peace being enjoyed is
already attracting people and events to the
state. On resumption of office , Governor
Lalong , immediately set up a 14-man
Fulani/Berom peace committe to reconcile
their differences , all with the aim of ensuring
lasting peace in the area, and this went a
long way in restoring peace in the crisisprone
part of the country.That was not all.
Governor Lalong united all the tribes in the
state by carrying them along in governance.
Recently the Nigerian Bar association ,NBA,
held its National Executive Committee
,NEC, in Jos the state’s capital. The event
attracted lawyers from all over the country.
An Enugu-based lawyer who gave
his name simply as Ernest told our
correspondent that from what he saw in
the state , peace has been restored to Jos.
According to him “from what I have seen in
Plateau, peace has been restored in the state.
The people are friendly and the weather is
lovely.
I hope to return to Plateau after this visit. I am
considering coming with my family for a visit.”
He said governor Lalong should be
commended for uniting and carrying all tribes
along in governance and for ensuring that
lasting peace is restored in the state. “I am
calling on the people of the state to work with
governor Lalong in order to consolidate on the
peace currently been enjoyed in the state”, he
said.
A trader who sells Irish potatoes in Jos
,Agatha Okoh, said she had lots of patronage
with the visit of lawyers into the state. She
called on the state governor to invest in traders
and bring up friendly policies that would
attract business men and investors since peace
has been restored to the state. She also praised
the governor for his efforts at restoring lasting
peace in the state. Similarly peace being
enjoyed in the state is already attracting more
investors to the state as the State Commissioner
for Commerce and Industry, Hon. Ezekiel
Daju, has linked the achievements in the state
to relative peace being enjoyed in the state as
the state has never recorded any outbreak of
violent attack since the coming into office of the
present administration of the All Progressives
Congress ,APC.
According to Daju in a chat with newsmen
in Jos recently , peace is the hallmark of
developmental and infrastructure development
as well as “the cornerstone for positive
development in any society … Without peace,
no society can make meaningful progress. So,
because of the peace we are enjoying in the
state, a lot of business activities have increased
in the state.”
It could be recalled that the state recently
held a trade fair which attracted lots of
investors to the state . Similarly internationally
golfing tournaments have taken place in the
state in the past 20 months , while investors are
now coming into the state to invest and sign
Memorandum of Understanding , MoU,with
the state government.
Similarly festivities like Christmas and
sallah celebrations in the state for the past 20
months have been described as very peaceful
, as residents were seen going about their
businesses and observing them without any
form of inhibition.
Unlike in the past , fun centres were jam
packed with fun seekers, from the adults to
the children enjoying themselves .Danjuma
Tokgma , a citizen of Plateau said the peacefully
nature the last Christmas was celebrated in
Plateau has proven that peace has been restored
to Plateau., “Last Christmas was one of the
best celebrated in Plateau in over a decade ,
the Governor Simon Lalong led administration
has restored the image of Plateau back as the
home of peace and Tourism,” he said.
According to him, “Before now , residents
of the state had lived in fear , because of the
fear of been attacked, but on assumption of
office, Governor Lalong ,vowed to ensure that
lasting peace is restored to the state.” He said
Gov Lalong had immediately set up a 14-
man committee, seven each from the warring
Berom and Fulani communities, to reconcile
their differences towards lasting peace.
The governor pleaded with the warring
factions and also carried all tribes along in
governance and this brought about peace in
the state.Following the return of peace in the
state In Plateau state , even the opposition
parties are commending the Lalong- led
administration for bringing peace to the state.
But despite the peace been enjoyed in the state
at the moment , the Director of Press and Public
affairs to Governor Simon Lalong , Emmanuel
Nanle recently told our correspondent that
government would not take things for granted
as it will continue to sustain its effort on the
peace currently being enjoyed in the state.
Nanle said the Lalong- led administration
would also encourage institutions with ideas
that would contribute significantly to the peace
building process.To consolidate on the peace
currently been enjoyed in the state ,recently
Over 30 communities in the southern part of
Plateau state again vowed to stay peacefully
with one another.In an agreement, signed
in Shendam, LGA at the end of last year ,
the communities which comprises of six
local government areas: Langtang North,
Langtang South, Mikang, Qua’an Pan,
Shendam and Wase local government areas,
resolved to put aside their differences and
live in peace irrespective of tribe or religion.
The agreement was brokered by the
Geneva, Switzerland-based Centre for
Humanitarian Dialogue, HD, which is
an independent mediation organisation,
dedicated to helping improve global
response to armed conflict. It has been
mediating in the inter-communal disputes in
Plateau and Kaduna states.
The historic occasion tagged, ‘The Southern
Plateau Peace Declaration’, was witnessed
by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, W.
Stuart Symington, his German counterpart,
Ambassador Bernhard Schlagheck, Former
Chairman of the Economic and Financial
Crimes Commission, Assistant Inspector
General of Police, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu
(Rtd), Plateau State Governor, Mr. Simon
Lalong, Transition Committee Chairmen of
the six local government, traditional rulers
and member representing Wase Federal
Constituency, Idris Majei, amongst others.
Lalong, who was elated by the development,
said that the state has enjoyed relative peace
in the two years of his administration, which
has enabled concentrate on delivering
democracy dividends to the people.
He told the communities that by
continuously engaging in crisis, money
meant for development will be diverted into
private pockets in the guise of security votes,
adding that he was amazed at billions of naira
siphoned by the previous administration
and when he made inquiries he was told that
they were expended on security.
While commending HD for their efforts in
southern zone, the governor recalled that the
organisation had achieved similar feat in the
northern zone where it worked with Afizere,
Anaguta, Berom, Fulani, Hausa, Igbo, Southsouth
and the Yoruba communities, which
had resulted in peaceful co-existence in the
Northern senatorial zone.
He said, “I must say that the peace process
has laid the ground for strong foundations,
upon which more effective long-term work
in peace building, will logically develop and
progress,” stressing that it was for this reason
that he established the Plateau Peace Agency.
The US ambassador said that his country
was interested in peace on the Plateau
because Nigeria is an important partner that
the US could not ignore.Chairman of the
occasion, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, recalled
with nostalgia how many people had loved
to live in Plateau because of the serene
environment and expressed optimism that
those days would surely come back.
The lead mediator and HD Country
Director, Mrs. Alice Nderitu, in her welcome address, said that the signing of the
agreement was not an end in itself, but the
beginning of the peace process.
She said that HD seeks to improve the
practice of mediation and strengthen
capacity within the community of
mediators, adding that in that respect
the organisation carries out an extensive
programme of support activities, which
include providing advice as well as staff
and logistics to others mediating in armed
conflicts.
Nderitu urged the communities to uphold
the letters and spirit of the agreement
so as to entrench a culture of enduring
peace in the state and southern zone in
particularSpeaking at the occasion, Plateau
state governor Simon Lalong said his
administration would continue to promote
peace among citizens of the state.
He said “ The Plateau State Government
under my watch is resolved on facilitating
and supporting every process that will
encourage communities to continue
to employ dialogue across all levels of
engagements, as a viable tool for reducing
tension and resolving conflicts “
“This is the reason why my Government
created the Plateau Peace Building Agency,
with a view to having an institution of
Government that will serve strategically
as a central hub, for partnership building,
knowledge exchange and critical dialogue
and reflection across the State “”. It is heart
warming to note that the Plateau State Peace
Building Agency was involved in every step
of the dialogues, and will continue to work
closely with the Centre for Humanitarian
Dialogue, to promote peace through the
inter-communal dialogue module “.
The governor also said “the event is
remarkable because it marks the signing
of the Peace Declaration, culminating
from an inter- communal dialogue process
between the different communities in
Southern Plateau, and covering six flash
point local government of Langtang
North, Langtang South, Wase, Quan Pan,
Mikang and Shendam., I have kept faith
with the dialogue process initiated by the
Humanitarian Dialogue from inception; the
dialogue process which focused primarily
on continuous causes of tension that
include ; farmer/grazer conflicts; internally
displaced persons; cross-border disputes
between the LGAs, cattle rustling among
others, has come to the point of Public
declaration for peace “. By addressing the
various causes of tension and discontent
through a dialogue process, the affected
communities have been involved in
developing collective solutions to their
problems “.
“In early 2013, HD worked with the
communities in Jos on an inter-communal
dialogue process, driven, just like the
one here in Southern Plateau, by the
communities themselves.
This has resulted in a culture of dialogue
to solve differences and which has also
translated into the peaceful co-existence
between the Eight different communities
of Afizere, Anaguta, Berom, Fulani, Hausa,
Igbo, South-South, and Yoruba “. I am told
that one of the highlights of your discussions was when the Jos people joined you here in
Southern Plateau, to share their experiences on
how they succeeded in securing their peace,
you were motivated to begin the same process,
to address the peculiar conflict situations you
were confronted with “. The value of this
shared experience has no doubt paid off and
today the success story of the Southern Zone
Dialogue Sessions, stands to the credit of the
various communities in the Zone.”
He added: “I must say that this peace process
has laid the ground for strong foundations,
upon which more effective long-term work
in peace building, will logically develop and
progress. Each contribution that each of us
has made and will continue to make, either
as individuals or institutions, will ensure the
peaceful co-existence we seek in Plateau and
beyond .
“There are practical things we can continue Promoting economic development as a key
lever to ending violence in communities .
Also developing the economy and providing
jobs have the potential to promote cohesion
across communities.and also embracing the
language of profound change as we discuss
peaceful co-existence and reconciliation
between communities.
“Signing this Peace Declaration within
the Yuletide provides us a wonderful
opportunity to use the increased spiritual and
social interaction of the season, in positive
engagement, dialogue and learning between
communities “.
Let us not shy away from attending the
celebrations of communities other than our
own. These celebrations have particular
resonance and significance for individuals
and communities; they would provide the
opportunities to learn about each other and to do to consolidate on the framework for
achieving the sustainable peace which have
put in place, such as Investing in strategic
long term work with the youth in peace
building, as an essential aspect of promoting
the end of sectarian violence. This will act as
a great inhibitor to peaceful co-existence and open new lines of communication between
communities”.
“I highly recommend that we view this
key period, as an opportunity to create
new ways of working, to foster greater and
deeper understanding within and between
communities “.

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Lalong also thanked the German
government for the support accorded to
this process in the Southern Plateau.” We in
turn, as a Government, will continue to work
with not just HD but all other stakeholders
in the State, who have the interest of Plateau
people’s peaceful co-existence at heart.
According to the governor, “This is a long
term process and we are looking for long
term gains ,I acknowledge that the work
of transforming a society from conflict to
sustainable peace, will require long term
intervention and generational commitment.
Peace is priceless and the price of peace is
eternal vigilance and sacrifice for peace; This
is the price we are all committed to making in
our eternal effort to have sustainable peace.”
“Our Rescue Government is working with
a clear vision and objectives of securing a
legacy of peace, for the whole of Plateau.
This is not a dream, it has been achieved
in the Northern Zone and with the signing
of this Peace Declaration for the Southern
Zone, a clear signal has emerged that we
have agreed on a vision of peace, and are
prepared to commit to a future of peace that
belongs to all of us “.he added.Pius
Hommen, a citizen of Plateau state said
the people of the state were happy with
the peaceful co-existence among citizens
of the state , stressing that Gov Lalong,s
must be commended for his efforts at
restoring lasting peace in the state.Nagelu
Garba ,another citizen of the state said Gov
Lalong must be commended for his efforts
at restoring lasting peace in the state and
carrying all tribes along in governance, he
called on them to continue to support the
rescue administration in Plateau.
To consolidate on the peace in the state Gov.
Simon Lalong of Plateau recently appealed
to people of Dogo Nahawa community to
forgive those who killed hundreds of their
relations and embrace
peace.It would be recalled that 484 people
of the community, including women and
children, were massacred by unknown
gunmen on March 7, 2010.
Lalong, who was in the community
to celebrate Christmas with the orphans
and widows recently , told them to leave
vengeance for God.
The governor said God would avenge for
the people without them doing it themselves.
He added that “all we can do now is to pray
for peaceful rest for those killed and I appeal
to you to sustain and build on the existing
peace.”
Due to the peace been enjoyed in the State
, government has said it has concluded
plans to stage the maiden edition of Plateau
Carnival in Jos, the state capital,scheduled to
hold next week
The Plateau State Commissioner of
Culture, Tourism and Hospitality, Mr. John
Peter Mwankom disclosed this to newsmen
recently.
Meanwhile the United States Ambassador
to Nigeria, Stuart Symington has
commended Plateau Government’s efforts
towards restoring permanent peace to the
state.Symington gave the commendation on
at the opening of Justice and Security High
Level Dialogue holding in Jos.The dialogue
was organised by the West Africa Network
for Peace building ,WANEP, in partnership
with the Plateau Peace Building Agency
,PPBA,with the support of the United States

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