Plateau: The Fire Next Time

by SOC Okenwa

Boko Haram has through crude and rude terrorism set Northern Nigeria on fire, succeeding to an extent in ‘subduing’ the region! While the Federal government has deployed the military means and strategy to subdue the extremely violent islamic sect (with little or no impact given the reality on the ground) we are daily being served through TV images horrible sights of burnt corpses, victims of bomb and extreme cruelty unleashed on a defenseless population by these uncircumcised animals.The fear of Boko Haram (especially by northerners in the far north) has suddenly become the beginning of wisdom.

But even southerners living and working or doing business in the northern cities are not spared either; in fact they are now targets as churches are bombed with worshippers packed inside attending services. Nigeria has never in her tragic history seen this kind of violent brute demonstration of blood-letting. Yet Boko Haram has a mission: that of vengeance and islamisation of the nation! Revenge because Mohammed Yusuf, its leader, was gruesomely murdered by the state police even when he was captured alive! And an islamic hidden agenda rooted in nauseating Sharia. Nonsense!

Now that a new National Security Adviser (NSA) has been appointed by President Goodluck Jonathan one hopes that things might improve for better. Mallam Sambo Dasuki, a gentleman from appearance, should go ahead and engage the terrorists as he opts for “dialogue” but one belongs to the side of the hawks, that is, those in full support of a military solution. You don’t possibly talk with anonymous criminals determined to make their point by bombing and killing innocent compatriots anywhere they are found in our motherland. Or do you Mr Sambo?

But since NSA Dasuki is their ‘brother’ it is hoped that the Boko Haram elements would see reason and abandon their insane campaign of tears, sorrow and blood! The folly of their murderous crusade diminishes our standing in the eyes of civilised nations. We wish him well in his hard task of convincing otherwise uncivilised barbarians who seem to derive joy maiming and bombing their vulnerable compatriots.

Plateau state is found in Ngeria’s Middle belt region. The state is predominantly Christian with minority Hausa/Fulani population. But the Hausa/Fulani have never hidden their overzealous intention of supplanting the indigenes. During the regime of Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in the 90’s obnoxious decrees were rolled out and given effect to rein in any superiority feelings of the indigenes through military coercion. A new local government was thus carved out of the then Jos local government to accommodate the Hausa/Fulani resident in large numbers there.

I am interested in recent happenings in Plateau State because I know the state. When I was in college in Benin City decades ago I used to visit Lafia (then in Plateau state) and Jos on holidays. Plateau state is a beautiful landscape indeed! Jos is reputed to be a Tin city with many foreigners especially the white expatriates doing construction contracts resident yonder. The city is cool with cool weather and boisterous population. Some people have said (and I agree with them) that Jos is unlike other Nigerian cities where hot whether and environmental filth assault the feelings of visitors. Jos is clean and cosmopolitan and the city has great places for good times.

But today there is fire on the Plateau and its capital city is much like a city under siege, one divided on ethno-religious lines! There is a constant war between the landowners and settlers (Hausa/Fulani). And between Muslims and Christians. The soul of the city has been stolen by arnachists and muslim fundamentalists whose motive is clear. There is no way a settler can displace the ‘sons of the soil’ in the land of their fore-fathers. Or a minority, as it were, seeking to dominate or exterminate the majority.

The crisis in Plateau state never started today; it has been a recurring issue in Nigeria’s quest for nationhood and greatness. The constant killings and counter killings could be attributed to failure of leadership at both the centre and the state. Failure to tackle a deep problem bothering on land and identity has had its toll. And unless the various governments decide to nip the continuing bloodshed in the bud by identifying the root causes then we shall definitely be back to the status quo soon again. And continue the horrendous count of dead bodies!

A whole lot of committees and probe panels had been instituted in the past but their reports and recommendations have never been published or acted upon leading to more sectarian strife and bad blood. What is the federal government hiding from Nigerians that it has always preffered sitting on these panels’ recommendations and reports? Or is there a damaging conspiracy theory somewhere? One needs to ask questions and obtain satisfactory responses from a clueless government that is in its wit’s end!

The seed for the present unrest was sown by the military by favouring one ethnic group to the detriment of the other, the real owners of the land. But this obvious attempt to emasculate the majority has backfired leading to the spilling of blood and mistrust. The military rulers from the north had thought disingeniously that by using the state machinery to ‘resettle’ forcefully the non-indigenes solution would be found. Hell no!

You don’t decree into being what God has established from creation! The Hausa/Fulani and the tribes (Berom, Tiv, etc) in Plateau state can never be the same in terms of culture, language and tongue. We all live in the same confused nation but our tribes and tongues differ. So shall it remain till eternity! I am Igbo and you are Hausa/Fulani; you are Yoruba and I am Bini, I am Ijaw and you are Efik etc.

How possible is it going to be, for example, to create a local government out of the one existing in Sabon Gari in Kano just because many Igbos and other ‘infidels’ live and do business there? Sometimes we must endeavour to respect what we cannot change. The problem of Plateau state must, therefore, be seen and treated as an attempt by a minority to muzzle its way through and prove its power of dominion. This inordinate ambition must not be allowed to stand!

Just a week ago prominent Nigerians from the state were murdered in cold blood as they were attending the mass burial of their kins killed days before. A serving PDP Senator Gyang Dantong and the State Assembly leader Gyang Fulani were shot at close range in a clear pre-meditated murder. The rightful inhabitants of the land on the Plateau must be saved from constant unchecked invasion by the Fulani herdsmen whose penchant for killings is widely known. When some uncircumcized marauding ignorant animals are unleashed on a decent society in search of evolution then hell is let loose!

In the course of these incessant attacks by those who believe Allah ‘destined’ them to die matrys thousands of innocent Christians have died, some caught in the crossfire. How many more will die before a drastic measure is applied to bring to book the perpetrators of these orgy of bloddletting? Who are those ‘big men’ in Abuja and other northern cities sponsoring these violence? Why are they not found out and dealt with or are they above the law? Why must impunity be allowed to continue unhindered?

The communal violence has origins and we all know how it began but we cannot know how it will end. What we are asking the federal government to do right away is to consider declaring a state of emergency in Plateau state. And follow that up with some radical solutions that will put everybody in their place. In seeking to establish peace through imposed order no sentiments should be entertained and no favouritism.

The military rulers from the north (including Generals Yakubu Gowon, Ibrahim Babangida, late Sani Abacha and Abdusalami Abubakar) have done their very best to underdevelop Nigeria through their greed, short-sightedness and unpatriotism. That their region in the nort

h is poor today and boasts of the infamous ‘Almajiris’ cannot be blamed on President Goodluck Jonathan and the present political dispensation. While we have tolerated their various attempts at leading the great nation blindly to the ditch it finds herself today we cannot tolerate any further attempt by the Hausa/Fulani oligarchy to hold the nation down or retard her march towards greatness! So, now that power has returned to the south every effort must be made to tame the Boko Haram rebellion and contain the Jos/Plateau mayhem from escalating further.

Plateau state is on fire and something must give here. Nigeria has destroyed enough souls and poured away enough blood of the innocent! If no solution is found this time to the Plateau conundrum then no one should be blamed when the indigenes of Jos and elsewhere in Plateau state take up arms to wage communal war against those they welcomed to the land of their birth. No one who is non-Roman goes to Rome and try to make trouble over land ownership or more space. Or better still, no one comes to Ihiala in Anambra state, as a non-indigene, to fight with me over my late father’s land.

Enough is indeed enough. Enough of the Hausa/Fulani nonsense! And distraction!! The fire next time on the Plateau might be bloodier and more disastrous. That is how Nigeria works: killing her diverse ‘children’ since the Lugardian terrible mistake of 1914. Before that next time’s fire is ignited, however, we must take care of this time. This time, President Goodluck Jonathan and Governor Jonah Jang must live up to their responsibilities. They must use the power the Nigerian people gave them to do the right thing now. They are in the know of that which ought to be done!

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