Declare A State Of Emergency In Plateau State

by Bolaji Aregbeshola

Once again I am forced to write an article on the November 28, 2008 civil disturbance in Jos but this time around, I am suggesting the declaration of a state of emergency in Plateau State because it appears to be the way out of the confusion created by Governor Jang after the November riot as a result of his battle for supremacy. The governor has not shown any sign of remorse for the ignoble role he played in the crisis; rather, he has been sentimental and adamant with no solution in sight.

It may be unconstitutional for the President and the two chambers of the National Assembly to investigate into the recent Jos crisis but Governor Jang was slow to exercise his constitutional powers to set up a panel of inquiry to probe into the crisis. This led to the Federal Government’s constitution of a commission of inquiry to be headed by rtd. Gen. Emmanuel Abisoye. But soon after Federal Government’s decision to carry out a probe, Governor Jang came to the realization that he (Jang) and not the Federal Government has the right to investigate the crisis. Perhaps the personal animosity between Jang and Abisoye who investigated the 1979 coup (where many innocent plateau indigenes were killed) brought about the re-awakening of the governor’s consciousness.

Governor Jang’s decision to file a suit against the Federal Government and the two chambers of the National Assembly have dampened every chance of proffering a lasting solution to the continued ethno-religious cum political crisis in the state’s capital city. Therefore, the present ugly development in Plateau State can only be addressed by declaring a state of emergency as it will soothe the displeasures of the Muslims, Christians, Settlers, indigenes e.t.c most of whom have been alleging lopsidedness in the membership of the five committees that were set up to look into the immediate and remote causes of the riot that broke out in Jos North Local Government Area.

Not even the intervention of his (Jang) colleagues was enough for the governor to change his mind. He was reported to have excused himself from the meeting saying that the court should be allowed to decide who has the powers to find out what went wrong. Jang also accused his colleagues of taking sides with the President.

Governor Jang’s attitude towards resolving the age-long crisis in Jos can no longer be tolerated. He has taken the matter in hand so personal forgetting that it is not about him but the state. Nigerians cannot continue to watch a selfish and stony-hearted governor head a state that needs a tactful and proactive administrator.

The governor is obviously brooding over the treatment meted out to him by President Yar’ Adua and his wife, Turai, in the aftermath of the crisis but unsurprisingly, Jang has been hiding under the guise of exercising the powers conferred on him by the constitution as the governor of the state. Guess this is the reason why it took the constitution of the FG’s commission of Inquiry before the governor was able to set up his own committee for investigations?

Jang’s assertion during last Friday’s inauguration of the Chief Bola Ajibola-led panel of inquiry that “the commission will identify the culprits and sanction the criminal perpetrators” cannot hold sway besides the displeasures of some section of the state over Jang’s approach shows that the governor is incapable of proffering a lasting solution to the problem in Jos.

Amidst all the confusion, the Plateau State chapter of the PDP has threatened to take legal action against the state government if it refuses to swear in the 17 elected local government chairmen and councilors that were elected during the disputed polls. Furthermore, an Islamic group in Jos has also threatened reprisal against any group or persons who attack its members or other Muslims in the country.

The SCSN’s call for the withdrawal of the two Muslim members of the Jang constituted panel has a serious implication on the peaceful co-existence of the different groups in the state. And if all the aforementioned threats and displeasures are anything to go by, there is more violence to come in Plateau State unless a state of emergency is declared. This is far from prophesying doom.

The fanatical xenophobic antecedent of Governor Jang does not qualify him to get to the root of the matter and avert the recurrence of the 1998, 2001, 2006 and 2008 crisis. It is for this reason that President Yar’ Adua should declare a state of emergency in Plateau State.

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