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Jos crisis: When a mining city becomes an eternal killing field

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The Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Gyang Buba addressing the people at the Dogon Na Hauwa village yesterday.

By Charles Kumolu
IF many can turn back the hands of time, the political equation in Jos would have remained in its pre-1991 status.  For it is largely believed that efforts at taking governance to the door steps of the people literally sowed the seeds of discord that have turned Jos into a land of violence and destruction.

So, an action that was originally intended to usher in the gains or dividends of democracy turned out to be a curse on the land and the people have since then not known peace just as it appears that sleep has been murdered. It all began with the creation of Jos North Local Government Area through States Creation and Transition Provision Decree No 2 of 1991.

Unknown to those who conceived the idea and gave concrete expression to it, it has now become synonymous with the recurring decimal now known as the Jos crisis with high toll in human lives and property. In the process, the bond of brotherhood that used to exist appears to be permanently broken.

The result? The once peaceful plateau has transformed into a battle zone, where human lives are slaughtered at irregular intervals. Time was when Jos was famous for its tin mines. But today it is notorious as killing field. This is where Charles Darwin’s theory on survival of the fittest is always defeated, as both the unfit and fittest are usually eliminated.

Ethno-religious crisis

Therefore, it is now safe to conclude that life has become short, nasty and brutish in that North Central State.
Even while the nation has not come to terms with the last mayhem, another ethno-religious crisis hit the city on Sunday. But reporting the nightmarish incident invokes a feeling of it no longer being regarded as news.

This is because, considering the frequency at which this has continued to happen, the latest incident, even if it has recorded a higher casualty figure, stand the risk of being dismissed in some media quarters as not sufficiently newsworthy. Rather the news can only be found in a lasting solution to this perennial problem.

With that, questions surrounding the frequency or even the existence of the crisis might be laid to rest.
Anything below that, would keep tongues wagging. Instructively, these crises have always had religious colouration.

The last crisis that engulfed the city started when Christian youth tried to stop a Muslim man from renovating his house that was destroyed in the November 2008 riot.

Whatever colouration that might be given to the current one, many feel that implementation of the Ajibola panel recommendations, would make a difference in the search for a peaceful Jos.

The incumbent administration of Governor David Jang had set up the Bola Ajibola Commission of Inquiry into the recurring crisis in the state.

Accordingly the 339-page report faulted the creation of the local government area by former Military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.

The Ajibola commission also said it was not satisfied by the explanations of former President Ibrahim Babangida that he did not create Jos North local government to favour a particular group. The commission said it found out that the former military president created Jos North local government in 1991 to favour the Hausa Fulani of Jos North as it was the Hausa Fulani community that demanded for the local government in the form in which it was created.

It also recommended that the present Jos North Local Government be re-delineated into three sustainable local governments with an equitable representative number of wards within each local government, while “the state government should give due consideration to all ethnic groupings in appointments, nominations and promotions within the state.”

In addition, it recommended that the state government should promote inclusion and participation through a ‘State Character’ principle similar to the Federal Character policy of the Federal Government, “as this would take into consideration citizens’ right in any part of Nigeria that they may find themselves.

“This means that all persons who are bona fide citizens should have equal rights, opportunities and access and not to deny those designated as non-indigenes of an area the access to some of the most important avenues of socio economic mobility be it government jobs, academic scholarships, university admission or fees,” it noted.

While observers ponder over why these recommendations have not been acted upon, the fact remains that the succession of violence in Jos has forced peace to go on exile. And the question remains: When will it return?

Let’s wait for Ajiboye panel

As Ajibola Commission was wrapping up its duties, General Emmanuel Abisoye (rtd) Presidential Panel of Inquiry was set up by the Federal Government.

Accordingly, it commenced sitting at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) Kuru, Plateau State. It is believed that the Hausa/Fulani who allegedly refused to make appearance before Ajibola Commission stormed the venue of the sitting with their memoranda along with others.

Among the burning issues raised by the Hausa/Fulani under the auspices of Jama’tu Nasril Islam before the Abisoye Commission are that the crisis was political in nature having arisen as a result of the Local Government election in Jos North Local Government Area.

Also the allegation that Governor Jonah Jang used his military connection, especially the Air force to exterminate the Hausa/Fulani in favour of his kinsmen, and that the governor gave the police and the Army shoot on sight order but government has consisted refuted this allegation.

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