Plateau: That last­ing peace may reign

Sunday Trust - - VIEWPOINT - By Saleh Ashaka Ashaka, a pub­lic com­men­ta­tor on na­tional is­sues wrote from Abuja

What hap­pened in Plateau State re­cently, which has for some time been ex­pe­ri­enc­ing peace and calm is quite un­for­tu­nate.

The sud­den killings by yet to be iden­ti­fied per­sons, the wave of ap­pre­hen­sion and ten­sion that fol­lowed, the dis­cov­ery of the car be­long­ing to a re­tired gen­eral at a pond and the re­sul­tant up­roar that en­sued have all com­bined to threaten the peace be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced in the state.

In the past few weeks, there have been re­ports of threats to vi­o­lence and ac­tual in­ci­dents of vi­o­lence that ran­kles the sen­si­bil­i­ties of any peace lov­ing per­son.

It is nat­u­ral for peo­ple to flare up af­ter at­tacks on per­sons close to them but the greater good of the so­ci­ety should be para­mount in the ac­tions we take.

As we sym­pa­thize with the vic­tims and re­la­tions of those who have lost loved ones, it is im­por­tant to note that the trad­ing of ac­cu­sa­tions and re­crim­i­na­tions go­ing on should be done with res­traint in or­der not to ex­ac­er­bate an al­ready bad sit­u­a­tion.

The au­thor­i­ties and the se­cu­rity agen­cies vested with the pow­ers to carry out in­ves­ti­ga­tions should be al­lowed to do their work while the pen­chant for hate mon­ger­ing, name call­ing and the pro­fil­ing of an en­tire race should stop.

An en­tire eth­nic group should not be pro­filed based on sus­pi­cion and the driv­ing force for the at­tain­ment of peace should be jus­tice and fair­ness.

The peo­ple liv­ing in Jos and other towns in Plateau did not just come, they have been liv­ing to­gether and do­ing busi­ness with one an­other for ages; a sud­den burst of chal­lenge should not dis­tort the tem­plate for peace­ful co­ex­is­tence, but should serve as a les­son to all sides to learn how to ac­com­mo­date the fail­ings and ex­cesses of one an­other.

The Plateau cri­sis which started in 2001 has had a way of re­cy­cling it­self in­ter­mit­tently along the way, to an ex­tent that it be­came al­most pre­dictable within a given pe­riod.

This has been so be­cause the lessons learnt from the pre­vi­ous crises have not been uti­lized and be­cause the sen­ti­ments that per­vaded pre­vi­ous episodes are be­ing nur­tured and al­lowed to as­sume larger than life pro­por­tions in our psy­che; this is most un­for­tu­nate.

The peo­ple of Rwanda have had a bit­ter eth­nic war but be­cause they uti­lized the lessons they learnt dur­ing the car­nage, they have been able to evolve a bet­ter so­ci­ety from the ashes of the for­mer one both in terms of in­fra­struc­ture and in nu­tur­ing the psy­che of their peo­ple.

You may wish to con­trast that with So­ma­lia which though be­ing an eth­nic and re­li­gious ho­moge­nous coun­try is yet to re­cover from what started as a mere po­lit­i­cal up­heaval for over two decades.

The two ex­am­ples should guide our process of com­mu­nal liv­ing. We ei­ther choose to be pos­i­tive about our past like Rwanda or choose to dwell in our ugly past like So­ma­lia.

I think ev­ery pos­i­tive minded per­son should choose the for­mer and I think to a great ex­tent that is the re­solve of the ma­jor­ity of the peo­ple in the state.

Ev­ery so­ci­ety has its chal­lenges, it is the ap­proach to­wards re­solv­ing them that de­ter­mines whether there would be last­ing peace or not. Even within closely knit­ted fam­i­lies, there are chal­lenges.

The his­tory of Plateau has shown that the num­ber of years it had been en­gulfed in cri­sis is quite in­fin­i­tes­i­mal to the num­ber of years peace has reigned.

What this means is that the re­solve to let peace reign supreme is higher than the re­sort to vi­o­lence and blood­let­ting that is why af­ter ev­ery cri­sis, peo­ple ob­serve more res­traint to acts that are con­sid­ered provoca­tive and show more tol­er­ance to dif­fer­ences.

This is what should be at the back of the minds of the peo­ple such that in­stead of get­ting sober af­ter the harm had been done, it is bet­ter to get sober be­fore a sin­gle drop of blood is shed.

Af­ter ev­ery war, peo­ple come to the round ta­ble to re­solve the is­sues. But if the round ta­ble op­tion had been ex­plored in the first place, so many deaths and de­struc­tion would have been avoided.

Plateau will not achieve great­ness by be­ing in the news for the wrong rea­sons, it can only achieve great­ness through con­certed ef­forts at be­ing the trail blazer in in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment, en­ter­prise and cre­at­ing a de­cent en­vi­ron­ment for its peo­ple to de­velop their po­ten­tials and at­tain their God given des­tinies.

Af­ter ev­ery war, peo­ple come to the round ta­ble to re­solve the is­sues. But if the round ta­ble op­tion had been ex­plored in the first place, so many deaths and de­struc­tion would have been avoided. Plateau will not achieve great­ness by be­ing in the news for the wrong rea­sons, it can only achieve great­ness through con­certed ef­forts at be­ing the trail blazer in in­fras­truc­tural de­vel­op­ment

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