Good old Plateau is back now, by Emmanuel Onwubiko


JESUS said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,  because they will be called sons of God,”(Mathew 5:9)

Browsing through dozens of researches on Plateau State authored by mostly Western writers or even African writers working for Europe or US based academic faculties, a common denominator is the stereotype woven like a wool around a misconception that Plateau State remains a battle field between contending forces of darkness and the strong force of good. Plateau State is pictured as a huge ongoing theatre of war. But are these impressions factually accurate? As we will argue in this reflection, as much as the state has had a chequered history of ethno-religious battles due to the failure of security intelligence and compromised security architecture, there are clear indicators that the government of Plateau state as we write, has departed fundamentally from the immediate past and is engaged in massive peace-building efforts.

As i argued aforementioned, I actually spent over 3 hours running through a dozen of write-ups uploaded on the Web about Plateau State. What I found out is disheartening but nevertheless expected since bad news out of Africa is good news for most Western focused researchers.

All the same, because I’m aware that a different trajectory and developmental narrative has begun since the current governor Mr. Caleb Mutfwang came on board about a year ago, this intellectual undertaking is aimed at correcting some misconceptions and misperceptions using empirical data obtained from the field by this writer.

Before I continue to demonstrate my belief now that the good old days of Plateau state is back for good, I will give one citation from a foreign authored material concerning Plateau State in which the Western authors are still circulating the wrong stereotype that Plateau State remains the theatre of war of ethnicities and religious divides. And then I will also say a few words on what I mean by the good old Plateau State.  The piece I’m quoting is a 35 pages research work done for the African Studies department of the United Kingdom based King’s College Cambridge and the Centre of African studies, University of Cambridge,  UK by a research fellow identified as Adam Hagazi.

He wrote as follows: “Plateaus state is currently the main site of Ethnic and religious violence in Northern Nigeria. The past decade has seen recurrent crises across the state, in Urban and rural areas. Thousands of lives have been lost in these violent conflicts, there has been extensive damage to property,  and the development prospects of the state have been set back”.

“The violence has mainly been along religious lines, between Muslims and Christians,  but ethnicity also has a central role in the conflicts and there are considerable political interests at stake. Jos, the state capital and a major northern city with a population of some one million inhabitants, is the epicentre of much of the insecurity in Plateau State and has been the site of some of the worst of the violence. Episodes of of mass killings abd destruction have occured in Jos in 2001, 2002, 2008 and 2010. (On Devember 24 2023, over 200 Christian inhabitants of over 21 villagers who were preparing for Christmas,  were massacred by armed Fulani terrorists, I need to add this).

The author went further to debunk the belief that the conflicts are basically about land capturing activities by armed Fulani terrorists especially going by the persistent conflicts between the Berom ethnic natives of Plateau and Fulani pastoralists considered as visitors to Plateau State. The author said the conflicts are politically motivated and xenophobic. I beg to differ, because it is true that there is a sinister agenda of occupation of farming communities by foreign mercenaries hired by their affiliated in Nigeria masquerading as herdsmen of Fulani ethnicity. Ejiofor Alike, a senior Editor of Thusday recently wrote about the disturbing occupation of 151 villages by armed herders in Plateau State who are mostly foreign elements.  This issue of land grabbing is factually accurate and must be resolved lawfully to achieve lasting peace. Original natives must never be displaced from the God given landed assets.

The aforementioned report by the researcher for the UK University is actually a good effort at replicating the historicity of the conflicts on the Plateau,  except that he missed a major point which has to do with violent land-grabbing agendum of herders armed to their teeth.

The one other thing is that the author has another assignment to do so as  to look at the agenda of the present day government in Plateau State vis-a-vis the critical thematic area of peace building and efforts at multiculturalism and then do an update to assess if Plateau State government is doing a good job or not.

Well, as a former student of the Nigerian Institute of Journalism, Jos Campus and a former journalist of the Plateau state’s funded The Nigerian Standard Newspaper, I must state that the government today in Plateau state is singing a new song that takes us back to the good old days when we all coexisted in Jos as Same citizens of one Country not minding our differences in ethnicity and religious persuasions.

Just before the 90s, Plateau was a miniature Nigeria because every ethnic nationalities lived there and identified Jos as a home. But as the author we quoted above stated, poisonous and toxic politics came and destroyed the once peaceful home. In the late 80s, it was difficult to tell who is Igbo or who is Fulani, Birom, Pankshin, Langtang. There were no attempts to segregate between the real natives who are well known and are indigenous ethnicities and their visitors. In the good old days, all strangers: Fulani, Hausas, Igbos, Yorubas etc, were welcomed by the natives and we all felt at home in Jos and there were no squabbles to take away the heritage of the natives by foreign settlers.

We all lived peaceably not until the political serpent planted divisions and then distributed the fruits of divisions amongst the once united people to begin to fight over nothing. One time military dictator who styled himself as military president was mentioned allegedly as one of the reasons for the conflicts but he persistently denied these groundswell of allegations. But there is hope that the good old days are back.

The good old Plateau State is almost back going by the aggressive pursuit of peace building by the current administration in Plateau state. Plateau State is one of the very few states to set up a peace building agency domiciled right within the office of the governor. 

What this says about the present day Plateau State governor who is reforming the agency to carry out its pure mandate, is that he is hugely a man of peace. One of his earliest pledges which he has begun to implement,  centred around peace building and multiculturalism. His Special Adviser on Strategic Communication Mr. Timothy Golu said as much which we will soon quote in this piece. Suffice it to hear directly from the mouth of the governor.

Hear him: “As the Governor of Plateau State, I had the immense honor of leading our residents in a thanksgiving service to mark the completion of my first year in office. Held at the Rwamg Pam Stadium in Jos on Sunday, the event was a beautiful convergence of gratitude and unity, as citizens came together to celebrate this milestone through an interdenominational service.

Alongside my wife, Barr. Helen Mutfwang, I expressed my profound gratitude for God’s guidance over the past year and reaffirmed our commitment to fostering unity and prosperity across Plateau State.

Reflecting on the year gone by, I acknowledge the divine intervention and the unwavering support of Plateau’s citizens, which have been crucial to our achievements. I pledge to continue uniting our people, alleviating poverty, and advancing the prosperity of our state.

In the coming years, we will undertake initiatives to improve our lives, ensuring that our youths are guided away from vices and towards achieving their destinies. We are committed to supporting our women, empowering them to become the exemplary mothers we aspire to see in our state.

Regarding insecurity, I assure you that we are tirelessly seeking ways to enhance our security measures. We will not rest until every inch of land belonging to the people of Plateau is secure. By the grace of God, this will be achieved.

We trust that this year, we will engage in more fruitful farming activities than last year, and that God will bless us with abundance and prosperity. While security challenges may distract us, our primary adversary is poverty. Our efforts is to lift Plateau from poverty, as God has not destined us to live in hardship. He has endowed us with bountiful blessings and an unmatched climate in this nation, and we trust that the days of our favor are upon us.

The Plateau State Government has also assured the citizens that it is focused on ensuring genuine peace in the state rather than a political contraption that would pass for a peace process.

The special adviser to Plateau State governor on Strategic Communication, Hon Timothy Golu, stated this recently when he paid a courtesy visit to LEADERSHIP Group  Headquarters in Abuja. Golu was a former editor in Leadership newspaper before going on to win back to back legislative seats at the Plateau State House of Assembly and the Federal House of Representatives.  In other words, Golu is versatile in the politics of Plateau and his words are authoritative. 

He said Governor Caleb Mutfwang has placed genuine peace at the forefront of his agenda because seeking political peace for self-preservation will not serve the people.

He added that the governor has resuscitated the Peace Agency for effective engagements and that he is set to reconstitute the state interreligious council to make it suitable enough for efficiency.

The former federal lawmaker said the governor has demonstrated awareness of prevalent communal issues by initiating development projects in areas of different faiths.

“In response to agricultural challenges exacerbated by insecurity, we’ve allocated 900 hectares across four local governments under strict security for farming, recognising the need to think creatively and ensure people’s safety to encourage agricultural activity.

“Our state media landscape is rife with gaps and misrepresentation. Whether negative or positive, the narratives about Plateau often fall short of truth. It’s time to bridge this divide, to communicate transparently and authentically.

“We reject the notion of propaganda, opting instead for a genuine, positive approach to communication. By dispelling speculations and unfounded stories, we aim to foster understanding and unity within our community.

“Despite lingering security challenges, progress is palpable. Through strategic measures, we’ve seen a significant decrease in insecurity incidents over the past few months. Our focus remains on achieving lasting peace, not just political stability.

“We’re committed to inclusive development, transcending religious divides to uplift all communities. Initiatives like agricultural support demonstrate our resolve to tackle challenges creatively and pragmatically.

“We aim to innovate and instill fresh optimism by breaking away from the past. Our goal is to foster a sense of belonging for everyone.

“Numerous initiatives have been implemented, with a focus on ensuring enduring peace rather than fleeting political agreements.”

He however noted that the governor has resolved to revive the Inter-Religious Council in the state which was established by the previous administration.

He said the peace agency, since its inception, has not lived up to its expectation of active engagement in peace-building efforts because it was populated by politicians.

Golu said the Mutfwang-led administration is resolved to breathe new life into this organisation in order to ensure effective peace-building endeavors.

Few days back, I visited Jos to see things for myself and from my random interviews with residents of Jos, and Bukuru in Plateau  State, I may not be wrong to affirm that the good old days have arrived right back in Plateau State with the current peace-building and peace friendly governor. 

During my stay for 4 days which wasn’t made known to most of my friends, one of my friends and a colleague in the media profession, Comrade Chris Gyang sent me a copy of an editorial of The Nigerian Standard Newspaper which talked about some verifiable milestones of the Plateau State governor and I must say that from my interactions with people of different faiths and political persuasions residing in Jos and Bukuru,  the issues raised in that editorial of the Plateau state’s iconic newspaper: The Nigerian Standard is factually accurate. I spoke with many of my Igbo brethren and also engaged many Fulanis who were my contemporaries when we grew up in Kafanchan, a near-by town to Plateau State. These persons accepted that the good old days of Plateau is back.

Well, back to the editorial, I came out with the informed position that the governor of Plateau State has launched the Tin City Metro Urban Transportation Initiative, a unique system of massively moving commuters at very subsidized rates within the areas of the Greater Jos Master Plan.

It has in its fleet 15 state-of-the-art MAN-Diesel buses fully equipped with latest equipment such as Near Field Communication (NFC) and secure card payment systems.

No doubt, coming at this critical point in time when Nigerians are groaning under the heavy strain of astronomically high transportation costs, these buses could not have come at a more auspicious period.

Furthermore, and as the governor himself pointed out, “We are ushering in an era of digitized travel, aligning with the global shift towards cashless transactions for the convenience of our passengers.”

The state government unveiled 20 ultra-modern 8-seater Seinna buses that are now plying intra-state and national routes. The Plateau Riders Bus Services, which had almost gone under in the last eight years, has now been given a new lease of life.

Right from the day he personally supervised the state-wide environmental sanitation exercise (one of his first assignments after assuming office), Governor Mutfwang has left no one in doubt about his avowed commitment towards radically bringing sanity to the state’s erstwhile dirty physical environment.

Jos Terminus, Ahmadu Bello Way, Rwang Pam Street and other nooks and crannies of Jos and Bukuru metropolis are beaming with a splash of well-tarred roads, complete with wide shoulders and drainages.

It is with this same determination and zeal that the governor is confronting the problem of transportation in the state. As a man who deeply believes in the wholistic development of society, he is well aware that abandoning one sector in preference for another would never give room for all-pervasive and sustainable progress.

Thus, roads construction, building terminals for the new buses, regulating street trading, beautifying the city, etc, are all being carried out at the same time so that they can have a more enduring and impactful effect.

Some of these radical transformations on the landscape of the state capital and environs have come at a heavy price to many citizens. There have been obvious pushbacks here and there.

Let me conclude by encouraging the governor and the good people of Plateau State to continue to work on peace building efforts so our good old Plateau State that used to be the most attractive tourism sites, can be re-established so people from all parts of the World can once more visit Plateau State on vacations. The hospitality of the natives should also not be taken for granted for sustainable peace to be mainstreamed.


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