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Nigeria: So What Happened in Jos?

Port Harcourt — What really happened in Jos, the Plateau State capital on Sunday, January 17 and the days that followed? Was it a religious crisis? Was it an ethnic crisis? Was it a communal crisis? Was it a political crisis? Was it an economic crisis? What really happened?

I must confess I can’t really say what happened. Was it one of those Nollywood acts or those killings and destruction were there real or make belief?

If it was a religious crisis, why should one attempt to force another to accept or practice a religion in a country whose constitution guarantees freedom of worship? Some persons are asking me whether Nigeria and Nigerians follow their constitution, forgive me, I am not well versed on constitutional matters; you may wish to ask the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.

Why would anyone kill in the name of a god? God is a spirit and man is physical. Spiritual wars should be left to the spirits to fight while physical wars should be left to man to fight and the best physical war is to strive to love and be your brother’s keeper.

Religion is a spiritual matter and spiritual things are more of a personal adventure than a mass movement or what one does out of coercion. When a man kills on behalf of his god, it is either the god is a blood sucking demon or it is a dead or deaf and dumb god that cannot fight his cause and needs human beings to fight for him. Defending one faith does not mean taking arms against one another or fighting and killing people who do not share your belief.

Was it an ethnic issue that caused the crisis? We are told that in the beginning god created one man and one woman and from them all the families on the earth that we have today came from. This means originally we all came from the same source or stock.

We are children from the same womb, then why do we fight and kill one another because in the course of time we have multiplied and replenished the earth and in the process our physical appearance, skin colour, language, habit and character have changed. Why don’t we celebrate these changes and difference rather than our common ancestry?

If the last Jos crisis was politically motivated who are the politicians behind the violence? What are they struggling for: the control of Jos or Plateau state? Was the crisis a product of difference in party affiliation? Is it an attempt by one party to rubbish another in the build up to 2011?

Since civilian administration resumed in 1999 how much has party politics and politicians impact positively on the lives of the ordinary Nigerians? Which political party or political interest is worth the lives and property wasted as a result of the recent violence in Jos?

One may ask, why do people seek political offices, is it not to serve the people? Why must you kill the same people you are supposed to serve in a bid to serve them? Why must politician kill if his dream and desire is to meet the need of the people?

So what happened in Jos? Was it poverty of the pockets or poverty of the mind? Whatever, poverty is poverty! The Bible says that as long as the earth remains the poor would not cease, that means poverty cannot by eradicate. Poverty will always be there and there is nothing man can do about it. But blaming every societal problem on poverty is not good.

Some are saying that poverty is responsible for the Jos crisis as some poor persons were hired or manipulated to carry out the killings and destruction in the land. One may ask were the bank chiefs who are today being hunted by EFCC poor by Nigerian standard to warrant the economic crimes the allegedly committed. Is violence now a means of empowering the poor or poverty alleviation?

Agreed that a hungry man is an angry man but it has not been proven that a hungry man is a violent man. Agreed also that a poor man, at times, may do desperate things but some may not risk their lives to embark on such violence that we saw in Jos. a real poor man values his life and hopes that one day luck may smile on him.

My problem with Nigeria is that we are a bunch of hypocrites, pretenders and insincere people. Why should people be killing other on a yearly basis and destroying their property and means of survival under whatever guise and nothing is done as nobody has ever been punished or reprimanded. Why must violence be recurring in a particular section of the country and the cycle of violence continues and is now a quarterly ritual.

We must stop pretending and sit down at a conference table (call the conference any name you choose) where all the ethnic groups would be represented and discuss the basis of our continued co-habitation as Nigerians. Even at this, have they not been conferences on similar issues in the past.

There is no need beating about the bush, you can call it what you like but if we are actually one nation why should people from certain section of the country take delight in terrorizing other people, especially those who do not share the same faith and ethnic affinity with them. There is no need pretending about unity and cohesion in this country they do not exist and we must be sincere about it.

Immediately you meet a Nigerian he would ask you which state you come from, if he is from your state he would want to know you local government, clan, village and family. It is a pity we relate with people base on where the come from and not who you are as individual. Every human being is unique though persons from certain tribes may have similar traits or character. But we are used to faulty generalization and labelling people who come from certain part of the country.

My people have a saying that a person that sees another in the bush does not know that he comes from somewhere. Should every Nigerian return to his village so that peace may prevail in the country? Would this bring peace? Won’t there be family squabbles, inter and inter village crisis that may spread to other communities and society that are not directly involve in the issues in contention?

Man cannot operate in isolation we need one another to survive so we must learn to tolerate and accept the other person. We must teach our younger ones how to welcome and accept strangers in our midst. We should stop blaming non indigenes or stranger element for all the woes in our communities.

It is unfair for citizens who pay tax in states where they reside but they are non indigenes not to be protected by their host states. Any nation-state that cannot protect the lives and property of a stranger within its borders has no moral right to demand taxes from such residents.

These days Nigerians provide their own water and energy needs, would federal government also allow Nigerians that right to protect and preserve their lives and property wherever they find themselves in the country and by any means they are able to do so, if and when their lives and property are under threat. If government cannot protect Nigerians from attacks and harassment from other Nigerians the people should be allow to protect themselves anyhow from attacks. To avoid reprisal attacks from families of those who are killed during these senseless crises government has adopted a system of mass burial. Mass graves and burials do not swallow the memories pain scars, tears and sorrows of the violence.

A family may not actually tell where their loved ones were buried but the have in it mind that their loved ones died during one crisis in Jos, Kaduna, Bauchi, Uyo or anywhere and at the slightest opportunity may avenge for such killings. Some of those who died during violence may be an only child, a sole family bread winner and the relations may not forget them in a hurry. Government, at the state and federal levels, must put a stop to all forms of needless and senseless crisis to lead to the shedding of blood and destruction of property in the country.

If government cannot protect lives and property it should be bold enough to tell Nigerians so that they can make alternative arrangement for their safety. Governor Jang seems to know the sponsors and masterminds of the crisis, he should name them. Also those found guilty of the 2008 crisis in Jos and other crises across the country should be punished.

As long as government fails to implement reports of the various panels, and judicial commissions there would continue to be violence, after all violence begets violence and no man or group has monopoly over violence. This is our Golden Jubilee year and it should be a year of sober reflection- should we continue as one country? We should be honest and stop pretending we are one country. As our tongues and tribes differ so do our interests, are we living like brothers that we claim to be?

Story by Tony Ita Etim
Source from AllAfrica.com

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