By Mohammad DonHussy
Tuesday was exactly 20 years since the breakdown of peace among communities and the beginning of the so-called ethno-religious conflict in Jos. Since then, thousands of innocent lives have been mercilessly killed, properties worth billions of naira destroyed, and hatred has been deeply entrenched, more than ever before, in the minds of the younger generation; vengeance has become a mantra on their lips. Thus, 7th September was a dreadful day that shouldn’t have repeated itself. But, unfortunately, it became the beginning of an era of chaos, conflicts and incessant killings.
Two things led to these horrible events. Firstly, religious leaders from both sides of the aisle did much to spawn the conflict either by abstaining from condemnation and reprimanding their audiences or fanning the flame with hate preachings. Secondly, and more morally reprehensible, politicians agreeably encourage the clash by not stepping up to quell the prerequisites that lead to the unrest. As a result, the conflicts have become a potent political weapon exploited by the elite to either consolidate power or amass luxury. Thus, the masses became pawns who reap the harmful consequences of the seed they never sow.
The crises have been heaped around many myths—that the conflict is an ethno-religious conflict is not only a hoax but an absurd claim that seeks to cast an illusion on the minds of the masses. Again, that Hausa-Fulanis have any grand plan to take over the helm of affairs in Plateau State is false. And, conversely, that the Christians are collectively responsible for the destruction of Jos Main Market, which plunged the Hausa’s into economic hardship, is equally false.
Few cabal members engineer these unfounded narratives to swerve the attention of the masses from demanding accountability from their incompetent leaders and have paved the way for kleptomaniacs and opportunists to reach up and embezzle our funds. To understand this better, reflect on what Samuel Ortom, the governor of Benue State, said, and I quote, “As Jesus died on the cross for Christians, I am prepared to die for Benue people.” The same person has now refused to pay civil servants their salaries and remain negligent on development and infrastructure. Scenarios similar to this are countless. By the way, Shari’a was once exploited by northern governors to mislead gullible Muslims. So it is more about vested political interests and amassing of wealth than faith or ethnicity.
Luckily, the panacea to this menace is within reach of the masses; all they need is the necessary introspection to grasp the problem for what it is: class warfare. And it’s also to resist the temptation of acquiescing in the vile tactics of divide and rule. If one scrutinises the conflicts, the masses, not elites, are constantly the victims of the mayhem. What sort of a people will be so adamant about inflicting such untold suffering to each other?
Does the killing of fellow humans strengthen anyone’s determination or make anyone’s life better? Why then the insanity and the insensitivity towards each other while those vultures are relentlessly sucking the masses and plundering the state’s treasury? The masses must understand that they share a common enemy, whether Christians or Muslims and that their enemies are within their respective faith or ethnic group. Regardless of any differences, the elite are hellbent on enriching themselves; neither their children nor closed ones participate directly in any conflict for whatever reason.
It is time for the masses to reflect on their actions, grasp reality and tolerate one other. The series of events that unfolded from the onset of the first crisis to today have caused indescribable suffering to the people of Plateau. It has slowed development and clogged prosperity. However, peace has no alternative, and tolerance is the only rational covenant.
Mohammad DonHussy writes from Jos. He can be reached via email@example.com.