Last week during the celebration of the International Day of Peace; and in its bid to strengthen the relative peace in the state, the Plateau Peace Building Agency traveled to a number of communities which included Abattoir/Dogon Karfe and Irigwe/Fulani of Bassa local government area to sign peace pact between them. That arrangement, to followers of the development in the state became a signpost of the things to expect in the quest of the Agency to sow the right peace seed in the various communities.
That arrangement in more ways than one brings to fore, the state’s desire and the Agency’s resolve to ensure that the road map to peace launched during the visit of President Muhammadu Buhari became a reality. The peace agency has studiously given so much to its realization; no matter any opinion to the contrary to its realization.
Whether it was the initiative of the communities or of the Agency to bring them to the table for the peace pact, it does not matter; what for us is central is in their desire to begin the new phase in the lives of their people. The Agency served as a midwife, and it properly coordinated the resolve.
Just when everyone had thought the signing of the pact was one of the processes towards engendering peace in communities, it is regrettable that in one of the communities, the hands of the clock have been drawn back. Apart from that, in Barkin Ladi local government area, the report of the loss of the lives of two security men and another man is in many respects a rude shock considering the efforts put into peace building in the communities that make the state.
The two police officers were ambushed according to the chairman of the local government area, Dickson Chollom last Saturday, September 21, 2019 at Ganandaji junction on the Bokkos road. Two gallant officers of the Nigerian Police Force and a civilian were gruesomely killed and other Police officer is presently receiving treatment at the Jos University Teaching Hospital (JUTH).
Even as we pray that the perpetrators of the dastardly act would be brought to account for it, the Chairman is of the view that the attack was deliberate by the evil ones with the aim of causing fear in the security agents who are there to ensure the protection of lives and properties.
What drew the ire of the people more is the attack on Hukke village of Miango District; barely two days after a peace pact had been entered into between the Irigwe and Fulani people resident in the community. The attack claimed the lives of Ladi Wuh 45, Laraba Audu 40 and 50 year old community leader, Elder Musa Yivu. They were buried on September 26, 2019. The spokesman for Miango Youth Development Association, Lawrence Zongo confirmed the killings in a statement issued in Jos on Monday.
The shock is palpable on the expressions of the community members over the fresh attack on the community by the gunmen. He pointedly told newsmen that the killers were Fulani herdsmen who came from Funture village of Bassa LGA to attack the people after a peace meeting.
“The attack was a surprise to us after we agreed to accept the peace process by the Plateau State peacebuilding agency last Saturday.We will continue to be peaceful and law-abiding but the government should be more responsible in protecting lives and properties in rural communities”, he said.
Painful as it came, we can only imagine how the security, people of the area and the staff of the Plateau Peace Building Agency felt at the development of the episode; just two days after the peace accord had been entered. Nothing can be sadder than a genuine effort blown away with the blood of the police men and the Hukke Three. That development, I am sure will not stop the efforts at the peace initiatives; this time around perhaps carried with the benefit of the hindsight.
For me, it is difficult to start writing on an event that one so much believes in its efficacy to bring back Plateau State from the edge of the precipice; but which positive aspects have been stunted. Even when every material is available, there is this feeling of despondency occasioned by the change of events.
Again I am at a loss as to what the Plateau Peace Building Agency’s response will be like, but I am sure they are able to appropriately offer explanation. Even before the attack, the agency had spoken in such a manner appealing strongly on the need for forgiveness. There is this consistency in their approach to ensuring peace is brought to every community in the state. What better enthusiasm could there be other than the fact that there are lessons to replicate from here to other states.
The recent peace commitment is not final solution to conflicts. The signing of the commitment to peace by the two groups is symbolic, as it is a process; it should not be seen as an event. “Peace building is not an event; peace building is a process, but one that needs to be nurtured, one that requires the buy-in of everybody, one that requires the trust and confidence of every party, one that requires sincerity of purpose.
“If there is no sincerity of purpose, then it becomes practically impossible for us to achieve our goals of building lasting peace and also attaining the goals of development in Irigwe land and across the state”.
It is on record that during the signing of the accord at Miango, youths and women groups were reported to have openly protested insisting that the agreement was not to be trusted. It is understood as Hon Sunday Abdu, President, Irigwe Development Association, was not optimistic, “We hope that this one (agreement) will not be like the others. Whoever does not like his fellow human being or kill is wicked”, adding that peace was an essential commodity for anybody who value’s another person’s life while on earth.Most previous attacks in the locality were reportedly preceded by similar peace meetings.
“There can never be peace without agreement, understanding and the willingness to work together,” he said at the event.Although there have been disagreements, there is hope for peace and reconciliation in Plateau State.
He said, “Yes, we have been touched by adversity, yes we have had our bad times, yes we have lost so much human and material, yes relationships have been broken, yes neighborhoods have been uprooted and communities have become segregated but yet we want to overcome, we want to triumph, we want to open a new chapter in our social relations’.
Indeed, the overall objectives of the symbolic event which was facilitated by the agency was to demonstrate their commitment and willingness in resolving all contentious issues of conflict between the two tribes with the view to promoting forgiveness and reconciliation with one another.
If as it is believed, the presence of peace in Irigwe land, could allow other areas to experience same in the state; if anything, and for the sake of those who have lost their lives, Irigwe and Fulani need to forgive, embrace and reconcile with one another.
“We hope that today’s choice of our meeting to celebrate the 2019 International Day of Peace is relevant and underscore the collective effort of the agency, traditional councils, Ardo’s, the media, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and all other interested stakeholders who are working assiduously to promote the ideal of peace in Irigwe land and Plateau State as a whole”.
Sector Commander, Sector 3Bassa LGA, Col. G.U Akpan advised both Irigwe and Fulani to embrace peace, saying “security is development while development is security”.
In their separate remarks, Brra Ngwe Rigwe, Rtd. Rev. Ronku Akah who was represented by the District Head of Miango, Chief Daniel Chega and the Fulani Ardo, Waziri Audu both expressed happiness and thanked the agency for the choice of their area for the part of the celebration of this year’s International Day of Peace, describing the event as very apt and timely to them.
All said and done, even with the contentious issues of attacks which have raged in the local government area, I am like many believe, there is going to be an end to these circles of attacks. Yet it should not be quickly lost in us that the job to establish peace in the communities comes with difficulties. While agreeing that the responsibility to security is governments’, all of us must be involved to drive the process of its establishment and sustenance.
The efforts of the peace agency must be sustained. The dialogue between the people that make the communities should be boosted. Above all, the security can redirect its energies at other methods that may have not been used before. We can win this war, together, only if we are united for this cause.