Jos— Brig. Gen. Henry Ayoola, Commander, Special Task Force for peace in Plateau, has blamed the lingering crises in the state on deep-seated animosity and mutual fear of domination.
“The crisis is multi-faceted and multi-dimensional; we have found that there is a deep-seated animosity, distrust and mutual suspicion among the warring communities,” Ayoola told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, in Jos, yesterday.
According to him, “the violence is concisely centred on politics and premised on the struggles and desire to control resources.
“There are perceived fears and threats of domination with the locals feeling that there is a deliberate attempt to dominate them.
“They have lived together for long with the herdsmen, but they feel that the herdsmen are no more willing to subject themselves to the local authorities and this is why we have the persistent clashes,” he said.
He said that the STF had been able to largely restore peace and order as the violence was no more as severe, and was usually devoid of the hitherto massive involvment.
“What the STF has tried to do is to restore mutual confidence toward permanent peace; that is only possible if we win the hearts and minds of the warring communities toward accepting each other as one.
“It is when the people see and accept each other as one that they will live together in peace without anyone forcing them to do so,” he said.
He said that the STF had initiated some “effect-based” programmes and strategies to help warring communities to interact more with each other and also to promote more civil-military cooperation toward peace building.
One of such initiatives, he said, is the Plateau Youth Employment Scheme (Plateau-YES), a quick impact scheme that involves vocational training, youth parleys, football tournaments and youth peace walk.
Also involved in the Plateau-YES initiative is educational sponsorship that has offered scholarships to many primary, secondary and tertiary schools students, while some classrooms had been renovated to attract more youths into schools.
The initiative has also ensured the reactivation of bore-holes and free medical outreaches to many communities in Jos South, Barkin-Ladi, Riyom and Jos North, as well as youth seminars in leadership training which was held at Shere hills in Lamingo.
He said that the STF had also initiated a scheme that would help the people to manage post-crises, especially for those that may have physically witnessed an attack on, and possibly the killing of close relations.
The STF boss said that the medical outreach scheme had recorded thousands of beneficiaries with surgeries carried out on 42 people, while a pregnant woman was delivered of her baby through a Caesarian operation.
Ayoola said that the commonest surgeries were carried on patients with hernia, appendicitis, lumps and other ailments.
“We also discovered that many people had high blood Pressure; we gave drugs to some so as to stabilise them.”