By Ralph Madugu
The National Council of Plateau Initiative for Development and Advancement of the Natives, PIDAN, made up of National Presidents and Secretary-Generals of all national development associations of ethnic nationalities on the Plateau, have expressed worry on the inherit inadequacies of the NLTP as it currently exists in the public domain especially its focus on cattle to the detriment of other livestock such as pigs, dogs, etc.
PIDAN in a communique issued at the end of its recently held meeting in in Jos attended by 43 of 58 ethnic nationalities, the Council noted with reprieve the Government intention to send an executive bill on the program to the State House of Assembly to provide legal backing to the program emphasizing that it hopes that the intended bill will address the concerns being expressed by members of the public.
It further advised the leadership of each Association to educate its members on the content of the NLTP as presently available in the public domain and awaiting the public hearing session of the executive bill where they would be to be able to bare their minds and make inputs on the usefulness of the program to their communities.
While reviewing the current security situation in the country, with particular interest on Plateau State, PIDAN expressed worries over the continued killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Riyom and Bassa LGAs, the increasing appearance of suspected Boko Haram members in Jos Metropolis, the spades of kidnapping of law abiding citizens particularly in Bassa, Jos-North and Jos East LGAs largely linked to activities of Fulani herdsmen and the continuous kidnapping of students in boarding schools in Katsina, Zamfara and more recently in the boundary State of Kaduna.
On the peace process put in place by the Plateau State Government, the PIDAN Council called on the State Government to redouble its efforts at stopping the continued marauding activities of Fulani herdsmen so as to curb further killings and kidnapping.
The council tasked the national leadership of all autochthonous Development Associations to equally compliment government peace building efforts by engaging in pragmatic dialogue with local Fulani leadership and other civil society groups to establish and it exist strengthen community driven peace processes in their respective domains to address the twin evil of killings and kidnapping.
“That each Association leadership should educate their members and its community-driven security members on the need to carefully take note of strange movements and strange persons or suspects and report to the security agencies. Council equally called on all security agencies to response to calls on such matters from community leadership promptly and endeavour to provide meaningful feedback on such incidents.
While calling for adequate security in and around schools in the state, PIDAN said “That each Association should bring together its community level key stakeholders (vigilante, leadership of Parents-Teachers Association, School Principals,) and in liaison with their respective LGA chairmen, strategize to strengthen security around all boarding schools in their domains to safeguard against kidnapping of students.”
On the recent establishment of the Federal Polytechnic Shendam, the meeting expressed delight with the announcement on the approval of the institution to be sited in Shendam and appreciated the Federal Government and Governor Simon Bako Lalong for the approval and appealed to the benefiting communities to be magnanimous in the handling of land compensation so as not to delay the takeoff of the polytechnic.
The PIDAN Council equally noted with delight the ongoing public hearing at the National Assembly on two bills seeking to establish a National Orthopaedic Hospital in Jos and a Federal Medical Centre in Wase sponsored by the Deputy Speaker of the House of Representative, Rt. Hon Ahmed Idris Maje and commended the efforts of the Deputy Speaker towards increasing health infrastructure in the State.
“Council further encouraged him and appeal to other members of the National Assembly from to State to join forces to see that the bills progress to enactment and building of the two institutions in the State.”
While reviewing the partnership with Civil Society groups in the area of humanitarian dialogue and peace building efforts in the state, PIDAN acknowledged the various contributions stating that the Association “has been doing tremendous work with different communities and more recently in collaboration with different leadership associations which are members of the PIDAN Council.
“The Council noted with delight the vital work of this Organization in the area of peace building in the most affected LGAs and communities in the State.
“The economic effects of the Plateau crisis on the indigenes when compared with non-indigenes revealed that indigenes hardly recover their economic activities to pre-crisis level.
“Increasing environmental degradation further compounded by the rampant felling of trees use as charcoal and firewood, thus constituting a potential source for future crisis if it remains unchecked.
“The need for crisis prone LGAs such as Bassa and Riyom which have some of its ethnic nationalities with sizable members in neighboring LGAs in Kaduna State to reach out to the leadership of such LGAs to strategize towards consolidating the current peace efforts. iv. The need for all peace stakeholders in the State to mount advocacy for the establishment of a National Peace Commission.
Council wishes to express it profound appreciation to the leadership of Humanitarian Dialogue in the State for an outstanding delivery of its programs which some Council members noted that their activities are having the desired effects on peace building. Council wishes to appeal to other NGOs to emulate Humanitarian Dialogue approach to service delivery at community level.
The Council however appealed to the Plateau State Government to re-prioritise the distribution of support for Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and evolve additional economic strategies in favour of victims of the Plateau crisis so as to address their special economic needs.
While urging members Plateau State Representatives in the National Assembly to examine the potential benefits and initiate a bill for establishing a National Peace Commission, the Council called on all peace stakeholders in the State to mount advocacy for the establishment of a National Peace Commission.
It further emphasized on the need for crisis prone LGAs such as Bassa and Riyom which have some of its ethnic nationalities with sizable members in neighboring LGAs in Kaduna State to reach out to the leadership of such LGAs to strategize towards consolidating the current peace efforts.