By Mpaka Numbere
Peace is a phenomenon that arguably no human can stay without. It remains a fact that no meaningful development can take place in an atmosphere of rancour. According to the Webster dictionary, peace is “a state of tranquillity or quiet: such as freedom from civil disturbance, a state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom.”
Governors are known to be the chief security officers of their state and accordingly saddled with the responsibility of providing safety and security of lives and properties to denizens of such states they govern.
Plateau state has overtime pride itself as the home of Peace and Tourism, a slogan born out of a combination of serene environment, exquisite tourist destinations, hospitable people and a tranquil surrounding.
However, there has been a challenge to this hitherto beautiful destination whose arms has been wide open to people of different tribe, religion and race. It is no news that Plateau state has been plagued with violent attacks for a while making every administration on the Plateau since the return of democracy in 1999 facing one level of crisis situation or the other.
Governor Simon Bako Lalong in the early years after assuming office in 2015, religiously concentrated on putting an end to the ugly trend of violent attacks and crisis, his desire to bring a lasting solution to the discord within communities in some Local Government Areas of Plateau state led to the establishment of the Plateau State Peace Building Agency.
It is obvious that Gov. Lalong believes in finding lasting solution to the ugly trend of attacks and subsequent reprisals hitherto experienced in those communities hence his decision to build institutions that will address the root causes of these attacks and to concentrate on peace building. The Agency has since become an institutional framework focusing on responding to the challenges of peace and security in the state, pursuing its mandate to promote the culture of peace and harmonious coexistence among the various ethnoreligious divides on the Plateau with absolute dedication, the agency has continually operated through partnerships with state and non-state actors by coordinating conflict resolution and peace building interventions of stakeholders who work in and around the issues of Peace Building and conflict prevention.
Governor Lalong who is known to have vowed to be remembered always as a man who worked for Peace deeply roots his conviction on the fact that “There is absolutely no complacency when it comes to Peace and he believe strongly that it is within our power as a people to achieve the promise of sustainable Peace on the Plateau”.
There is no doubt that strong institutions are needed to respond to any challenge, thus following the renewed hostility and violent attacks in some communities in Barkin Ladi, Riyom and Bassa the Peace Building Agency through its leadership organized a three-day conference to address contemporary issues towards bringing a long term solution to the ugly incident.
Speaking in their different capacities at the opening of the conference, Traditional rulers in support of the governor’s effort to return a lasting peace to the troubled areas confirmed that Gov. Lalong has constituted committees to safeguard the return and resettlement of displaced persons and to provide succour for the displaced, while the Gbong Gwom Jos Da Buba Gyang emphasized the need for religious and community leaders to support government in fostering peace within the communities, his counterpart the Long Gomai Miskoom Shaldas stressed the need for security to be localized.
A university don and a former Vice Chancellor of the University of Jos Prof. Manzwat also gave an exposé to the fact that the conflicts and attacks in Gashish is dated back to 1967, however, he said sadly the lack of historical records has robbed the right knowledge in addressing the challenges objectively.
The conference whose participation constituted stakeholders and crisis victims at the end of the three days’ conference produced a communiqué with a collective resolution for all to work for peace.
Matching words with action, the governor has set in motion modalities to bring back the good days of peace and tourism to the Plateau. With this renewed commitment, there is no doubt there is a possibility that Plateau will return to her days of Home of Peace and Tourism in Unity presenting to the world a united, stable and all-inclusive Plateau at peace with itself and the rest of the world.
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