BLOODBATH ON THE PLATEAU
CHRIS GYANG urges the incoming governor of Plateau State to declare a state of emergency on insecurity as soon as he assumes office
Obviously, the enemy was mightily upset. After eight long, horrific and brutal years of sorrow, apprehension and gloom, the overwhelming victory of Mr. Caleb Mutfwang in the March 18, 2023, gubernatorial vote finally offered Plateau people a respite, a ray of hope. So, across political party, ethnic and religious divides, they engaged in tumultuously celebration, as one family.
By perpetrating that massacre of May 15, 2023, on the very soul of the governor-elect’s homeland, our enemies intended to inflict maximum fear and pain that will frighten him from stamping his feet and confronting this persistent injustice done the peace-loving Plateau indigenous communities and citizens. They insist that this land-grabbing and displacement of communities from their ancestral lands must continue.
Yes. As a reminder that this testament of blood will persist, they have continued to visit terrorism on us – ordinary folk, defenceless children and women. Even crops in the fields are not spared. Sadly, their brutal message is clear: even under a new dispensation, they will not cease fire and leave the land in the hands of those into whose hands God has entrusted them.
Unfortunately, they plan to intensify this mayhem. They sense that the new man in the saddle is poised to face them frontally and without equivocation – a far cry from the standard practice in the last eight years which almost became routine state policy.
But, even amid the wailing, pain and blood that have characterized the last few weeks in Plateau State as we edge towards the historic handing over of power, the governor-elect, Caleb Mutfwang, has shown that he is prepared to face these enemies of the state and make the much sought-after difference in this department of seemingly intractable lawlessness.
He has exhibited sufficient commitment and zeal that he is prepared to not only offer leadership from the front, but he is also ready to be courageous even to the point of making great sacrifices to bring peace to this beautiful land full of plenty. That is the stuff true leadership is composed of.
He amply demonstrated this resolve in his interview with Channels television a few days ago when he hinted that he was already in full grasp of the true nature of the problem on ground.
The North Central governors and other political leaders are now solidly united about sharing National Assembly and sundry positions. They have never done this regarding the insecurity that is threatening the very existence of their Middle Belt peoples.
This is the lesson here for Mutfwang: it is only when it comes to apportioning positions for personal aggrandisement that most of our leaders stand as one. This has been the bane of this region in the last eight years.
Therefore, the onus is on Mutfwang to rally round his other colleagues in this region towards ensuring its collective security. In the last eight years, our governor preferred to wine and dine with the enemies of the state instead of forming a coalition, just as the South-West has done, to tackle this hydra-headed problem. Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State was abandoned in the wilderness to fend off that enemy, all alone.
Going forward, Barrister Mutfwang must also declare a state of emergency on insecurity in Plateau State immediately he assumes office. The Mangu massacre should serve as an eye-opener for him.
Once upon a time, Governor Jonah Jang was vilified on national media as being ‘recalcitrant’ by a national security adviser. He had courageously and vociferously called out the security agencies and warned the entire country about suspicious movements of persons deemed to be threats to the state’s security.
It was at that point in time that some of the odious seeds of the current state of anomie in this part of the country began to be sown. Regardless, he had the uncommon vision to push for legislation leading to the formation of the community-based security outfit, Operation Rainbow.
That was at a time when most governors had not yet thought about the looming hazards of terrorism, herdsmen’s attacks and banditry to the entire country. Unfortunately, just as other progressive initiatives of the Jang administration, Governor Lalong has virtually rendered that organisation prostrate and useless, even as the state continued to be buffeted by incessant attacks.
It is widely believed that Mutfwang would, as part of his declaration of a state of emergency on insecurity, make the resuscitation of Operation Rainbow one of its cardinal objectives.
How do you react to people who kill and maim defenceless men, women and children and destroy houses and farmlands? Do you, once again, mainly resort to weeping, name-calling and vowing the kind of revenge that has at its core the code of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth? No. Not again.
That has consistently failed because there was no truth whatsoever in that approach as our leader and his co-travellers were most of the time speaking from both sides of the mouth. Plateau needs a more robust, honest, systematic and coordinated approach to tackling this menace. And this must be built on the strong foundation of justice.
In a country where violence and lawlessness have become the order of the day, it would not be amiss for the in-coming governor to toe the familiar line of resorting to the sophistry and inconsequential gibberish that it is “unknown gunmen, hoodlums and bandits that are attacking Plateau people.” Certainly, the Mangu mayhem has only served to open the eyes of the in-coming governor and emboldened his resolve to confront this monster head-on.
They thought that, by spilling innocent blood on Barrister Mutfwang’s stepping-stone to power on May 29, 2023, they would weaken his hand, reduce him to yet another pliable weakling in their hands. They have made a great mistake.
Those bloody footstones shall become his and Plateau people’s path to lasting peace and progress. That innocent blood shall point the way to that kind of justice that finally brings healing and sustainable peace to this land.
That would be the final vindication of the Mangu and other victims of these atrocities that have ravaged this state in recent times.
As never before, the people are ready to solidly march behind their new governor. This is because they have found in him their own Caleb who has come to finally shatter these horrid walls of Jericho.
Gyang is the Chairman of the N.G.O, Journalists Coalition for Citizens’ Rights Initiative