BY TAYE OBATERU & MARIE-THERESE NANLONG
Jos— Residents of the Plateau State capital welcomed the New Year with pomp in celebration of the gradual return of peace to the state. Many said they are happy that the Christmas and New Year celebrations were devoid of the tension caused by security threats of previous years.
Many residents attended the ‘cross over’ services in various churches on the eve of the new year after which they took to the streets in celebration to welcome the new year.
This was a departure from the situation in the last couple of years due to security challenges witnessed in the state.
The residents who were mostly youths after the crossover services in their respective churches took to the streets with drums and songs visiting members’ houses for prayers and gifts were given by the family head of each house to the elated youths.
The celebration which commenced a few minutes after 12am saw the youths visiting till about 5am before retiring to their houses.
Different shades of fireworks were on display and bonfires were made on streets along Bauchi ring road, Apata, Busa Buji, Lamingo, Hwolshe, Dadin Kowa among others while residents stayed out till the early hours of the morning, a situation which is a departure of what was obtained in the recent past.
The situation was not different in other local government areas as Vanguard made calls to some residents who confirmed that the new year was celebrated with pomps in the villages.
Expressing their views to Vanguard, a resident, Pastor Emmanuel Anoke said he was very happy with the turn of event as it signifies that peace has returned especially in Jos.
Anoke urged residents to maintain the peace so that the celebration will not be a one off thing and the true atmosphere of the yuletide season which is celebration will continually be seen in the State.
On expectation in 2014, he said the year will be good especially to those who are committed to God and called on other residents to continue to draw closer to God and keep the peace.
Another resident, Ezekiel Sunday said he was happy to see Jos residents celebrating the Christmas and new year eve outdoor and even tourists and recreation centres throughout the week witnessed influx of people who walked the streets without fear.
He recalled what the season used to be in the past when he was a teenager and appealed to every resident to guard the peace which has returned jealously to ensure a better celebration in the years to come.
His words, “I am happy with the situation, peace has actually returned because the number of people found in the churches and in the streets after the crossover services tell the story.
“In the past two to three years, we have not been having anything like this but we thank God who has answered our prayers and made the celebration possible, we believe year 2014 will be a better one for all of us.”
Yet another, Musa Agwom attributed the peaceful celebration to answered prayers and efforts of the security personnel.
He observed that even the churches witnessed turnout of many members for the crossover services, a situation which has not been seen recently as churches had to hold their crossover services as early as 4pm with maximum of two hours spent in the churches.
He said, “for us to stay in the churches for more than four hours and the youths freely moving in the streets till daybreak is a sign of good things to come in 2014 and I am appealing to the same youths not to allow themselves to be used to truncate this new found peace as the experience is worth having again and again.’’
However, security agency was not left out of the celebration as the Plateau State Police Command fetes its senior officers at its Mess on the eve of the new year.
The State Police Commissioner, Chris Olakpe appreciated the efforts of the officers who worked tirelessly to reduce the crime rate in the state, gave gifts to outstanding officers and charged the men and officers of the Command to do more in the new year for a better Plateau State.