Kichime Goyang Gotau (FCILG USA)
Jos is entrapped by paralyzing tensions and violent clashes, again after 20years of the infamous September 7, 2001 ethnic and religious killings, due to political power struggle, concealed as ethnic and religious clashes…
Understanding our differences rather than setting them aside is very important, just like tolerance and mutual respect are better than so-called forgiveness without love.
Understanding the history of Jos, leaves you better abreast with the reality and peculiarity of the power play in Jos and environs.
Jos town and Plateau state have enjoyed relative peace, at-least in the last six or so years; except for incessant attacks on rural communities of Riyom, Bassa and Barikin – Ladi and these attackers and killers must be criminals and conflict entrepreneurs, that are taking advantage of the weaknesses in neighborhood watch and especially, weaknesses and failures of the Nigerian state, to protect defenseless rural dwellers and farming/herding communities.
But, let’s examine the pretext (hypnotic disk) for violent clashes in Jos – Bukuru Metropolis, including those of fear for domination, protest against marginalization and the hypocritical use of ethnic and religious crises to settle political rifts and score cheap political goals!
Please let me start by asking these questions: By the killing of Muslims by Muslims in Katsina, Zamfara, Kebbi, Kano, Sokoto, Yobe and Borno states among others in recent years, are non-Muslim minority groups of northern Nigeria (north central), still of the age-long notion that every overnight attack in Jos is orchestrated by Muslim jihadists, bent on taking “our” lands?
As Christians and Muslims of Plateau state (north central), are we still bereft of conscience, as to still allow ethnicity and religion be used by political cowards, to destroy Jos-Bukuru towns, Africa’s great metropolitan tin city and railway towns, known for hospitality, peace and prosperous agricultural and leather works (arts and crafts)?
So now, what are the underlying secrets and conflicts bound issues of Jos?
- is it that, Hausa-Fulani once held exalted representative positions along with natives of Jos (indigenous Berom, Izere, Anaguta and Buji among others) during the colonial era, largely due to the dictatorship style of the colonialists and the available skilled workers and artisans of Hausa-Fulani ancestry? propelled by the peaceful, hospitable and accommodating habitat so well co-habited by the natives and their Hausa-Fulani neighbors…
- The rising power tussle and the need for indigenous groups to assert control over their territories, leading to politics of identity and administrative cum legal petitions that was put to rest by colonial government’s recognition of the genuine basis of the struggles of natives and the necessity for-and-to protect rights of indigenous (native) groups and thus, enabled them regain administrative and cultural leadership of their respective domains through well documented and gazette white papers…
- Lack of understanding of the essence of heterogenous co-existence (diversity) in a democracy?
- Failure of the people of Jos to guarantee enduring political assimilation (inclusion).
- Politics of ethnicity and religious leanings, due activities of extreme ethnic and religious bigots (clergy).
- Herders and unchecked damages to farmers, unguarded activities of some farmers and the recurrent violent clashes and killings among farmers and herders…
- Government’s lack of pact and tact, permitting rising culture of taking-sides and lacking credibility, for peace and conflict resolution…
In the 21st century, we should be seen as civilized enough, even by the abundance of educated people among all of us, to over-come primordial sentiments and the precarious consequences of injustice, discrimination and political monopoly etc.
let me say, that modern day development is greater with diversity, inclusion and mutual trust among diverse groups. Importantly, social justice is a key to thriving, peaceful and thus growing societies.
There was a protest in the year 1994 (by indigenous groups) over the appointment of a Hausa-Fulani citizen of Jos as Care Taker Committee Chairman of Jos – the then new Jos north LGA, created in 1992!
Could that singular act of protest and the discrimination of critical stakeholders from accessing power be the beginning of our political blunder as indigenous people?
Did that act sowed the seed of bitterness and drew a political battle line among our people? Yes, it did, in my view; even if as natives, there were rational reasons for the protest!!
Does that, therefore justify the endless killing of native farmers in rural areas? Could Fulani attacks on indigenous tribes be misconstrued as Jihadists? Again, yes in my view, and surely these killings were and are still basis for the fear of conquest by the minority groups (natives). the utter disregard to human lives by these killers will, if left unchecked, be a reason for a future worst-case scenario if not genocide!
Meanwhile, the number of natives killed in the last 20years is unmistakably a genocide.
If we (government and the people) truly cherish peace in and for Jos and Bukuru metropolis, then we must allow social justice by checking the excesses of killer herdsmen, by arresting and bringing the perpetrators to justice…
Similarly, the natives should acknowledge the constitutional right of unrestricted political participation by all of Jos critical stakeholders (every citizen of Nigeria) as enshrined by our laws.
Please let me recall the multi-stakeholder base and the diverse groups, that built Jos – Bukuru towns, permit my mentioning of few of the popular families of Jos- Bukuru Metropolis:
The Rwang Pam families, the DB Zang (proprietor of the first private school in northern Nigeria), the SB Gyel family, the Onigbindes family, Jang family, the Fom family, Gwom families, the Kwaja family, the Buba families, Izang family, Nyam family, family of the AB Galla, the Yahaya Kwandes, the Inuwa Ali family, Baba Adamu Bikkos family, Alh Timtim, A.A Sabo Mangu, Alh Garba Daho, the Dokatiris, the Y.A Isholas, the Gomwalks, the Dogonyaros, the Manguts, the Alh. Mai’Iyalais, Dasuki family, Mabo family, the great Hoteliers and Bakers of Jos-Bukuru towns etc.
The Oyewumis, the Olagbemiros, the Olagbode family, the Adegbenros, the Jacob Lots, the Adeyemos, the Mohammeds (family of erstwhile Sarkin Bukuru, where I used to hawk Moi-Moi as a teenager, by filin sarki), the Saleh Hassans, the Mu’azus, the Dungs Family, the Gobaks family (my Scout commissioner of the ‘80s), the Hawajans, the Mentas, the Botshas, the Eferemos, the Dimkas, the Bakfurs, the Puepets, the Tapguns, the Atukums, the Anthony Homsuks, the Lars, the Dewans, the Kadiyas, the Magajis, the Agbatutus, the Ejimbes, the Tilley Gyados, the Paul Unongo’s, the Okoyes and the various groups of Obowo, Mbaise, Orlu, Ontsha and Enugu business men and women of Jos and Bukuru metropolis etc…
Few others are Pastor JJ Thompsons, Panam Pacy Paul Family, legendary Dan’Maraya Jos, the Akpomes (mining families of Jos and Gurum among others), the Sheikh Sama’ila idris family, Baba Dan’mallam, baba Yola and my dearest baba Saleh Ba’dukun Bukur (famous blacksmith of Bukuru town) etc.
Plus, several thousands of un-named heroes of sports, drama, music, dance, film, mining- laborers and artisans, business men and women, as well as great traders, arts/crafts and cultural promoters and my family, among tens of thousands of others, all strived and built Jos – Bukuru metropolis and many more people are still building Jos daily.
If you are young, or a stranger in Jos, please know that Jos was built by diverse societies and groups and not members of just one ethnic group, clan and or religion.
Holding down any political chance and space in Jos north against any person or target group of persons can only fuel more crises than solve them, because Jos has had diverse stakeholders deserving of tolerance and fair hearing per rights to political and socio-cultural participation and in fact, not just the natives and Hausa-Fulani.
20 years after September 7, 2001 blood bath in Jos and Bukuru environs and the later decades of violent clashes, what real lessons have we learnt? If no lessons are learnt, then we are in for worst disaster ahead, the type of disaster called self-made disaster. The north (north central) is just home for us to share, co-exist and live with high sense of restraint and tolerance for the diversity that God bequeath to us.
Jos was built by heroes and heroines, whom ethnicity and religion was just their motivation and not division. I used to watch and conduct Islamic prayers at Mallam Haruna’s Qur’anic school Bukuru (located by our house), behind ATMN’s yard Bukuru, by kila- kwata (Gyel quarters) Bukuru; although, my mother will chase me away, I found Islamic prayer as not just fun but a source of knowledge; yet, I am a proud Christian with a very good understanding of Muslims. I am an icon of Jos citizenship, having been born in Hwolshe and grew-up/lived in parts of: Gold and base, Mai’-Adiko, Sabon gidan kanar, Sabon gidan dan’ yaya, Bukuru, Bauchi- road, Farin gada and Rayfield, respectively.
While growing up in Jos as pupils and later students of Jos Bukuru metropolis, our cognitive, psycho-motor and affective domains as children was tamed by love (the inter-religious type), understanding of our diversity as a plus and not minus, because we schooled together – Christians and Muslims, learning to live as humans, brethren and friends, not as enemies/foes, as is the case today…
Allow good governance to solve our social problems in Jos, by increasing youth development initiatives in Jos (Bring back Boys’ Scout and Man O’War etc), addressing severe poverty and invest in youth vocational education and see how social tolerance will be guaranteed (while justice and fair-play are enforced).
Remember, how Christian mission schools protected the sanctity of diversity in our schools, with many Muslim- families accessing admissions to these schools, without discriminations, that’s another brave way to go, not the abundance of substandard private schools that aid and abate ethnic and religious bigotry and harbor horrendous ignorance in our children.
Tears in my eyes: Lets stop the attack on one another, along ethnic and religious grounds.
How long will you live on earth? 20, 50, or 70years? At most 130 years! Why must we sow seeds of continuous and future disharmony among our people (children)? How long?
Let there be justice in Jos! The type that will not segregate who is eligible for any political (socio-cultural) opportunities in Jos (tears in my eyes). The Wurom (Berom), Izere, Anaguta (Nabor), Irigwe, Bache and Buji knows the strengths and weaknesses of their Hausa-Fulani neighbors, more than anyone around them, because they (we), have lived together for more than a century (over hundred years) today. We can live together, because we are all good people and God’s creations.
In my view (of about forty years) the Hausa-Fulani are most hospitable people and simplest of all human beings in the world; although few criminals and religious extremists among them (like there are among us) seeking to erode these strengths.
Don’t allow anyone (groups) to incite you, nor allow yourselves to be consumed by fear of domination, marginalization and or ethnic and religious hatred for one another.
May these minority and deadly group among us seeking to erode our collective strengths, not succeed (Don’t just say Amen, walk-the-talk) and God will bless you (us).
Going forward, for us and for Jos:
Let’s stop labelling one another
Let governments (State and FG) protect all ethnic minorities of northern Nigeria, from prolonged (decades) siege by conflict entrepreneurs and criminals, especially those in Riyom, Barikin – Ladii, Bassa and parts of Bokkos and Mangu LGA’s etc.
It is now a proven fact, that, when the “minority groups are vulnerable, the majority groups become increasingly much more vulnerable”
Peace cannot be found in Jos, unless justice is given a total and fair chance.
Stop the fear of invasion, be brave, prepared and embrace love and tolerance.
Stop the forceful entry of farms and killing of farmers.
Stop your ignorance: todays power is not only in numbers but by the quality and productive and useful credentials of the people and leaders.
We must show our love for God by embracing one another along diversity and mutual – respect…
No Justice! No Peace!
No Mutual- Respect! No Harmony!
And yes, we can return to our dignified and good old days, or build a new environment for peace and social – harmony, where justice reigns and peace must abound.
Kichime Goyang Gotau (FCILG USA)
[email protected] https://tinyurl.com/4vd4hu8m