On Gov. Jang, the Federal Government and Jos Slaughter

One would have ordinarily considered the action taken by Gov. Jang of Plateau state against the Federal Government of Nigeria on its face value and condemn the Governor. As many other Nigerians, my first instinct was to question the rationality of the Governor’s decision in challenging the Federal Government in court over the constitution of a panel of inquiry on the latest Jos mayhem. But a careful consideration of the issues involved and a later reading of the interview granted to Sun Newspapers by Bishop Gbonigi which was published on the 30th of December 2008 in the same newspaper give food for thought before we condemn the Governor.

 

One would marvel at how the Federal Government reacted to the Jos crisis. The action of the wife of the President who visited Jos and refused to observe due protocols is as condemnable as it betrays that there was bias in her and perhaps her husband towards the governor. The wife of the President is not occupying a constitutional position and yet she was able to throw protocols to the wind. In a sane society, the Plateau state governor would order her arrest together with those of her entourage. What was her credential for engaging in such public display of lawlessness- wife of the President? While one does not begrudge her for her privileged position, she was expected to behave better in that circumstance. And the Army chief visited Jos again and ignored the state governor. Who in Gov. Jang’s position will be happy at such biased attitudes, insults and neglect of protocols? It showed they have no regard for Plateau people who elected Gov. Jang to govern them. Will it be bad if the state’s assembly declares them ‘persona no grata’ to their state?

 

It was clear that the Federal government and her agents have already taken sides on the Jos crisis. The interview by Bishop Gbonigi opened one’s eyes a little to the genesis of all these problems. I had always heard how the Hausas who are visitors to Jos had always wanted to ‘un-sit’ the Landlords. As someone who had visited Jos countless number of times in the past, I am not unaware of some skirmishes that used to take place among the Hausa tenants and the indigenes. But to read that the tenants wanted to turn the Landlords into ‘slaves’ was an action every sane human being would resist. One would think that ‘born to rule’ mentality has gone and gone for good. But what is happening in Jos shows the some Hausa people have not buried the mentality even if they pretend to have killed it. The good Bishop referred to the problem of the Hausa and Yoruba in Kwara state too but that is not the thematic preoccupation of this discourse.

 

The Governor is therefore right to invoke his constitutional powers if that is the case. Even if he cannot stop a federal panel of inquiry, he should be involved in constituting the panel to insure that people who are unbiased and whom the Federal Government has not ‘fed’ what to conclude are selected. The Governor will be right to insist that credible men who are honourable and known to be so in Nigeria constitute the Panel. For instance, people like Justice Kayode Eso, Justice Chukwudifu Oputa, Rev. Father Matthew Kukah, etc should head the panel whereas an honorable Muslim leader or faithful should be made the secretary. Why do I suggest this? Because religious bias has come into play and to make a Muslim the chairman of the panel will be most unacceptable to Plateau state indigenes who by the way are largely Christians. I am not unaware that the Chairman of the panel constituted by the President sounds like a Christian but how well is he known as a man of honour? He is a sole appointee of Mr. President. Gov. Jang is right to reject him and his panel. It is only a fool that will see the action of the Federal Government since this crisis and fold his hands to watch them play their script. I believe Gov. Jang is no such fool.

 

The Federal Government should be much unbiased in this matter. Whether it involves Muslims or Christians; Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba or Kanuri, we are all human beings created by God to live in peace. We are all Nigerians and the life of one is as important and precious as the lives of the others. The cold blooded massacre in Plateau state was appalling. It was as shameful as it was disturbing but an unbiased assessment is to be made on the crisis. One should consider the history of the crisis if a solution it to be attained. Unless a physician treats the root cause of an illness, it is likely to re-occur. We have to uproot this problem from the root. The Landlords has to be made to live amicably with the tenants but the tenants should realize that someone owns the land and not try to enslave him. If this is tolerated and not nipped in the bud, apartheid in South Africa or that of Southern Rhodesia (Today’s Zimbabwe) would be a mere joke to what people plan to do in Plateau state of Nigeria.

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