A biting wind of acrimony recently wailed across Plateau State as the dedication of a prayer altar built by immediate past Governor, Mr. Jonah Jang, saw brickbats fly between opposing political camps in the State.
The dedication of the 10 Commandments Prayer Altar built at Doi, Jos South local government area, by the Yeshua Kingdom Foundation International of which Mr. Jonah Jang is president was done on December 10,2021.
In attendance was former President, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan, Pastor Seyi Malomo of the Aso Villa Chapel who represented Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and Hosea Finangwai, the Plateau State Commisioner for Agriculture who represented Governor Simon Lalong, and many other dignitaries from within and outside the State.
At the dedication of the prayer altar which can seat over 5000 people at a time, Mr. Goodluck Jonathan paid glowing tributes to Mr. Jonah Jang and Mr. Yakubu Gowon, a former military President and convener of Nigeria Prays. He lauded them for leading efforts to pray for Nigeria.
Now, there can be no mistake. For many years, Plateau people and Nigerians have prayed for peace in the State and in the country at large but only very little has changed.
In a State where religion and ethnicity have been fashioned into a witch`s wand with which intractable crisis after intractable crisis is invoked, the good people of the State who have shown remarkable fortitude in the face of ethnic provocation and government dereliction have grown wary of political prayers and the politics of religion.
As the rot eating out the heart of the country continues unimpeded, Plateau people and Nigerians have grown weary of the sinister politics of religious symbolism. Mosques and churches in the country overflow with congregants, yet the situation of the country continues to deteriorate.
The Nigeria Prays project for example, just like the NYSC, remains one man`s desperate attempt to expiate guilt for the mass starvation of children he supervised during the Nigerian Civil War.
Then there was the `Day of forgiveness’ declared in the State not long ago by Mr. Lalong which came complete with a public holiday. Now, Mr. Jonah Jang, has raised a prayer altar that has seen verbal clashes between his camp and Mr. Lalong `s. As if under Mr. Jang the holistic development of Plateau State was not sacrificed on the altar of ethnicism and tribal politics.
Plateau people remember that it was under his administration that ethnicism was enthroned as an unofficial policy of state. It got so bad then that at the expiration of his tenure, he sought to jettison the power sharing agreement in the State in favour of supporting a candidate from his ethnic group. It fittingly ended in a wildly embarrassing failure.
Now, while he has raised a prayer altar, Mr. Yakubu Gowon leads Nigeria Prays and Mr. Goodluck Jonathan applauds their efforts. In the same vein, yearly pilgrimages to Mecca and Jerusalem do Nigeria very little good as well as farcically elaborate prayer breakfasts.
In a country of mosques and churches, Nigeria does not lack for prayers. Neither is God far from a country where loudspeakers blare out prayers round the clock. Nigeria`s problem is a lack of proactivism – the type that nips insecurity and poverty in the bud and precludes disturbingly frequent national tragedies before they occur; the type that irreducibly demands accountability and transparency.
Where are the reports of the various panels set up at different times to look into the crises that have episodically convulsed Plateau State? How much implementation has been given to their recommendations? How many people or groups have been held to account and sanctioned under the various reports for the many massacres that have gone on in the State?
In a country of false religion, lip service to the tenets of true religion is as popular as lip sticks are with women. In a country where do-nothing politicians get into public office, steal public funds and use them to build mosques and churches, prayer is a show for the gullible and impressionable.
While prayer rises day and night even from the lying lips of those who should take responsibility for the killings going on in Plateau State, killers move around butchering women and children before sacking and renaming communities.
The good people of Plateau State want to know the vampire bats among them. They want to know those who wet the altars of atrocities in the State with the blood of innocent children.
They want to know those who find malignant celebration in the renaming of ancient communities by Fulani herdsmen. They want to know those relentlessly determined to reduce a once breathtakingly beautiful State to a heap of cold ashes.
Plateau people want to know those who hold aloft the banner of religion and ethnicity while butchering innocent women and children. They want to know those who clasp prayer beads in one hand while holding in the other hand the clubs with which they hack innocent women and children to death. They want to know those who justify the pain they inflict on others with the prescripts of religion and ethnicism.
They want to know those who mouth the name of a good God while reducing once sprawling communities to ghost towns. Such people have no place in Plateau State and in Nigeria. That Nigeria`s home of peace and tourism has become a husk of pain and terror tells a brutal story.
That from Barkin- Ladi to Bassa, people in the State have to sleep with one eye open tells a tale of scandalous insecurity. When impoverished communities retire from their farms and markets to rest before the next day`s hard work in Wase, killers pounce and send them to their early graves.
The circus continues. Politicians can pray all they want and bicker all they can. But all those who love the State must dust up their voter cards and keep vigil for 2023.