Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My heart goes out to the Innocent in "J" Town!

Woke up to learn about the fresh violence in Jos, only a few weeks after boiling over. It had me thinking of this endless nightmare and how it all started, why our leaders are clueless as to how to solve it, the far reaching implications and what may help to solve it.

Nigeria's religious crisis go way back in history... not remotely connected to the earliset clash that was a result of a failed coup 'detar by the military in 1966 - ultimately leading to civil unrest and eventually civil war. If like me, you are old enough to remember or an ardent follower of history, you may have heard of Zango-Kataf crisis. in Kaduna State. Maitama, etc.

Over the years, a forward-looking, well meaning society would have learned the lessons and forged a path that should ensure that such conflicts remain what they are - History. None-the-less, we have watched as countless number of innocent lives are wasted on a daily basis all over the nation, while our so called government, like their endless battle(s) with corruption - pay lip-service to the violence. Ostensibly, these crisis all seem to be either religious or politically motivated, however, there seem to be a more elusive phenomenon at play. No doubt, the political elite in their bid to whip-up sentiments, and geaner votes, have played their regular "trump card" - religion. As Carl Max said, "religion is the opium of the masses" - Spurred on in their drunken stupor - Christian and Muslim alike, have drenched their lions with the blood of their neighbors, soiled the once tranquil city state with their bloody hands and unleashed a reign of terror on Jos. What remains to be seen is why the authorities have fail time and time again to curb the re-occurrence.

In order to elicit an enduring solution , I have attempted to trace the history of Plateau religious crisis -
  • September 7, 2001 - religious riots in Jos resulted in more than four years of bloodshed, killing thousands of people and displacing thousands of others.
  • In 2004 an estimated 700 people died in Yelwa, Plateau state.
  • November 27, 2008 - Religious crisis erupts, 40 churches razed down as angry Muslim youths who suspected election fraud, attacked Christians and their properties.
  • November 28th and 29th 2008, Reprisal attacks leaves 500 dead people in its wake (100 Christians killed by the mod, and 400 Muslims killed by police before the riot was quelled),
  • July 17, 2010 - Mazah (only nine miles from Jos)
  • July 21 2010 - Dutse Uku and Nasarawa Gwom reprisal attacks by Christians. in 30mins alone over 300 were dead
  • December 2010 -
The nightmare rages even as I write - Local rights groups say over 1,500 people have died in inter-communal violence in the Plateau since the start of this year alone. Yet not much has been done to prosecute the extremist on both sides. Who are these extremists?

I talked to some Plateau natives with a view to understand what the problem is, where it is coming from? Who is the aggressor? and perhaps propose a lasting solution different from what we have tried until now.

In the final analysis, my comparison left me with mixed feelings. Everyone I talked to tended to say the same thing - regardless of their political or religious affiliation - Firstly, they both see the others as the aggressor (we and them mindset) regardless of facts before hand. They were both very angry and both consider this crisis as war - Even a very senior colleague of mine (*** ******* - name withheld), was so furious that he swore that he would kill a Christian if he had the opportunity... made me wonder when this crisis will end, if such a "seemingly" enlightened, responsible, educated man with a family and a good job would stick his neck that far to mutter such an evil thing. But no matter on which side of the divide you stand, so much pent up hate and anger has eaten up the masses that they appear to be ready to kill for what they believe.

Secondly, they all contend that the problem is the Soldiers deployed to keep the peace. The Nigerian army may have fared well in several international peace keeping assignments, but their reputation at home is full of "sorrow, tears and blood! - their regular trade mark!!". (see my article titled "Do you know where your neighbor is?" from 2010). It would appear to me that they would prefer a battle to the finish" than to have any force mediating between them. The Christians contend that the Muslims always attack first, and the soldiers prevent the Christians from retaliating, unwittingly giving the Muslims the upper hand. So it is no surprise that Christians want the soldiers to be withdrawn. The Christians like Bishop Kwashi say “We are the victims of any Islamic anger... years ago, it was the Danish cartoons. Now they are trying to lay it at the feet of the elections. We have become a convenient scapegoat and target for those with grievances about events both home and abroad.” alluding to the already popular fad that there exist a silent Jihadist campaign to take the nation (the earth) at all cost. Religious motivated crisis all over the nation are only proof of that campaign. Bishop Kwashi implored international media, he made the plea: “Please, if you have evidence of anywhere where Chris­tians have sparked off a riot or done anything wrong, please be honest in telling it. But if not, stand up for justice … “We want the support of the Church worldwide to understand that we have never initiated crimes against the Muslim people.” To my mind, though their claim sounds like good logic, what is not very evident is the fact behind the crisis - the embers that fuels the Jos fires - Politics.

In a democracy, in a so called federated Nigeria, a few people - minority, yet who are indegenes want to lord it over a majority Hausa Fulani who form the majority in a local government. This conundrum, to many a no brainer, but to many others, neither here nor there. I will explain...

..................... To Be Continued ........................


  1. Now readin through your blog, I would like for you to interview Jos natives again and you would learn that the crisis is not religious or even political per se (though it won't be out of place to say the politicians have hijacked it).
    The crisis is ethnic.
    How did it all start. My studies trace it to about 20o years ago.
    Nigeria was not even an independent nation then