Plateau State and Ravaging Insecurity
Just from the blues while the people were managing their peace, some ruffians emerged abruptly on the Plateau and enthroned the rule of terrorism under the ‘Republic of Violence’.
Labeled as bandits or herders, they are devoted to only brutish and indiscriminate killings of human beings, perpetrating looting, raping and arson with great passion. But if the desire is to proffer lasting solution to the lingering problem, we should then most sincerely ask ourselves why and what were the remote causes of the deadly acts from the onset in 2021 or there about? Ethno-religious cleansing or what? Who then ignited the trouble and why?
The mainstream of the wretched on the Plateau across ethno-religious divide are mainly the usual casualties of the heinous and senseless killings. Their troubled world is controlled by excessive and persistent, fears of incessant attacks by the murderers as if they were state enemies. Having degraded their living to the theatre of game of death their costly blood has become cheaper than water which cannot circumvent the horrors of the evil beasts. The merciless assassins have murdered the fragile peace of the downtrodden and installed sorrow, tears and despair unabated!
Alarmingly, ethno-religious crisis, banditry and terrorism are now a mega industry recruiting and breeding more terrorists to hike the general level of mass destructions and dislocations of law and order on the Plateau. In spite of the efforts by our gallant soldiers and other security agencies, yet it is obvious that the expected light to be sighted at the end of the tunnel is still a big mirage. What is then the way out?
Plateau State, largely populated by ethnic minorities, is conspicuously trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea. It is on the brink of a precipice because it lacks the political will to decipher and acknowledge its deeply rooted social diseases spreading destructions, but is pre-occupied with fruitless battling with symptoms as the only remedy to its socio-economic turmoil. Consequently, the people are timid or hypocritical in interrogating themselves some thought provoking questions which are inevitable for salvation.
The most wretched on mother earth that are the direct casualties and targets of the continuous attacks, are left there calling for a war or a gang-up to fight the ‘invisible’. That’s mere foolishness out of frustration that cannot be of any help other than escalation of violence and more casualties. It had happened, the natives were gingered and encouraged to fight back with an alleged support of government and some influential ethno-religious bigots. That has not solved the problem since 2021 when the crisis started.
For instance, how did the people find themselves in that most embarrassing and frustrating situation? How bad are the people doing and how well are people in other states developing in peace? Are there no other ethnic nationalities or religious adherents in other states enjoying abundance of peace? Who are the architects of the lingering predicament? They must be fished out! How are the people planning to unchain themselves from the zone of self-destructions to self-actualization? What is the rate of involvement of self-appointed religious leaders and preachers in fanning the embers of hatred on the Plateau that we are now paying with our precious lives?
Why are the people allowing subversive tendencies and derogatory preaching from certified religious ignorant and agents of devil to shape their social living? What will be the future of Plateau State if the notorious cankerworm persists? Your Guess is as good as mine!
These are few questions that should be hitting and knocking hard on the minds of the people to stimulate them and wake up from protracted slumber and pursuit of a shadow in order to rescue their state from further drifting by departing from the danger zone of ethno-religious chauvinism.
Undoubtedly, this unbridled criminality (terrorism/banditry) is a product of bad governance as well as collapse of jingoism. From general assessment, there is scarcity of foresight in Plateau State on where the people want to be and how to reach there because they have imbibed the culture of ‘misplaced’ fight. Their belief is predominantly focused on doing what they think is right than doing things that are right and conventional. While the former is negative and myopic in reality, the latter is positive and progressive. That was the thinking of the Plateau people in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s and even in the early 90s. Thus, their socioeconomic infection is not given the treatment it deserves just as a doctor refuses to diagnose a disease and allows the patient to die.
I candidly view ethno-religious cleansing and terrorism as symptoms of a contamination called retrogressive society. The more we deliberately discard this fact, the longer the end of disaster and hence the turbulent journey to the last bus stop.
Recall that a retrogressive society strives by reproducing and conserving the conditions of its own survival in the midst of progressing societies. Essentially therefore, Plateau State from the look of things is not ready to usher in a paradigm shift to eliminate its destructive socioeconomic and political structures. Outgoing governor Lalong tried to achieve that, his efforts were frustrated and his person became a subject of ridicule by blood thirsty criminals grabbed in ethno-religious attires.
It was Micheal Oakeshott who argued that to be retrogressive or conservative is to prefer the familiar to the unknown, prefer the tried to the untried, the limited to the unbounded.
Are the mass of the people guilty of boycotting new discoveries of Governor Lalong to usher-in everlasting peace for a rebranded Plateau State or not?
As a people, they seem proud to preserve the extreme class of the rich, secured and the extreme vulnerable class of the poor. This gives rise to class and ethno-religious antagonism, distinction etc. Whatever the factors the orthodox arrangement may be it is not a socioeconomic setting that strives in all the other states of Nigeria.
Of course, the blood thirsty terrorists who unleashed mayhem in Kuru, Riyom, Anguldi, Vom, Bukuru, Jos, Naraguta, Bassa, Dogo Nahauwa, Bisichi, Barikin Ladi, Dara-Du, Gindin Akwati (Ex-land) etc, and of recent Mangu, are just a symptom of a social infection consciously and devilishly created to destabilize Plateau State under an ethno-religious guise. That is why the people are acting the script of human catastrophe on the Plateau and are not analyzing their devilish activities beyond the surface level. The unrepentant villains across the divide are products of an ailing system of a class society among others.
To buttress this point, some interviewed apprehended suspects confessed to have been offended by their targets, neglected by the government and pushed by social vices to commit atrocities. Nevertheless, that cannot be accepted as genuine reason for gruesome murder, arson, looting and rape.
If our governments have made judicious utilization of state resources spiced with sincere policies and commitment to peaceful co-existence and overall inclusiveness as was the case, heartless murderers and ethno-religious bigots could have since relocated out of our shores or repented.
Related to this hard fact, the governments of Plateau and other states have continued to neglect agriculture as the mainstay of the economy despite the absence of other channels for wealth creation to reduce the level of poverty among the people with its vast arable land. Abject poverty and unemployment are some of the backbones of the persistent crisis rocking the state. It is lamentable that agriculture, animal husbandry and skills acquisition are neglected at the peril of the people. The former famous Plateau State Vocational Training Centre is a replica of its former self. Private investors have since closed shop and relocated to safer climes. Tourism which was a huge revenue source to the coffers of the state is on its knees. Other state revenue generating holdings such as Jos Hotel, Plateau Hotel, Hill Station Hotel etc are dead. Efforts were made to rebuild the destroyed Jos main market for revenue generation and employment opportunities, ethno-religious bigots and undertakers of the state hurriedly rushed to the court to hold the effort without providing an alternative even from the Vatican City or any of the Pentecostal organizations. Is that how to progress in peace? I keep on wondering aloud!
To conserve and sustain the retrogression order for our underdevelopment, most governments are more into building powerful individuals with hidden agendas against the collective progress of the people rather than constructing a strong and virile state in which the average and ordinary people will enjoy a dignified living. Able-bodied educated youths are left to roam the streets hawking carrots, birds and vegetables while few have joined the trade of internet fraud to sustain a living or waiting anxiously for any ethno-religious crisis to erupt to participate in killing the innocent along roads that pass through their localities and looting unabated.
With this negative trend, our leaders are not interested in serving the less privileged but to concentrate their vast resources to build new worlds while the downtrodden are encouraged to fight for the protection of the land and religions. This uncharitable character is a training ground for the evolution of envious and broken men and the end result is what we have today.
The bandits and terrorists of our generation are too unrefined that they enjoy and celebrate mass murders. This is notwithstanding, they are not pure evils as we think but the negative of positive evil. It is therefore condemnable that our retrogressive structure is the positive evil, the father of banditry and terrorism. Bandits and terrorists can be killed on a mass scale at a time but no amount of armored tanks, air bombardment or military prowess can eliminate banditry and terrorism if this retrogressive setting remains what it is.
All those states with lingering security challenges should strive to go back to the drawing board to launch heavy assaults against the virus that caused the disease not the symptom. I most sincerely hope Governor Samuel Ortom is listening as he is vacating office without restoring peace in Benue State. He created the problem and is now running away from his troubles.
Muhammad is a commentator on national issues