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Returning “Paradise” to the Plateau (II)

The Coalition for Peace in Plateau says further: “Do not forget that when we meet in public places, schools and markets, we pretend to be friends and brothers, but when we return to our homes and places of worship, the identity changes, and is let loose at the slightest provocation. This is the situation of the nomadic Fulani and indigenous communities of North-Central Nigeria. In more recent times in North-Central Nigeria, the difference between herdsmen and crop farmers has become more dreadfully amplified than at any other time. And since the onset of the past decade, Plateau State has become quite symbolic and representative of ethno-religious conflict.  

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The “StandforPeace” says further: “When an elder statesman called on his people to protect themselves, it was merely a reminder of the fact that the (Nigerian) state is losing its ability to protect the common man against armed aggression. While (his) call may sound obscene and insane to an outsider, it might be the only alternative left for a helpless villager. However, with the proliferation of arms that threaten to saturate the Northern parts of Plateau State, preventing and resolving ethno-religious conflict would demand…strong political will. However, the much needed political will cannot be achieved….(since it is only one side of the story of the conflict that is usually amplified). Where the state [media] focuses its camera on only one side, the inevitable threat of that single story becomes more (frightening)”. 

 But there is no gainsaying the fact that the stories of the conflict in Jos, the stories behind the story which I have tried to paraphrase above, are actually of no benefits anymore to the victims of the violent conflicts of last weekend. I refer to that day when the city of Jos suddenly became a theatre of war; a locale of the absurd- those inside could not get out; those outside could not get in. Yet they died. Innocent Nigerians, the young and the old, died. Those on their way to Bauchi State who thought of taking the Jos route unexpectedly found themselves at the centre of violence. They were killed simply because they resembled the Fulani; they were murdered simply because they were not or did not look like Muslims. Jos lost its beauty; it lost its innocence. Jos became worse than the wild; in the latter, animals kill not simply for killing; they kill in order to eat. In other words, in the animal kingdom, it is either you eat or you are eaten. However, in all theatres of war where humans kill one another, such killings function in debasing the killers, the murderers. Such killings never ennoble the perpetrators. Rather it shows how little they are.

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 Thus, we can only blame ourselves. Blame the failure in our culture that is resistant to modernity. We can only blame ourselves. Blame the failure in our spiritual outlook to life which usually finds expression in our posture to know more than the Almighty who created you to be you and me to be me. In other words, whenever the Muslim detests the sight of the non-Muslim, he is saying he is wiser than the Almighty who created the other; whenever the Christian abominates the other, he is saying the Almighty made a mistake when He granted the other the freewill to choose a path other than Christianity. 

Thus we have to blame ourselves for these ills. We have to pooh-pooh the absence of good governance in this country during the past decades during which the privileged few had cornered the commonwealth and roguishly appropriated the future of the nation unto themselves. Blame the media which glory in fanning embers of discord and violence. In other words, it is an irony of life that until the other dies, the undertaker would not have any meal on his table; unless there is tragedy, the media would not have ‘breaking news’ to disseminate.  

Blame the security apparatus which appears to be resistant to change particularly at a time when dissenting modernities constantly jungle and struggle to hold the nation down. Blame the religious leaders who have turned the places of worship to slaughter slab of the religious and ethnic other.   

 I thought it was high time hate speeches under the guise of religion were stopped in this country. I thought it was high time the government at the centre devised new and more ingenuous ways of dealing with the ethno-religious conflicts that have continued to threaten the existence of this nation. I thought it had become urgent and important that weapons of violence that were now available to all and sundry were mopped up from circulation. I thought it was urgent and important that lessons of peaceful coexistence were taught to the vast majority of the youth who have become hostages to culture of otherness and alterity in parts of the nation.  

I thought it has become urgent, that we all make restitutions for the evils that the impacts of these unconscionable killings would have on our nation. I shuddered when a video clip showing one scene in which innocent Nigerians have been killed was sent to me via Whatsapp. I was shocked when I beheld the level of bestiality that our youth have descended. It was instructive that not only have the critical mass of our population lost touch with the credo of life, I was afraid that the human soul has been deprived of its catholicity and sacred status no thanks to the ascension of ethno-religious passion. No nation spill the blood of the innocent as it is presently the case except that it is visited with great tribulations. May the Almighty grant us all His redemption and mercies. Amin. (Concluded)

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