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Jang and his need for hands of fellowship
Plateau, hitherto a home of peace and tourism, is gradually slipping into the edge of a cliff-hanger as cases of blood letting continue to rule the atmosphere. Idowu Samuel catalogues the dilemma of the state governor who seems to be in need of the hands of fellowship.
Plateau State is rated as the 12th largest in Nigeria, but the attraction it holds is boarder-breaking. The state has been living up to its fond cliché; Home of Peace and Tourism, harbouring people of diverse backgrounds from within and outside Nigeria.
Indeed, politics of Plateau cannot be complete without the role it played in cementing relationships among political formations in the country. The state had played host to a horde of political parties, including the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), Action Group (AG) Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP), the Progressive Party of Nigeria (PPN), the Second Republic ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN), the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and a host of other ambitious political parties.
Plateau had produced unforgettable moments for even the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), given that the first national convention of the party was held in Jos to produce former President Olusegun Obasanjo as a presidential nominee and Chief Solomon Lar as the party’s first national chairman. Political players who savoured memorable political events of the era would never forget Jos in a hurry.
Most unfortunately, Plateau State is losing the steam for which it was generally preferred. Circumstances playing out from the present day realities in Nigeria are making the state to yield to pangs of endless crisis rooted in ethnicism, religion and petty politics. The crises in Plateau reached the head last two weeks with the killing of a senator and a member of the State House of Assembly by supposed gunmen. The incident threw Nigeria off balance, while drawing attention to the veiled problems that had long been afflicting Nigeria, and in the face of elusive solutions.
For the past two years, Plateau had been under the siege of Fulani herdsmen.
The herdsmen had adopted the crudest mode of attacking the indigenes with pre-dawn raids, using sophisticated fire arms. Since the pre-dawn operations by the herdsmen took off, no fewer than 2000 persons were reported to have been mowed down in cold blood. Yet, Plateau remains a hot flash for internecine clashes between the Fulani and the indigenes, whereas the end appears not to be in sight.
The degenerating crisis situation in Plateau is no doubt a source of great dilemma for the government, its people and the rest of the country. While the state government bears the greatest brunt of the unfortunate situation, the issue in contention now is its actions or perhaps omission in stemming the tide.
On that, the commitment of the state governor, David Jonah Jang, comes under focus.
In the state today, the name, Jang, means different things to different categories of people. Many see him as the defender of the interest and rights of the Plateau State indigene. Those in this category would not stop reasoning that minus Jang in Plateau, the wishes of the non-indigenes in annexing the state and subjugating the larger majority would have long been fulfilled. Jang had his popularity among his own people confirmed during the last governorship election tested with the heavy slant of votes in his favour.
Other category of people in the state are wont to see the governor as inscrutable, stubborn, uncompromising and vile in his relationship with the non-indigenes and hence deserves to take the blame for the escalating crises in the state. Those in this category concluded that the inaction of the government on crisis in the state was deliberate in order to fulfil the agenda of imposing the interest of the so-called indigenes of Plateau over those considered as settlers.
Echoing this latter view lately was the secretary, Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association, Mallam Sale Bayeri, who said the inability of the government to initiate meaningful dialogue between warring factions in the state was the reason peace had continued to elude Plateau.
Bayeri, who confirmed that the Fulani in Plateau were on revenge mission against the indigenes, traced the genesis of the reported ongoing genocide in villages in Plateau State to the 2004, 2008 and 2010 crises in the state in which he said over 150 families of Fulani herdsmen were killed with cows and other properties, estimated at over three billion Naira, stolen.
To him, the families of these victims, who he said had taken refuge in neighbouring states of Bauchi, Benue, Nasarawa, Taraba and other northern states, were the ones who had been avenging the death of their kinsmen.
From indications, the sentiments being expressed by the Hausa-Fulani in Plateau is that they deserved to be treated as indigenes with full rights indigeneship accorded them. Hanging on to the view point, the non- indigenes believe that since everyone is a migrant, those claiming indigeneship of Plateau had migrated to the place, with their origins traced to farther lands.
However, supporters of Governor Jang had argued that he had done so much, both covertly and openly, to ensure the return of peace to Plateau. They contended that the consistent breach of security in the state had been the making of some elements who they reasoned had sworn to frustrate all plans to extricate Plateau State from the brink of Armageddon.
There are those who contend also that if efforts by Jang were anything to go by, Plateau would by now have been a reference point to other states so similarly bedevilled by multifaceted crisis on how to manage break down of law and order.
According to records, from 2004, when the first crisis between the so-called indigenes and settlers broke out, different panels of inquiries had been set up, all totaling about 10. While the Federal Government reportedly set up not less than three commissions of inquiry on the Plateau crises, the present governor is said to have raised about six. Different recommendations were made at the end of sittings by the panels. Yet, not one of such had proved workable in solving the crises.
Meanwhile, attempts by Jang to solve the knotty problem of security breaches in Plateau through the panels had hit brick walls each time. One major cause of the failure of use of panels stemmed from repeated boycott by the Hausa-Fulani communities in the state. There had been reports of vows by the non-indigenes never to attend any probe panels constituted by the state government on the ground of suspicion and mistrusts. If anything, the state had to depend on initiatives at the grassroots level aimed at bringing the warring factions to round tables.
The governor had vented his frustration on the turn of events lately when he addressed a meeting of stakeholders, stating, “As a government, we have sustained our efforts in tackling the peace and security challenge. Some of these include establishing the Inter-religious Committee for Peace and Harmony, holding stakeholders’ meetings such as this, establishment of Operation Rainbow and producing White Papers on reports of investigations into crises in Jos, though we still have limitations in implementing all aspects of the reports which include those that border on federal agencies.”
The governor drew attention to his incapacity on the present situation in Plateau, saying, “We are unable to implement these reports because we do not have the enforcing agencies under our control; more so that certain big shots in the country have interests and will do anything to protect those indicted by the reports.” With that, Governor Jang cuts a picture of a governor in search of hands of fellowship from the heavens.
At the moment, the Federal Government is directing affairs on security matters in Plateau State. For several weeks, a Special Military Task Force has been on the ground. It has initiated a new operation aimed at flushing out gunmen from the fringes and across the mountains of Plateau in a bid to restore law and order in the state.Share