The Plateau Walk for Peace organized by the Plateau Peace Building Agency on Tuesday, September 17, 2019, was in the main symbolic of the peoples’ desire for peace to be entrenched in the various communities. KATDAPBA Y. GOBUM, who was part of the walk, shares the frills and thrills of the initiative from the Secretariat Junction to the Garden of Peace near the OLA Hospital, Jos.
If there was a prize for planning and organization for success, the Plateau Peace Building Agency would stand up to be counted. Indeed, it should be on account of what it gave Nigeria through the International World Peace Day initiative. There have been several of such efforts in the past; this year’s was a lesson for all; particularly in our march to entrench peace in our communities.
Truth be told, the mobilization of the security, traditional rulers, bikers, students, , youth groups, physically challenged, tribal groups, children from orphanages, politicians of all persuasions, NUJ, Vigilante Group of Nigeria, CAN, JNI, community leaders, civil society organizations, Media Peace Ambassadors, market men and women, Boys Brigade, Yan Agaji, Girls Guide and Tricycle Riders Union of Nigeria. The list is inexhaustible. None was left in the walk, except if they chose not to come, but it was difficult for anyone to ignore the call for the walk.
It is little wonder that each of the representatives of these organizations and indeed individuals had a word for the people of the state. It was terse and simple; no circumlocution from anyone of them: It pays to be alive and to live in peace.
As the participants waited for the commencement of the Walk for Peace at the Secretariat Junction, Jos, it was apparent that the enthusiasm associated with an effort such as this was not just in the band and Boys’ Brigade at hand that provided music all through the journey. It was not even lost in the fact that all participants of the groups interacted freely through dance and speech.
Nonetheless, if the music was not provided, it would have been difficult to get all the eager and near tired legs to the Forgiveness Garden dancing. What more of the persons with disabilities such as Abdullahi Rocky Boy and many more in his category that had just skating wheels to ride through the walk displaying in their stunts without being tired? If the band didn’t inspire them, Jerry Jinang’s danceable Wakan Plateau and other popular Nigerian tunes wasn’t bad an idea to have participated.
It wasn’t either in the nature of the security that participated in the walk. While both land and air were fully secured, the men and officers that accompanied the OPSH Commander, Major General Augustine C Agunduwere appreciated by the participants for their efforts at securing the communities of the state.
Later people would ask to know why the presence of the helicopter that hovered in the sky while the event lasted. Such has been the nature of how people imagine that the presence of several security men and or even their equipment is an indication that the town is not safe.
If they ask, it is because, they may have been beaten once; they need to be twice shy. On this note therefore, the presence of the OPSH Special Squad initially sent a wrong signal, not until it was apparent that the procession was for the peace of Plateau State and in the interest of all. That apprehension settled, those who came knew that everything onward was for peace.
Even though the programmes’ compere, Julius Awa, MC James Tsok and Emmanuel Pam Dung MC 2.5; may have jokingly said a number of things about the initiative at each point of the walk, no one was in doubt of the fact that the security is every body’s business.
As the procession progressed, the neighbourhoods came out. They danced, clapped and waved. They were amazed at the persons involved and the genre of music that went with the procession. Most chose to dig to the tunes that were played depending on the persuasion and what they like. No wonder, an elated Joseph Lengman, would at each point whisper to this Reporter: That is the statement we want to make in the hearts of the people, that we can live in peace with one another.
For those who have had the opportunity to have seen the events lined up by the Plateau Peace Building Agency (PPBA) since September 10, 2019, one thing stood out: Not one section was excluded in the event; after all, you cannot today name one community that may not have felt the pains of what the state went through during the period of the crises.
Before it started, groups of persons could be seen discussing the initiative on an enthusiastic note. One participant you would have thought should have been home that early morning is Nde John Gobak, former Secretary to Government of the State. He agrees like Chairman, Plateau State Council, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Paul Jatau and Salis Muhammad Abdulsalam of the Face of Peace Pageant/Displaced Women and Children Foundation were of the view that Plateau long missed the road, but would be appreciated if we returned to the old ways.
Many subscribe to this thought; and that is why the call to come out and celebrate peace meant a lot more for all those who participated in the peace walk. The messages by different individuals were instructively symptomatic of the degree of acceptance of the efforts of the Plateau Peace Building Agency in recalibrating the need and the state’s desire for peaceful coexistence.
Therefore those who spoke at the event left no one in doubt of the fact that all are desirous of a peaceful state, except those that have continued to benefit from the blood that has been spilled in the state. The Commander, OPSH Major General Augustine Agundu told participants if the citizens of Plateau want development they must eschew all forms of violence in their various communities.
Major General, Agundu who made a strong presence with men and officers of OPSH expressed happiness with the large turnout of the people for the road walk, adding that for him and many more, the event marked the climax of the total restoration of peace on the Plateau. What better position could this be, coming from the head of the security that has been involved in the fight to bring peace to the state?
Like most people today, he appreciated the effort of the Joseph Lengman-led peace agency for always preaching peace to all and sundry and urged all those that attended the walk to take the message of peace to others. Reiterating further, the Commander said that the OPSH would continue to do everything possible to ensure that the relative peace being enjoyed in the state was sustained.
He should know better, having been involved in the business of maintaining peace, he said violence does not do anyone good, hence the greater need for people to imbibe the culture of forgiveness at all times.
An elated Director General, Plateau Peace Building Agency, Mr. Joseph Lengmang couldn’t hide his joy at the response the agency got to honour the invitation sent out. He said the agency thought it wise to bring all the stakeholders together during the road walk as part of its programme to celebrate this year’s International Peace Day.
For him, the large turnout of the people was a clear demonstration of their commitment towards promoting peace and urged the people of the state to put aside religious, tribal and political differences, in order to work for peace unity of the state. Apart from that, it was the agency’s way of ensuring that the event was targeted towards bringing the agenda of forgiveness, unity and healing, noting that the state has been wounded in the past, adding that there can never be peace without unity of purpose.
At the Palace of the GbongGwom Jos, His Royal Majesty, Da Jacob GyangBuba was on hand to receive the teeming crowd of participants. For Da GyangBuba the initiative means a lot to him and the people of the state, as it was a statement that further demonstrated their love for peace in the state.
As has been characteristic of Da Jacob Buba anytime the occasion presents itself, he spoke to the youths cautioning against drug abuse, which has reached an alarming level in the Northern part of Nigeria and advised them to stop destroying their future.
That settled, the procession headed for the Forgiveness Garden, where a number of speakers again reiterated on the fact that time has come to genuinely forgive one another and insisted that peace has no replacement. The walk for peace on the Plateau cannot be more meaningful than the statement it offered to the world.