Gov Lalong and His Quest for Sustainable Peace on the Plateau

July 27, 2018

By Mpaka Numbere

There is no doubt that the simmering conflicts and violent attacks over the years in Plateau State has retarded harmonious interaction and rapport among the various ethnic groups in the state that was once a reflection of its slogan (Home of Peace and Tourism), also, these conflicts can be rooted to settlers-indigenes disputes, unresolved political differences, perceived social and economic marginalization, bad government policies, high level of unemployment, poverty and inequality in the state’s socio-economic relations, etc.

Plateau State has had major outbreaks of violence in 2001, 2004, 2008 and 2010, 2012 and beyond as highlighted thus:

September 2001: Violent clashes in Jos with over 3, 000 persons killed.

28 Nov. 2008: Religious violence in the city of Jos over 700 people killed.

December 2008: Violent clashes over disputed election result in Jos over 400 people killed.

17–20 January 2009: Resurgence of religious crisis in Jos. Plateau 320 killed.

January 17 2010 Hundreds of people were reported killed after clashes in Jos, most by gunfire. Police estimate death toll at 326, although some community leaders put the figure at more than 400.

Jan 22, 2010: 150 bodies allegedly confirmed dead and pulled from a well in Kuru Karama,

March 2010: Hundreds of people are killed in clashes between Fulani pastoralists and Christian villagers in the mostly Christian villages of Dogo Nahawa, Zot and Ratsat south of Jos. The then Plateau State Commissioner for Information Gregory Yenlong said more than 300 people had died.

December 2010: At least 80 people are killed followed by bombings as well as clashes for two days later between youths in Jos.

January 2011: Human Rights Watch says more than 200 people killed in violence over preceding month, many hacked to death or burned alive in attacks on villages, and reprisal killings in Plateau State.

July 20 2011: 5 people killed in fresh violence in Angwan Rukuba.

October 6 2011: Unknown assailants attacked Gwol village in Barkin Ladi, injuring nine and killing one.

September 11, 2011: 2 explosive devices were thrown at the West of Mines area and a number of casualties were recorded.

September 2011: Attacks in 2 villages of Barkin Ladi; kakpwis in Foron district and Kuzen of Gashit district.

February 2012: Suicide bombers attack at COCIN Headquarters and St Finbarrs Catholic Church, Rayfield

July 8 2012: 14 rural communities were attacked, namely Gashish, Matse village 63 people killed, Barkin Ladi incessant attacks leveled on the villages by marauding suspected Fulani militias. A total of 103 people killed including senator Gyang Dantong and Hon. Gyang Danfulani.

October 11 2012: Suspected Fulani herdsmen killed 14 people in three villages in Riyom LGA

November 26 2012: The gruesome killing of eight people at a beer parlour in Heipang, Barkin Ladi by men dressed in military fatigues in a Toyota Hilux van belonging to the Special Task Force.

These senseless killings coupled with some unreported attacks put the number of death at numbers that cannot be imagined until 2015. This persistent recurrence of violence has had a negative impact on the people ranging from, destruction of lives and properties, livelihoods, create hate and mistrust among citizens of Plateau State, as well as the partitioning of the city along religious and ethnic lines. Even though peace is returning to Jos, it is still in a condition of pervading and volatile tension.

Governor Lalong after assuming office in 2015 understood the magnitude of this, with a 5-point policy thrust of Peace, Security and Good Governance, Human Capital Development and Social Welfare, Agriculture and Rural Development, Entrepreneurship and Industrialization, Physical Infrastructure and Environment, which cannot be successfully achieved in an atmosphere of rancour, the governor quickly established the Plateau Peace Building Agency headed by a pragmatic leader Mr Joseph Lengmang with a mandate to explore all avenues to return Plateau on the path of sustainable peace.

This agenda the agency has committedly pursued leading to the unveiling of the Plateau state peace roadmap and the establishment early warning signals to halt such violent attacks and unnecessary loss of lives and valuables.

The peace loving people of Plateau state and many social commentators believed that the commitment of the Governor toward peace building was yielding positive result as there was relative peace on the Plateau for a while until the recent attacks in some villages within Riyom, Barkin Ladi and Bassa that has again brought tears and anguish to indigenes and residents of these Local Government areas

Besides the loss of innocent lives and properties, one of the most open results of the incessant violent conflicts is the massive movement or migration of households out of violent prone areas with some of them relocating within the city in areas perceived as safe for them. Following the immediate intervention of the governor to half the near breakdown of law and order after the recent attacks in Barkin Ladi, it became obvious that the road to a sustainable peace on the Plateau is a tortious one.

Again with the vow of Governor Lalong to put Plateau on the path of sustainable growth, he commits himself to find a lasting solution to lingering problem of peace within the Plateau and to come up with a sustainable roadmap to peace, to actualize this drive and passion within him, the governor after visiting affected communities and displaced persons focused on the need to bring justice to those affected by the attacks, this commitment of the governor no doubt is yielding positive results as the Operation Safe Haven and men of the military upon relocating their operational base to the affected Local Government area in Barkin Ladi has arrested over 20 suspects with deeper commitment to bring a stop to the attacks.

In furtherance to his commitment towards returning a sustainable peace on the Plateau, the governor has further directed a high powered committee to immediately come up with proper recommendations towards the immediate and appropriate resettlement of displaced person(s) to their ancestral homeland (that has never been done in the history of all the violent attacks that has displaced thousands of people in Plateau State), in this renewed commitment, the governor vows to resist any form of indiscriminate occupation of lands by any group in the name of land grabbing, a move many people believe is on course for a sustainable peace.

Indeed, Governor Lalong has proved that his heart is after his people and with the developmental drive he has put in towards the betterment of the rural populace, peace and security of lives and properties of rural dwellers cannot be compromised by anybody or group of persons. As the resettlement of displaced persons are gradually being concluded, one will only wish and pray that the efforts of the executive Governor will once again return Plateau on the path to a sustainable peace where residents across all local government areas will carry out their legitimate business without fear of any kind and to return Plateau to the good days of Home of Peace and Tourism.

Mpaka Numbere writes from Jos, Plateau State

Dipo Olowookere

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan.

Mr Olowookere can be reached via [email protected]

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