President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday urged all parties in the intractable conflict that engulfed Plateau state recently to sheathe their swords and let peace reign in the interest of all.
President Buhari made the call in Jos, Plateau state at a dialogue forum organized by the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council (NIREC) in conjunction with the Federal government and the country’s governors to discuss how to resolve the Jos crises and show concern over the unfortunate events that occurred in parts of the Plateau recently..
Stakeholders at the gathering also interfaced on peace on the Plateau and how to forge ahead by deepening peace building process taking cognizance of what has been happening in the past.
Represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Boss Gida Mustapha, the President while conveying his heartfelt condolence to the state government, the victims and their families, pledges to mobilize all resources to bring the perpetrators to book.
According to him, the current security situation in the entire country calls for constant dialogue and the strategy for overcoming such problems should be all inclusive.
He admonished NIREC, community leaders and religious leaders to sustain their current intervention as government alone cannot succeed in the fight against crimes and criminalities without the cooperation of the people.
Stating that the “task of this meeting is to build upon what has been raised in order to halt the circle of violence,” in the state and beyond, President Buhari said the federal government will continue to collaborate at all levels to ensure that peace returns to the Plateau and other parts of the country, further assuring that: “peace must return to the Plateau. That is our prayer.”
The co-Chairman of NIREC, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar who narrated that he was at the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies in Kuru, Jos when he became a monarch, expressed gratitude to the Federal government and the incumbent Governor of Plateau for keeping the peace.
He affirmed his belief that the Governor should be encouraged to do more, indicating that the meeting was not a jamboree but a concerted effort to make the state remain as part of the nation.
“Plateau people should know they’re part of Nigeria. The whole country is here to talk to ourselves about how this came about. While the two religions enjoin brotherly love, why have politicians divided the people? Is killing people a religious revelation by God?, the Sultan asked, posing that: “If the evil being perpetrated isn’t nipped in the bud it will further escalate.”
The monarch, who is also the Chairman of the Nigeria Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA), also encouraged Gov. Lalong to continue with the good work he is doing, stressing that “unless government wakes up, these crises won’t end.”
“It hurts when we hear things being said on the pulpits-either as Christians or Muslims; and we allow it. We’re in a very bad situation but we have hope. Only Nigerians can stabilize the country not anyone from abroad, the Sultan emphasized, further stressing that the earlier the government address the many problematic issues bedeviling the country, including the resolution of the industrial action by the National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD) and other negative things, the better for all.
He urged politicians to close ranks and put politics in the background until electioneering campaign begins; and tasked Nigerians to have patience. “We cannot continue killing one another in the name of religion or ethnicity,” he submitted.
Corroborating the Sultan, himself also a co-Chairman of NIREC, Olasupo Ayokunle, said those involved in the killings on the Plateau are Muslims and Christians, to whom he appealed that they should allow dialogue to prevail, failing which the government should come in.
“Nobody has the monopoly of violence. If you get advantage today don’t assume same it will be the situation tomorrow. God is love because he gives man free will and the opportunity to live. To know God, you must love your neighbor,” he said, asking Nigerians and the law enforcement agents to ensure that peace reigns.
He also said for peace to become a reality justice should not be delayed and efforts should be made by the federal government to ensure that modern technology is deployed in fighting against the unfolding criminality, which is itself sophisticated in nature.
“Government should react to the plight of victims of conflicts. The people of Plateau who have witnessed the mayhems for so long should speak out with love about the causes- remote and immediate,” he advised, observing that Nigeria can’t develop with shameful and embarrassing conflicts ravaging it.
The Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) Chairman, Kayode Fayemi who led his counterparts from Sokoto and Niger states to the meeting said they were in Jos to physically demonstrate concern of the governors to the government and people of the state.
“We’re experiencing challenging times. But we can draw lessons from the adversities. Plateau has learnt a lot.
“The work of the state PEACE COMMISSION has been remarkable. The government of Plateau should not be distracted from the pursuit of peace and good governance,” he said.
He said the Forum have irrefutable values intended to strengthen the unity of the country. “Whatever stands in the way should be addressed. As residents you know that Jos is a globe that binds as many Nigerians have lived here for over a century,” he explained.
Applauding Gov. Lalong for doing his best to keep the peace and bond between Nigerians, he said his colleagues, the governors, will not fail in associating fully with community and religious leaders who have shown commitment in difficult times.
In his remarks, Gov. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto state, noted that all the Nigerian governors are worried about the latest ugly trend of violence in the Plateau.
He recalled that in March 2017 his entire cabinet,
along with the Sultan and other prominent citizens of the state, came to Plateau for a retreat. “This was to demonstrate to the world that peace has returned to the Plateau back then. It was to prove to the world that Sokoto people, like other Nigerians, were at home in Plateau.
“We must continue to live together as brothers and sisters. None of the two major religions encourages killing. Why are we pretending to be killing in the name of religion or ethnicity?,” he indicated.
“Why can’t we follow the trajectory of what gives us peace? Nobody will come to Nigeria to invest when there’s no peace. It is in our collective interests to live in peace. Security agents can’t help if we are not working together, he said while appealing to Nigerians to embrace the real teachings of our religions.
Pointing out that the monumental loses occasioned by conflicts over the years have shown that violence is counter-productive, Gov. Tambuwal, who is also the Chairman of the People’s Democratic Party- Governors’ Forum (PDP-GF) admonished religious leaders to step up their efforts in this regard.
Gov. Abubakar Sani Bello of Niger state, who recalled with nostalgia his fond memories of Jos, which we use to know was a peaceful place, “with warm and friendly people…like London,” have suddenly changed over the years.
“It is saddening that all that have changed. There is no need for religious animosity because we are all who we are in terms of religion by accident of birth. What should matter now is that characters must blend for people to live together. Plateau is an economically viable state with a large tourism potentials.
Gov. Bello, who is also the Chairman of the North Central Governors Forum, observed that if not for the orgies of violence being expressed across the country, “by now we should be way ahead of where we are at the moment. We should continue to talk about peace and avoid conflicts.”