By Mohammed Adamu
I had asked myself intuitively what else was there to write about the ethno-religious- bloody-letting on Jos (Plateau) that had not been written before. Or that I have not written about before now!? Is it the virtually ‘do-nothing-say-nothing’ attitude of the clueless, near-complicit Jonathan administration on the Jos massacres, or is it the notorious failure, usually, of our ‘un-intelligent’-or maybe ‘over-intelligent’- ‘Intelligence’ organisations; or better still the subtle, guile-and sometimes barefaced complot- of our compromised kind of journalism practice?
Once when I wrote ‘Jos: Let’s cut the lies and the half truths’, PEOPLES DAILY, (Jan, 29, 2010) I had lamented the new genre of compromised journalism which now comes with an array of fast-growing, ethno-religious, “cut-stitch-and-paste editors operating in the guise of true vanguards of state; editors now, who resort to “aggressor-patronage” on Jos in order to feed subsisting ethno-religious and geo-political ends!
You read in the papers statements like: “Christians and Muslims in Jos killing” or “have killed each other” even when obviously it is the Muslims that are counting bodies. Or you read: “both Muslims and Christians in Jos have lost loved ones” even when the ratio is virtually a gapping one or two Christians to 500 Muslim casualties (like in the Kuru Karama pogrom); or you read that ‘Churches and Mosques have been burnt’ by irate members of the two faiths” even where the ratio is actually one or two churches again to maybe 50 or more mosques; or yet that ‘property worth millions have been lost by both sides in the crisis’ even though you knew only one side, namely the Muslims, had always lost property worth any lamentable value!
And all these, in the very Jos that we all know where virtually un-enterprising and un-enterprisable, so called ‘indigenes’ had once premeditatedly wired and detonated a whole state-of-the-art Modern Market (where they had virtually not a ‘pin’ to lose), but nonetheless which they had alleged the so-called ‘settler-shop-owners’, self-harmingly imploded to ruin their own investments! How about that!
If the media had dispassionately dug half as deep the ‘facts’ and the ‘truth’ about Jos, just as they did to unearth the ‘street name’, the ‘house number’ and the family history, in Cairo, of the 13-year old Egyptian ingénue Yarima had married according to Islamic rites (but which our ethno-religiously bigoted media claimed was against the grains of an un-ratified so called ‘Child Rights Act), maybe Jos would long have been unraveled and the active volcano on the angry Plateau, even if it harbored ‘molten magma’ as hot as the famous mount ‘Etna’ of Sicily, Jos would’ve long been cooled! That’s how powerful we can be!
The plateau has continued to spurt because the media-more than so-called ‘politicians with motives’- want it to spurt! It has been the trend that whenever the Hausa/Fulani of Jos are the victims of impassioned, muckraking, ethno-religious, so-called ‘natives’, journalists have always pretended to be clueless and to have not the vaguest idea who the aggressors are! Or where, in deference to obvious facts already (or potentially soon to be) known to the public, the media are constrained not to deny persistent and stubborn ‘facts’, you would notice that such news report if it ever makes it to the front page, may not, after all necessarily lead the page!
Or if by any chance it does, you bet it would hardly be as factually represented as whenever ‘reprisal attacks’ by Muslims usually get to be reported with the usual pain and anger that drips over the gapping words of journalists concerned with the sanctity of the lives of their fellow countrymen! And worse if the ‘reprisals’ are by angry, Fulani-victims who are known not to ever let go off a ‘pound of flesh’.
But again even if stories of unprovoked killings of Muslims by government-sponsored youths in Jos ever get the media attention they deserve including having ‘boldly’ and ‘factually’ carried them on the front page (which remains obviously a Sisyphean and futile presumption), the question remains: do such stories always run their life span according to their intrinsic socio-political news value?
In fact, you would notice, for example, that because the notorious Boko Haram menace is a profitable socio-political-below-the-belt ‘jab’ now on the groin of the Muslim North, the media has never failed, almost on a daily basis, to larch on to it, pleasurably ‘rubbing it in’ as with a ‘joy-stick’ in a severely itchy ear! For example: all five news items on the front page of a certain national newspaper of Wed, Sept 14, 2011 including the lead story, are on Boko Haram! Beat that!
Yet, in all reportorial cases what is always the denominator on the Jos crises (and especially when Muslims are the victims of premeditated, carefully-planned ethnic-cleansing by so-called ‘natives’ or ‘indigenes’), is that news reports, especially from that are trivially promoted as some kind of ‘Charge Office’ report of a case of ‘two-fighting’; -this kind of ‘na-who-slap-who-first’ story which even the Police only solve in the end by believing ‘de pessin who com report de mata first’!
Just like the last un-provoked ‘Id-Ground attack on harmless and un-armed supplicating Muslims. You would notice that most papers instead of using the words ‘Christians’ or ‘natives’ to refer to the aggressors, used rather, carefully selected ‘non-accusatorial’, ‘generic’ phrases like ‘The attackers’, ‘the assailants’, ‘the groups’ or the ‘irate youths’! But when the Fulani hit back last week, they were ‘Moslem terrorists’ and ‘Islamic fundamentalists’!
That is about how forward we have moved!