SITTING at the middle of the country`s
landscape, Plateau state is endowed
with lots of beautiful features such as,
the fascinating rock sceneries; uniquely
pleasant weather conditions; varieties of
fresh agricultural food products; divers
ethnic groups; huge deposits of tin and
other mineral resources and; the highly
(but not fanatically) religious, industrious,
and accommodating people to mention but
a few. I was privileged to have my first feel
of the state in the late 80s as a student of
the prestigious University of Jos. Though
resident in the hostels, I capitalized on
every opportunity to `enter town` (the
slang used then, when going outside the
university environment for various and
sundry reasons). These trips were made
pleasurably easy and stress-free as a result
of smooth flow of traffic and, the excitingly
secured and friendly atmosphere.
Therefore, it was not surprising that within
a short while, I had visited almost every
nook and cranny of the capital city of Jos.
The experience was indeed very pleasant
and it gave absolute credence to making
reference to the state as, the `home of peace
and tourism`. Little wonder, when, for
some pressing reasons, I had to relocate to
Lagos to continue my education, I left with
sweet memories and, a resolve to return
whenever destiny permits.
As providence would have it, I was
posted back to the state for my National
Youth Service Corps (NYSC) in the early
90s where I served as a Protocol Officer
in the Deputy Governor`s Office. This
assignment afforded me the opportunity
to travel to several other local government
areas within the state (which included the
present Nasarawa state). It was during this
period that I had a better feel of the rich
cultural values and, the highly hospitable
and peaceful nature of the people. The
love and care showered on us (I and two
other corps members) by His Excellency
and other workers in the office were
second to none. In a matter of few days, I
had bought into their various traditional
delicacies/beverages and was home and
dry with the people. There was no form of
discrimination from any quarter and, this
gave me the impetus to put in my very
best to serving the state and the nation.
Consequently, I went beyond the scope
of my primary assignment to embarking
on self sponsored Youth Enlightenment
Campaigns with several published articles
on various national issues. I also carried
out One-Man Demonstrations/Road
Shows (with adequate media coverage) to
sensitize the people on the need for free
and fair elections (in the days preceding
June 12, 1993 elections) and, to disabuse
their minds from resulting to violence as a
results of its annulment. It is important to
mention that many lives (including those
of some corps members) were lost to road
accidents as a result of people embarking
on impromptu and panicky migration
across the country for fear of the unknown.
At the end of the day, Plateau maintained its peace and remained `home away from
home` to other ethnic nationalities.
Today, some unscrupulous elements and
destroy this laudable reputation by the spate
of recent wanton destruction of lives and
properties in some parts of the state. This
review will deliberately not make references
to any particular incident in order not to open
fresh wounds and bring sad memories to
the fore. Its main objective is to sensitize the
people on the need to put hands together to
forestall the evil trend. In as much as it is true
and normal for divergent human interests
to sometimes come into conflict and breed
misunderstandings/disputes, the people
had always found amicable ways of settling
their differences and moving on with life.
However, when those that had peacefully and
harmoniously lived together for decades now
resorted to killing one another as the only
solution to their challenges, it then becomes
very worrisome and saddening. Logically,
it means that these crises go beyond the
ordinary and, there are more to them than
meet the eyes.
From whichever angle we look at it, this
shows that, the people are gradually losing
the spirit and heart of tolerating one another.
It means that the activities and utterances
of hatred by some bad eggs in our societies
are systematically sowing seeds of discord
in the minds of the people.Instead of the
usual bond of love, they have begun to
see themselves as incompatibly divided
along ethnic and religious lines. Ordinarily religion and ethnicity are very important
components which ought to boost moral
uprightness, socio-political co-operation
and economic advancements in the society;
but the unpatriotic elements have converted
them to readily available tools for tearing the
people apart. Though, these skirmishes are
not peculiar to any one particular community
or state; the enemies are gradually and
strategically shifting their evil acts to the
center with the aim that, it would be easier
to spread to other parts of the country. These
happenings should be a cause of concern to
all patriotic citizens because, the seemingly
`minor communal clashes` could lead to total
breakdown of law and order if handled with
kid gloves. Therefore, the strong directives
of Mr. President to security agencies and
the efforts of the state government towards
ensuring that the menace are put under
checks are on point/commendable and
deserved the support of all and sundry.
Consequent upon the aforementioned,
I would implore the relevant arms of the
law to embark on thorough investigations
and intelligence gathering towards getting
to the root causes of these problems. The
masterminds and perpetrators must be fished
out to face the full wrath of the law and to
serve as deterrent to others.
All well meaning people should use every
available avenue to disabuse the minds of
the people from embracing the negativities
of religion and tribal ethnocentrism. We
must learn to tolerate one another and be
our brothers` keepers. This would make it so
difficult, if not impossible, for the enemy to
penetrate and cause disharmony amongst us.
In view of this understanding, our Religious/
Traditional/Community leaders should
always drum it into the ears of their followers
and subjects to always see and treat people of
different affiliations as one.
Though Section 41 of the 1999 Constitution
provides for the, Right to move freely
throughout Nigeria and to reside in any
part thereof; we should always have it in
mind that the beliefs and socio-cultural and
economic values of the host communities
must be accorded all due respect and, this
should equally be reciprocated by the later.
No person or group of persons should take
the sanctity and rights of others for granted.
Corps members should take it as a form of
national obligation to continuously educate
and sensitize the people in their areas of
primary assignments on the need to see
themselves as brothers regardless of tribal
and religious differences.
The National Orientation Agency (NOA)
and other relevant bodies should embark on
enlightenment campaigns at the grassroots
level to purge the minds of the youths from
societal vices and to promote unity amongst
Also, in view of the effectiveness of
social media in information dissemination,
Nigerians should form the habit of using
their platforms to promoting peace and unity
in the country and adding value to the lives
of the people rather than spreading calumny
and hatred.
Finally, all hands must be on deck to
supporting the government in saying `NO` to
the enemies of progress and `KEEPING THE
PEACE` in Plateau and the nation.