By Golok Nanmwa ,Jos
Plateau State Governor Simon Bako Lalong
on Tuesday said his administration will continue to remove the triggers for conflicts such as those related to farming and grazing that is not only peculiar to the State.
He further said his heart is filled with joy that his administration has laid a solid foundation for peace, justice, equality, tolerance and hospitality.
He made this known while speaking at the Plateau forgiveness and reconciliation day in Jos .
Lalong said with the support of traditional, religious and community leaders, the Government has worked hard to substantially reverse the damage to the collective psyche and fractured inter-group coexistence.
“Today, the deep-seated level of mutual distrust, suspicion and hate that once characterized social relations between people of different ethno-religious backgrounds across Plateau State has greatly reduced to the barest minimum.
This is a result of the hours, days, months and years of work put in by the Plateau Peace Building Agency which we established backed by law, as well as the Inter-Religious Council that was also inaugurated with top leadership of the Christian and Muslim faiths deeply involved”.
Lalong emphasised that the focus on forgiveness and reconciliation does not in any way give room for criminality to thrive or be tolerated. Rather, crises merchants and criminals who previously operated with impunity have been run out of business.
“We have already sent a Bill to the State House of Assembly for the establishment of Ranching which will prohibit open grazing so as to tackle clashes between farmers and herders. Similarly, we passed and signed into law the Anti-Land Grabbing Law since 2020 to ensure that nobody is dispossessed of his land illegally.
Gov Lalong added that ” It is important to emphasize this because some people are making inciting statements alleging that some villages have been taken over by herdsmen in Plateau State and that the Government has not done anything about it.”
As Governor, I can say authoritatively that there is no report on my table that any village has been taken over by anyone. The Anti-Land Grabbing law provides that anyone whose land has been forcefully taken should write to me, his traditional ruler, Local Government Chairman, elected representative or even approach the court directly for redress. So far, no one or any community has done so”.
Sultan of Sokoto Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar showered praises on Governor Lalong for his passion for peace and reconciliation which has restored calm and progress in Plateau State.
He said the initiatives put in place by the Governor have galvanised the entire state and brought together people who are no longer looking at one another with suspicion, bitterness and hatred.
Catholic Archbishop of Abuja Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama said he was happy that the initiative taken many years ago has fully been implemented by the Plateau State Government under the leadership of Governor Lalong.
Gbong Gwom Jos Da Jacob Gyang Buba described the event as one that vindicates Governor Lalong who has stood firm in persuading the citizens of the State to put behind them and look forward to a greater future.
Other guests including Emir of Askira, Alh. Abdullahi Ibn Askirama II, Emir of Kano Aminu Ado Bayero, former Military Administrator of Plateau State Gen. Lawrence Onoja, former Governor Fidelis Tapgun, CAN General Secretary, PIDAN President, Chairman Inter religious Council Prof. Pandam Yamsat, all commended the Governor for towing the path of peace and ensuring that criminals are not allowed to operate with impunity while reconciliation is going on.
Former Director General of the NTA Yakubu Ibn Mohammed speaking on behalf of Plateau glorious stars recalled his life while growing up in Jos and said the unfortunate events of the past has been detrimental to the image of the State but the Governor has done well to reverse the situation through inclusive leadership.
The Governor assisted by the special guests unveiled the Gazette for the creation of New Districts and Chiefdoms as well as the Plateau Anthem, logo and symbol which were developed by Daps Dalyop Gwom.
The Governor also handed over 32 schools established by voluntary organisations back to their original owners.
Catholic Archbishop of Jos Most Rev. Ishaya Audu appreciated the Plateau State Government for adhering to the yearnings of the people and doing the needful.
Our correspondent reports that the people of Plateau State converged on the Rwang Pam Township Stadium Jos for the commemoration of this year’s Plateau Day and Day of Forgiveness and Reconciliation, a day set aside to mark the 47th anniversary of the creation of the State as well as reflect on the past experiences that once took away the peace of the State.