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The slaughter on the Plateau

By Tony Momoh

More than any other gory event I have seen recently, the organised killings on the Plateau point to the total absence of God in our lives, in spite of whatever religion we profess to embrace. I am not referring to religion as the peg on which the problems on the Plateau are always being hung.

I am alarmed at the fact that what is happening on the Plateau can no longer be said to be just a flash in the pan. There has been some order to their occurrences since the beginning of this century, specifically since we began to introduce politics into the manifestation of our lives in any environment we find ourselves.

And instead of looking this problem in the face and addressing it, through boldly decongesting the political space, we back away and seek attractive scapegoats by pointing to differences of tribe and tongue; to who owns the land; and to religious beliefs.  On the Plateau, in the manipulation of tribe and tongue, we have those we call the indigenes and those we identify as settlers, the native groups that are represented by the Berom in Jos and the Hausa/Fulani who have been there for more than 300 years.

Because of the greed for office, those who have lived together as brothers and sisters have been told that water and ink do not mix. So today, the natives, so-called, are enemies of those they say are settlers, mainly from the North West.  Their properties are destroyed and their families are displaced.  No one is arrested or prosecuted.  No compensation is paid.

Tomorrow, those who have been displaced come in the dead of the night and burn houses and slaughter women and children and fleeing men. They are well-armed and no one can deny that even if they are settlers, they must have the sympathy of and support from where their ancestors also have the land they call their own.  We were in Bauchi some years ago and saw temporary homes built for those who had to flee their homes in Plateau State.

Obasanjo as president visited them, but the governor from whose state they were displaced had not been there!  Who then is in doubt about where the governor’s support lay?  Since that time, there have been at least three other blow-outs in which the so-called natives and so-called settlers drew dangerous weapons against one another, the qualification for death being that you were the enemies to be killed, not human beings that should live together in love and good neighbourliness.

Apart from tribe and tongue, land ownership has been an issue. The Hausa/Fulani say they came to Jos  generations ago and did not meet anyone there!  The Berom say you can’t just come to a forest and clear it and settle down there.  They say every hectare of land is owned, and they own Jos.

The argument may have been there all along, but not pushed; and so both groups have lived there together for generations.  Then when we made politics a business, the dam of tolerance collapsed  and washed away the feelings we have had for one another.  Jos is only one area where this horrible political heritage is being played out.  Writ large, are we not now making who rules the country a north and  south affair; who governs the state a senatorial district affair; and who controls the local council a clan affair?

And are we denying that this struggle for robbing the treasury has led to fraying nerves at the three tiers of government? The major mobilisation cry in many parts of  the country has been religion.  Religion, as a weapon of destabilisation, is handy in Jos.  The so-called settlers are Muslims and the so-called natives are Christians.  So when one group is organised by the cults that manipulate emotions of human beings for their personal greed, they pounce on another; and these managers of chaos tell the world that the people are fighting because of their religious differences.  The truth is that many things we purport to do in the name of God are for the benefit of  Satan.

Mouthing the name God when we do evil is blasphemy and the earlier we know it and reorder our lives, the better for everyone.  But millions of roadblocks are mounted to derail us in the reordering that is needed to make us feel in the shoes of others, that would make us understand that when we kill, we have in fact committed a future suicide in the present.   But why can’t this simple truth sink into us – that killing is an investment which will bear fruit for the killer to be killed.  Jos is not the only slaughter house in this country.  The greedy have more than the three ways we have mentioned as weapons of manipulating the people on the Plateau.  But the most deadly will continue to be religion.

Think.  It is estimated that the world has 6,000 religions.  A religion is one because it purports to have, in our case here,  God Almighty at the Centre of its operations.  So if we have 6,000 religions on earth, they must all be trying to reach out to their God in their different ways.  For reasons that may not be clear to us, they must be sensing that there is one outside of here, up there, that started this life we live, that is the author of it, from whom we came and to whom we return and must account.  In spite of so many people shouting and yelling the name of this their God, doing things in the name of that God, there must be One Neutral God, Who must be the Only True One but whose ways we may not know or understand in spite of the loud claims we make to claim Him as our property.

In His Name, we who call ourselves His creatures, relate one to the other  in blatant abuse of the power to cater for those who need help.  Islam and Christianity are the core religions we embrace.  I would like to be proved wrong when I claim that there are more churches and mosques on earth than at any other time in history,  more Christians and Muslims on earth than at any other time in history; and that there are more problems on earth than at any other time in history.

And since the church and the mosque will not be judged, being only buildings and places of worship, nor the Bible and the Qu’ran, being books of Guidance, it is the Christian and the Muslim that must answer for everything they do.  The Hausa and Berom on the Plateau are either Muslim or Christian. Their behaviours must therefore be our pointer to where they are working hard on earth to be at hereafter.

It must be that behaviour that we must use in judging them, because, come to think of it, we are equipped to know what is good and what is bad, what may be pleasing in the sight of God and what, by any definition, is satanic. The gory stories of killings on the Plateau are the schemes of men, not what God ordained or would, under any circumstances, endorse.  Many are the recognitions we must come to if we want to be leaders that God will open the gates of His Heaven to.  The slaughter on the Plateau must have a solution.  We must seek it.


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