Between January 10, 2010 and January 15, 2010, for the first time in my life, I saw how guns, machetes, axes and other weapons were used freely in various streets of Jos, the Plateau State capital in the name of ethnic, religious, tribal and clannish agitations.
I was then undergoing my mandatory one year National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) in Bauchi and I only came to spend the weekend in Jos with my uncle. I was on my way back to Bauchi when I was trapped in the middle of the crisis. From the Good Samaritan whose house served as a fortress, a place of safety and sanctuary where we had gone to hide, I saw corpses, dead bodies, carcass of human beings, injured, disfigured, wounded, impaired and decimated people, affected in the name of the crisis.
This August, I was in Jos again, this time, for the book launch of a childhood friend somewhere in Ray Field; I went round the length and breadth of the city and the atmosphere in Jos was serene, the whole town was busy with business activities and residents of the state at peace with one another. My journalistic instinct got the better of me and I became curious why Armored Personnel Carriers (APCS) that were common sights on the streets of Jos have been replaced with Taxis and Keke Napeps, as people are transported from place to place. Governor Simon Bako Lalong through an administration embedded with justice, equity, fair play, good governance and inclusiveness has replaced gun shots with music, bomb blasts with carnival music while citizens now preach love, togetherness, tranquility and peace having studied the body language of the governor.
For the first time in the history of the Middle Belt region, a governor was nicknamed with the sobriquet, “Alert Governor” because of his regular payments of emoluments to civil servants. This alone has re-inflated the economy of the state.
A manifestation of the moniker of the governor as a peace protagonist was the Jos Carnival where he alongside his beautiful wife walked eight kilometers to the carnival. Jos has regained its name as Home of Peace and Tourism with the Association of Nationals Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN), recently hosting its weeklong conference in the state and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) following suit afterwards.
Sokoto State recently held a retreat in Jos with the governor, Aminu Tambuwal and Sultan Sa’ad Abubakar leading commissioners, board members and others to Jos city for a one week retreat. This can only happen in an atmosphere embedded with peace .
In area of Sports and Youths Development, the encouragement, inspiration and motivation the governor is providing in this area has uplifted Plateau United to just six points from claiming the league as the best football team in Nigeria. This is an unprecedented feat.
Simon Luka writes from Jos