A DECADE OF DEATH ON THE PLATEAU

{SEPTEMBER 7th 2001 TO SEPTEMBER 7th 2011.}

By Wakdok, Samuel Stephen.

If democracy's mortal sin is the endless and senseless orgy of violence and dance of death on the plateau since 2001, the original sin was committed from the time of the military when they balkanized the old Jos Local government into Jos North and Jos South Local Government Areas respectively rather than Jos North and Jos West as demanded by the majority. However the gerrymander was with the sole and mischievous objective of making the minority Hausa settlers in Jos who were centred on the present day Jos North the majority in Jos North.

Since areas in Jos north formed most of the nucleus of the Jos city, the long run effect was to impose the people, religion and culture of the Hausa on the generality of the indigenes and residents of Jos. This has been responsible for the ever flowing of blood on the plateau. Of course the Beroms are the major indigenous ethnic group in Jos, and they view this development as an affront to their heritage both in terms of land and survival and have been the major protagonist in the conflict. There are other ethnic settlers in Jos as old as the Hausas if not older; the Ibos, the Urhobos, the Yoruba and other tribes from different parts of the defunct o ld Benue Plateau state like the Idoma, Tiv, Mada etc. None has claimed to be the owners of Jos or demanded to be the rulers of Jos despite having similar religious and cultural backgrounds.

The Hausa on the other hand have always used the twin evil of ethnicity and religion when it suits them either alternatively or concurrently. When they want to gain the sympathy of the secular world or even the liberal Christian world, they paint the conflict as purely ethnic but when they want to gain the sympathy of their fellow Muslims both local and foreign they paint the conflict as religious. These has made the people of Plateau come under double attack as seen when a Christian President declared a state of emergency in 2004 at the behest of Muslim leaders and when a Moslem President Yar'Adua clearly took sides with his Hausa Fulani kindred after the local government elections of November 2008 snowballed into a conflict. It was so glaring because the ruling party at both the federal and state governments was the PDP.

The military sowed the seed of discord when in 1994 they appointed a Hausa Fulani as the local government administrator to the chagrin of the indigenous ethnic groups. That resulted in the first conflict in Jos though many people are unaware of it.The major crisis of reference is the one of September 7th 2001 which has become a wound that is refusing to heal. Between 2001 and 2011, thousands have lost their lives in various crises and Jos once called Home of peace and tourism is now referred to as Home of pieces and terrorism in many quarters.

The once serene city has witnessed so much violence to the extent that many people have relocated away and are still relocating, new entrants are refusing to come and some indigenes have stayed away from home. Today in Jos, there are certain areas that Christians cannot go and some that Muslims cannot go. Some areas sit on border lines which make them the boiling points at the renewal of conflicts. Economic and social activities have suffered many setbacks leaving the people poorer and disillusioned.

Propaganda has played a major role in fanning the embers of discord in this prolonged crisis. The Hausa Fulani have exploited their access to international broadcast media like the Al jazeera, BBC Hausa service and even local media like the Daily trust. It is on record that the Hausa Fulani are the antagonists in this feud, but these media play down all the attacks by the Hausa/Fulani and amplify the ones by the others even when acting in self defense. Their advertorials, commentaries, opinions, columns and contribution are pro Moslem and pan Islamic. They would have been happier if the endangered people on the plateau surrender without resistance to the senseless slaughter carried out by the jihadists who see nothing wrong in turning against their host communities. For people who cherish their cattle more than other people's lives, one is not surprised at the havoc they can create on the lives of others. Now in the twenty first century we see how settlers have turned against not only their hosts but all others who do not share their faith. The Jos crisis is not just a Hausa-Berom conflict, if it were I can't fathom how churches have become the shrines of the Berom people. Yet the first target of the Hausa/Fulani is always a church. Each time there is resumption in conflict we see the active participation, collaboration, and cooperation of Moslems from other states and even outside the country in terms of human, material and financial resources. Fighters have been trained and imported to come and create havoc on innocent residents of Jos. At no point has any Christian state or country aided the people of Jos in this war, but we know the roles Moslem dominated states have played in inciting and providing support for the jihadists.

Unfortunately the military sent to keep peace and maintain internal security have at one time or the other been accused of biasness. Unarmed, innocent Christians have been shot at and killed in some cases. Innocent Christians have been killed under the watch of some security personnel without much ado. The case of 40 Ibos slaughtered along Bauchi road in 2010 is an unfortunate incident that can't be forgotten in a hurry. The various attacks by armed Fulani marauders on innocent villagers around Jos since 2010 has cast a lot of doubts on the efficacy of the security arrangement which make it possible for the attackers to kill and escape. Most times innocent youths who rally to protect their communities or disarm these attackers are the ones arrested and paraded as armed hoodlums. The Hausa man never conquered Jos, and even if it is argued that every one settled in Jos as it is the case all over the world, it has been consistent that people who settled before the arrival of others have always been called the indigenes. After all Usman Dan Fodio was not from Sokoto but Gobir and only ruled Sokoto after his conquest. It is surprising that while the Jihad of Dan Fodio in 1804 did not conquer Jos during a primitive era, we are been confronted with a modern day Jihad in the era of civilized statehood and nation with government.

Economic indices have played a major role in this crisis. While the Christians and others have looked at the irrationality of breeding excess children due to economic realities, without prejudice to their religious beliefs, the Hausa Muslims have continued to explode their population irrespective of their inability to cater for their off springs materially and socially. This has led to a glut in the population of the Hausa Fulani households with the attendant problem of the almajiris who are readily used in conflicts. On the other hand it has led to a stabilization and outright fall in the population of the indigenes and other Christians in the city. This coupled with sponsors from within and without has made the Hausa Fulani Muslims bolder and more daring over the years.

The rise in Islamic extremism and the increased activities of terrorists in the country and Jos in particular gives one serious concern. The 2010 Christmas eve twin bombings which left not less than 80 Christians dead has not been investigated further and no culprit has been brought to book. The role of boko harram and al qaeda in perpetrating violence in Nigeria and around the world cannot be overemphasized.

For those familiar with history, the Jos Crisis is a semblance of the Kosovo war in the 90s. It therefore makes it imperative to demand for an international assessment and international arbitrators since the federal government has not done enough to stop this wanton destruction of lives and property. The activities of some security men who have clearly taken sides with their kinsmen or religion when they are supposed to be neutral makes it inevitable to call for the intervention of an International peace keeping or enforcement force to be garrisoned in and around Jos like that of Kosovo.

Until then, the Federal government must stop playing politics with the Jos conundrum to halt further death after a decade of senseless killings. It is highly hypocritical that a people who will not allow their own indigenous Christian tribes in Bauchi. Kano, Sokoto, Kebbi, Borno,Niger, Yobe, Gombe to rule or have access to political offices want to lord it over others in their own state. I will always affirm that the issue of indigene ship is a Nigerian phenomenon and as such if it must be abrogated it should start from the Hausa states with a long history of settlers who have also contributed to the development of those states. The Hausa Fulani Muslim should either live at peace with the other residents or leave others in peace.

It was Martin Luther king Jnr. who said "we either live together as brothers or perish as fools". If we must be brothers we should respect those who have been hospitable enough to allow us live and breed in their land. But if we choose to be fools then we all stand the risk of perishing as fools. But before then truth must be told. Why no other tribe has lay claim to Jos though they settled as far as the Hausas did, if not longer? Who arms the Hausas with guns and who pays for the importation of mercenaries from other states and countries?

Peace is priceless and sometimes we may pay the ultimate price as many of our martyrs have in the quest for peace on the Plateau. But now more than ever we must discern between cowardice and hatred. We cannot afford to be cowards, therefore we must stand firm and defend our people, faith and children yet we should not allow vengeance to cause us to hate. Our God is a living God and does not thrive on the blood of the innocents .Brethren do not be afraid for the Bible says "the thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy". Based on those responsible for the destruction of lives and property, we can tell who the owners of Jos are or are not. Jesus said that he will send us the Holy Spirit who will lead us to the truth. For every logarithm there is an anti logarithm .But He also promised us that they gate of hell will never prevail against his church. Finally Christ told us to fear Him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell. All things shall pass away, even this too shall pass.

For all thefaithful who have died in this decade of death on the Plateau, we pray for God's compassion and mercy. May eternal rest shine upon them and may they rest in your Peace Perfect Peace O' Lord. Amen.