Far beyond “Us vs Them” and other Plateau nasty drama




The misconception of ethnicity and religion has descended on Jos, the Plateau state capital, from the lofty height of Nigeria’s tourism city to a dreadful home of ‘red spills’.

Today, many Plateau communities are terribly faced with serious conflicts relating to ethnicity and religion over which the people have been wagging tongues.

Violent eruptions from ethnicity and religion have, overtime, posed grave dangers to the people of the state with commuters innocently paying the ultimate price of a conflict they know nothing about. The worse, they are only involved because of their ethnicity, religion or cultural orientation.

People of Plateau state have dissenting views with respect to ethnicity and religion so much so that they are grossly intolerant to their opposing beliefs and values such that Christian majority areas across strategic locations are being prohibited to adherents of Islam and vice-versa.

It will cost an earthquake for one to see, for example, members of the Hausa-Fulani Muslim majority supporting ideas emanating from the Birom tribal group whose overwhelming population are Christians. This is because the spirit of oneness and togetherness is hypocritically replaced with the desire to part ways.

Obviously, no single religious group is willing to sincerely embrace another in the state thereby making every minor disagreement capable of sparking palpable tension among the people.

As it stands, a number of places in the state are presently tagged as “No-Go Areas” which makes them domicile for certain category of people to access and prohibited for others; but the funniest are the ‘Neutral Grounds’ where, regardless of one’s faith, everybody is free to access for trade and other inevitable aspects of daily living.

The compounding level of hatred has led to some gruesome killings of many armless civilians and devastation of properties over the past few years which is due certainly to the erroneous understanding of religious ideals and misrepresentation of ethnic philosophies and values.

Plateau state is, for instance, far less diverse when compared to the Southern Nigerian states of Lagos or Port Harcourt where millions of Muslims, Christians, native, settlers and foreigners of different faiths and cultural backgrounds have been co-habiting peacefully.

Yet, Lagosians and Riverines have, notwithstanding their existing socio-cultural and religious disparities, chosen to live peacefully and never allow themselves to be polarised along ethnic or religious lines.

Momentarily, the two cities are more developed, greatly civilised, more integrated and far more convenient for living than Plateau, where in recent times, the people appear more determined for raging vengeance than they dialogue for peace.

Justifiably, conflict is contrary to the preachings of Islam and Christianity and very odd to the practice of any African tradition including Nigeria whose anthem ends with Peace and Unity.

It is high time, therefore, for all Plateau ‘Muslims and Christians, indigenes or settlers understood that ‘All of Us is better than None of Us’ so as to cease the merciless killings and destructions.

Thus, Plateau state authorities must do whatever it takes to restore the state’s fading glory of being ‘Home of Peace and Tourism’ while simultaneously make the people harness the diversity for the best of all.

Yusuf Mairiga Shekarau,
Kano
[email protected]

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