By Mohammed Adamu
“There is no sure foundation set on blood, No certain life achieved by others’ death” (King John, Shakespeare)
Jos is a sickening metaphor of a potential conflagration that seriously bothers my subconscious. We live in fears of possible present-dangers, but worse than that are the horrible imaginings of what the Jos of today may rub off the Nigeria of tomorrow. We must arrest this senseless and vicious cycle of bloodbath on the Plateau before it consumes us all.
Rubbing only the surface of the Jos crises without a dispassionate effort at grabbing its root, is being ‘pennywise and pound foolish.’
We are a prayerful people, Muslims and Christians. We are a God-fearing nation, Nigeria. In fact, we believe that God has His throne above our immediate firmament. But the truth is we are worse than “Stiff-necked and rebellious Jews.” And, as the Quran says: notwithstanding our prayers, “Allah will not change the situation of a people until they change the evil that reside in their hearts.”
What the Jos crisis requires is a ‘living government’ and genuine mobilisation of character by true and sincere Muslims as well as Christians, together facing up to the hard facts of the ethno-cultural and religious realities of the Jos topography. Violence has never been known not to beget violence’. When victims are very sure that it will happen again; when they know for certain that government will do nothing; and worse even when they believe that government has a hand in it; naturally they are bound to take their destinies in their hands! And, which is what is happening in Jos. Everyone for himself…
That cannot long endure! When President Goodluck Jonathan (on his first visit after Kuru Karama) boldly said it would never happen again, it sounded easier said! And, we all chorused ”amen” and then, we went to sleep! But, the truth is ‘prayer availeth only who availeth himself to action’. We did nothing then and we are still doing nothing even now.
It is “the excellent foppery of the world” Shakespeare wrote “that when we are sick in fortune –often the surfeit of our own behaviour-, we make guilty of our disasters, the sun, the moon and the stars as if we were villains by necessity; (and) fools by heavenly compulsion.” Nothing has changed in our approach to crisis management. In all moments of life-wasting crisis -“often the surfeit of our own behaviour”-, we still make guilty of our disasters, the “failure of intelligence” without ever holding the ‘intelligentsia’ itself responsible.
We have always nebulously blamed the ‘political class’ or ‘the elites’ for virtually every mayhem, but we lack the courage, away from the ‘class’, to name the culprit ‘politicians’ or from among the so-called ‘elites’ beam the klieg lights on the faces of the guilty ones.
Most annoyingly, we set up probes, inquiries and such other time-wasting searches, and, in the end, we turn in reports laden with the usual clichés of excuses and the nebulous ineffectual blaming of ‘faceless perpetrators’. ‘Reports’ which we are always too glad to submit with ‘ceremony’, and then unceremoniously, we are only too glad to deck on the shelf or consign to the dusty archives.
But the truth is Jos remains to us a delicate ever regressing national sore or boil on the bottom of our socio-political life! Either because we’ll not apply the right ointment or we will not ingest the necessary drugs; or yet we’ll not do the painful therapies or the inevitable surgeries.
Why would intelligence not fail us when the only intelligence we appear to know how best to collect on crisis management, is always after harm has been caused. Or, at the very best, unavailing bits obtained always ‘seconds to catastrophe’! Or worse ‘intelligence’ from unconfirmed rumours and hearsays flying on and off pages of newspapers. We should be tired of ‘aftermath’ intelligence reports. We want pre-emptive action. We want genuine reconciliation!
I ask myself ‘what do we say to Jos? What do we say to the plateau? What should we say to the city above all cities? The capital atop the mountain top? How can we say ‘weep not the beloved city of the green cactus’, when we stand hands akimbo, watching, while the very pricks that should be her armour and her defence are now her veritable ‘harm’, piecing and bleeding Jos across limbs, trunk and torso? When will we ever do something? Just ‘anything’! Other than leaving Jos to its own instincts!
And to Josites
“Revenge is an act of passion; vengeance of justice”. Or so wrote Joseph Joubert. ‘Injuries’ he said “are revenged; crimes are avenged”. But the Biblical saying: “leave vengeance to me” and the Islamic injunction: “forgive, especially at the peak of your anger” sound to me nobler. The ‘morale’ being: “Rather suffer an injustice than commit one.”