The Plateau conundrum again


This week reports came in to the effect that many people may have been killed in Plateau state. Initially, it looked as though it was the usual communal clashes that claim a few lives. Bad as that may be, but no one anticipated the large number of deaths as facts continued to emerge. At some point figures ranging between 100 to 300 were bandied.
Later the police came out to say at least 86 persons including men, women and children have been confirmed death. Subsequently we also heard that as a result young people took to the streets to maim and kill passersby who didn’t look like or sound like them. In the process the number of deaths continued to mount.

Prior to these killings, reports suggest that other issues may have led to the killings. Cattle belonging to certain persons were said to have been stolen or killed, properties destroyed and a few persons killed because a politician was arrested for corruption related offences. Youths of a certain ethnic group didn’t take kindly to it and resorted to violence. It is the violence that led to the first killings. After the first killings, apparently no effort was made to douse the situation and this was exploited one week later to unleash a bloody campaign of killings, blood, sorrow and death. While all these were going on, government had not intervened.

We hereby sympathize with everyone who may have lost loved ones in any capacity. Words are not enough to fully express our grief. Every death diminishes the living. And so it is for us. But the country itself has got to a situation where urgent and realistic measures are taken to stem the killings. It appears, mass deaths as occasioned by humans have grown astronomically. Or at least are more prominent. The blood that has flowed this year is terribly shameful. We understand that it is only when failures to check these killings occur that we the people cry most. We do not realize that efforts had been made to thwart eventualities. Sometimes there are slipups.

For example, in Plateau state, the joint military and police operation put together to promote and sustain peace in that region is still in place. Yet this carnage and its reprisals took place. Unfortunately it is human body counts that we are talking about. No excuses.
Thankfully, unlike normal practice, President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo promptly paid condolence visits to Plateau state. Their visits and discussions with residents are quite important in finding lasting solutions to the tragedy that is Plateau.
The villages where the carnage took place are located in three local governments in and around Jos, the state capital.

The president must therefore build on his and the vice president’s visits to find a common cause that will help all stakeholders live in peace. In our country, hatred appears to be the vogue now. Hating the next individual seems to have compounded our problems. We see how we curse one another even on the internet. It’s as if others should die off and leave whatever remains of Nigeria to us. That is not going to happen. We need each other. our strength is in our diversity. Yet government must take full responsibility in disabusing minds. First is to insist on justice and to tell it as it is. It is lame to claim that what has happened is politically motivated without providing any evidence and even naming names. Government should not use deaths to play politics either.

The single most important function of government is to provide security for us and our property. So when we lose our properties, lose our lives, and then government would have failed in its core objective. New security options will have to be designed and implemented forthwith. Government must find a new way to encourage community relations. Our community relations are very poor. Some of these deaths can be avoided and not all of them are security issues. Some are indeed communal issues that can be resolved through dialogue.

Government must get state governors to work. A system where state governors throw their hands in the air because they are not in charge of the Inspector General of Police is also a lame excuse. They understand the issues in their state better than a president and as such must lead the charge to improve harmonious relationship among various strata of their states. At all times, justice must not only be done but must be seen to have been done whenever there is a security breach.

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