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Sunday, December 23, 2012

From My Facebook Posts (9): Cry Not, Plateau

CRY NOT, PLATEAU £££ By Dr. Aliyu U. Tilde£££ The picture below is that of the once famous Jos Main Market, the best of its kind in West Africa. It was conceived by Dan Suleiman, completed by Solomon Lar, commissioned by Muhammadu Buhari, and destroyed by the agents of hate.£££ Yesterday, the market was the centre of commerce for most of the Northcentral and Northeastern states, with hundreds of millions of naira exchanging hands among Nigerians from possibly diverse backgrounds and origins. It was a centre of unity and progress.£££ Today, the market is a home to wild grasses and reptiles, criminals and addicts. The beauty of the different African attires, faces and fragrances that occupied it yesterday is replaced by pathetic sights of ruins, faeces and danger. Five days ago, as I stood amidst the ruins of its spacious courtyards and basements which served thousands of traders from whom we used to shop daily, I could see the darkness that has overtaken the Plateau since 2001; I could breathe it; and I could almost touch the odorous atmosphere. The state of the market illustrates the difference between our yesterday leaders who worked hard to build and those of today whose mission is to destroy as their own way of rewarding the country of the rights and privileges it accorded them yesterday.£££ The ghost building is an epitome of powerful the evil of hate is. After an attempt to burn the market during the day failed in 2011, the agents of hate resorted to use bombs, the first time a bomb was used in civilian conflict in Northern Nigeria. The bombs exploded in the early morning hours when the traders were asleep in their far away homes. The heavily steeled structure gave in to the power of the explosives - and to the evil will of the bombers. To them they have succeeded in ruining the businesses and livelihood of thousands of Nigerians.£££ However, the market was only one calamity among many that hit Plateau since the advent of democracy. This year, children have not been enrolled into public primary schools. Teachers and workers have not been paid for over seven months. Today, filth and waste occupy the islands of the once beautiful Ahmadu Bello Way.£££ Everybody laments at how the city of Jos is now divided into Christian and Muslim quarters. Everybody is filled with a nostalgia for yesterday, when you could drive around Jos beyond midnight, with cinema and bars shared between adherents of the different faiths, with mosques and churches sharing the same neighbourhoods. The question here is: If the people on the Plateau want to extricate themselves from the present state of underdevelopment and fear, what is stopping them?£££ They are stopped by the leadership that thrives on the crises. People on both sides of the divide build their hope as elections approach. However, at the turn of every election, the government manipulate religion in places of worship to hold a section of the voters captives of its manipulations. The propaganda of calling the opposition candidate all sorts of unprintable names goes full swing and, behold, leaders of religion swallow the poison which is laced with maddening amounts naira. Immediately after the election, despondency returns as every promise by the government is thrown into the garbage bins. Services are not rendered to the public, salaries are not paid, the treasury is looted.£££ The relative peace in Jos and its environs is the result of two things: the presence of the military on the streets and the dichotomy of its geography. We civilians like bashing the military and often complain of its highhandedness when we continue to blow every opportunity to live peacefully. However, the military would continue to be on the streets of Plateau State only at the cost of its treasury, thereby exacerbating the financial incapacity of the government and the deprivation that is now prevalent. The average Nigerian on the Plateau is undoubtedly poorer today than he was before September 12, 2001 when the crisis first broke out.£££ In a democracy, the only way to get rid of bad leaders is through free and fair elections. That may seem a tall ambition in Nigeria. However, I believe one day it will be a reality. That day, Plateau people will vote for candidates that will ensure the atmosphere of peace that is necessary for their economic progress.£££ The sun of leaders who thrive on bigotry and chauvinism will one day set. So cry not, Plateau. The day will come. Your market will be rebuilt. Your workers will be compensated adequately. Your children will go to school. Then, you will answer your name, "Home of Peace and Tourism."£££ Before then, sad to note, you will continue to remain in the hands of the bad hands of our unpatriotic leaders, painful as it is, with your population divided, your market in ruins, your workers in poverty and your children sitting idle at home when their counterparts in other states are schooling.£££ 19 December 2012

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