The Plateau State Gov.Jonah Jang seems to have entered a new phase in evolving view of inter-tribal relations, at least among public figures. So frequent are the mayhem, so accustomed are we to intolerance, brutality, insane and insincere apologies, that the guilty no longer feel any need to display shame or regret, except in the form of a cynical media-friendly flourish.
Before this time Governor Jonah Jang has dragged the Federal Government to the Supreme Court for setting up a panel of inquiry to probe the November 28 sectarian riots that engulfed the state over the local government election in Jos North. We felt he was a capable hand but his belief that the Presidency was demonstrating bias in the handling of the crisis reveal that Mr. Jang and Plateau State is all about an apprentice misusing a right tool.
Jang government refused to take measures to eliminate no-go areas in the city and launch a massive operation against the crime perpetrators. No improved security arrangement in the city and no one is spared. Nigerians demand of the Jang government to explain why Jos is always on fire! We need an immediate answer and a relief for the victims and the affected non-indigenous traders.
Badly planned, poorly conducted military operations are also responsible for the rise of religious crisis in the middle belt, where the loss of lives and property and displacement of thousands of civilians have alienated the population. The state government failure to extend its control over and provide good governance to its indigenes in Plateau State is equally responsible for empowering the radicals. The only sustainable way of dealing with the challenges of religious crisis and extremism in Jos is through the rule of law and an extension of civil and political rights. Instead, the State government has reinforced administrative and legal structures that undermine the state and spur anarchy.
In 1926, Plateau Province, comprising Jos and Pankshin Divisions, was carved out of Bauchi Province. At various times between 1926 and 1976, the boundary of Plateau Province oscillated, paralleling the general trend of political development in the country, as the government of the day acquiesced to the agitation of different ethnic groups to be merged with their kith and kin that are of larger concentrations in other provinces. During this period, therefore, some administrative units or divisions as they were then called, from neighbouring provinces were added to or subtracted from Plateau Province.
Today, Plateau State is tenuously governed because of deliberate policy, not for tribal traditions or resistance. The strong desire for political self-determination, gave the indigenes a supporting role to carve the geopolitics. Before the British colonialism in Nigeria, much of Plateau State was part of Bauchi Province, but even as a product of half-century boundary adjustments arising; the ambition of the colonial masters to create a province which consisted largely of non-Muslims under one Resident, fulfilled the aim of protecting the railway line being constructed at that time and guarantee the sustenance of tin mining activities which began in 1902. .
Jos has ruled it by retaining colonial-era administrative and judicial systems unsuited to modern governance. Repressive structures and denial of political representation have generated resentment. To deflect external pressure to curb radicalism, the Dariye government talks about reforms but does not follow through. Instead, appeasement has allowed local militants to establish parallel.
It is equally important to generate broad-based economic development. Neglected for decades, Jos is one of Plateau’s poorest regions, with high poverty and unemployment and badly under-developed infrastructure. Located astride the boundaries and a major regional transit route, its economy is dependent on smuggling. Since the outbreak of the religious unrest, there has been enormous growth in drugs and weapons trafficking from Chad via Borno to Bauchi which were used to kill innocent citizens in Jos. Extremism in tribal agencies cannot be tackled without firm action against criminality. But for this, economic grievances must be addressed and the law of the land extended over and enforced in Jos.
The FG should set-up an independent panel to ascertain the hidden cause and black-faces inflaming Jos crisis. There is a need to remove establishment unity-government in plateau state with the ruling part PDP at the helm under party-based governance. The rule of law which voids any customs inconsistent with constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights must take adherent. Again disarming perpetrators, shutting down extremists training camps and ending the flow of money and weapons to and fro Jos including recruitment/training by religious sect by other foreign or local perpetrators should be restrain from Jos including Nigeria as a whole and its neighbourhood.
There should be impartial prosecution against those responsible for killing innocent civilians and destroyed properties. The need to prevent perpetrators from establishing parallel administrative structures, demolishing those that exit and prosecuting those who are delivering private justice must be felt.
Again the Jang administration should generate employment in for indigenous the youth by: creating manufacturing/industrial units and providing technical assistance, subsidies and other incentives for agricultural activities; developing the area’s natural resources, including minerals and tin; and developing human resources by investing in education, including vocational training schools and technical colleges. He should open Plateau State to the media and allow independent human rights monitors to investigate possible human rights violations and abuses by the civil administration or law-enforcement agencies.
The Federal Government should work with Plateau State and a proposed in the military-to-civil Jos Conflict Resolution Panel to ensure greater coordination in curbing cross-border perpetrators. Press the Plateau State government should take action against pro-religious elements in Jos and publish monthly violence figures of cross-border incursions into Plateau State to encourage it to do more on its side of the neighbouring States. They should make support for Reconstruction Opportunity Zones in the middle-belt conditional on steps by Plateau State to end single religious-style parallel administrative and judicial structures and ensure participation of moderate stakeholders in identifying and implementing development projects. Finally, they should allow free, fair and democratic elections for that state of Plateau come 2011 and give political and economic support for the process.