Troubled by the continued killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen in Riyom, Bassa, Jos-North and Jos-South Local Government Areas of Plateau State, the National Council of Plateau Initiative for Development and Advancement of the Natives, PIDAN, has called on the Government to review the security architecture in the state with a view to halting the continued activities of marauding Fulani herdsmen and also curb further killings and kidnapping in the state.
PIDAN in a communique issued at the end of its National Council meeting in Jos, said while it appreciates the peace process put in place by the Plateau State Government, a total of 34 deaths in less than three months strongly suggests gross inefficiency of the security system.
Giving a statistics and identities of persons killed in the wake of the recent attacks in some parts of the state, PIDAN said: “The continued killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen in the LGAs of Riyom, Bassa, Jos-North and Jos-South as evidenced by reported deaths among whom were Stephen Joshua at Byei Village in Riyom LGA on 28th March 2021; 8 miners (Talatu Sunday; Jummai Useini; Davou Dalyop Pwol; Gyang Joseph Nyam; Gabriel Nuhu; Nvou Dung; Dung Monday; Mrs Shabang) around Cabitex Mining site Kuru, Jos South LGA on 9th April 2021; 8 persons (Sam Bulus 21yrs; Ezekiel Dung 30yrs; Pam Samuel 20 yrs; Pam Esther 5 yrs; Leah Pam 7yrs; Noroh Gyang 19 yrs.
“Garose Dung 81yrs; Jessica Monday 18 yrs; ) at Kwi (Kohorok) village in Riyom LGA- on 23rd May 2021; Rifkatu Friday(pregnant, 25yrs), Ladi Friday-7yrs, Minchwe Gado-86yrs all at Zanwra Village, Jebbu-Miango in Bassa LGA on 27 May 2021; Bulus Sunday at Dong Community in Jos North on 12 June 2021; 12 persons (Darap Ayuba Rap; Stephen Ayuba Rap; Ibrahim Monday Dong; Feng Gyang Dalong; Davou Matthew; Naomi Samuel Mwadkon; Kaneng Dung; Davou Pam.
Others according to PIDAN include: “James Fom; Gyang Juma; David Dalyop; Chigwuze Emmanuel Paul) at Sabo line Kuru Jos South LGA on the 14th June 2021; Mr Bitrus Manzere (Primary School headmaster) at Gwol-Hoss in Riyom LGA on 28th June 2021; Mr Patrick Pam 21 yrs at Byei Village in Riyom LGA on 29th June 2021; Agah Dille at Ri-Bakwa Village in Bassa LGA on 29 June, 2021. Sunday Dogo, 42yrs and Joshua Usman, 30yrs of Tamborong village in Ganawuri Riyom LGA on 30th June 2021.”
While calling on the national leadership of all Autochthonous Development Associations under the umbrella of PIDAN to equally compliment government peace building efforts by engaging in pragmatic dialogue with local Fulani leadership and other civil society groups to establish and strengthen community driven peace processes where it exists in their respective domains to address the twin evil of killings and kidnapping, PIDAN also tasked leaders of the various Associations to educate their members as well their community-security members on the need to carefully take note of strange movements and strange persons or suspects and report same to the security agencies.
PIDAN also tasked security agencies in the state to always ensure prompt response to calls on such matters from community leadership by providing meaningful feedback on such incidents.
On the National Livestock Transformation Plan (NLTP), PIDAN stated that it re-examined its earlier position by reiterating its concern 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, goats, dogs, etc.
PIDAN said it noted again 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 and urged Government to re-visit the issues of compensation to land owners in respect of so-called gazetted grazing reserves and hopes that the intended bill will address the various concerns being raised.
“Council further re-echoed its advice to the leadership of each Association to educate its members on the content of the NLTP as presently available in the public domain and await the public hearing session of the executive bill where they would be chanced to bear their minds and make pragmatic inputs on how to go about implementing the program in the various communities.”
On recent happenings in the education sector in the state, PIDAN disclosed that it deliberated on what it described as “some unpleasant developments” affecting unnecessary levies at Primary and Secondary Schools in the State.
It expressed worry about how private schools in the State collected full school fees from parents during the COVID-19 lockdown, a period during which schools were closed and students were at home yet full school fees were collected but some of such schools did not pay full salaries to their staff during the same period.
PIDAN also frowned at such practice and called on the Plateau State Ministry of Education to investigate the matter and direct the proprietors of such schools to make refund proportionate to the period when children were not in school and teachers did not receive full salaries.
On a recent directive to Secondary schools in the State to purchase the portrait of the Commissioner of Education at the Sum of N5,500, PIDAN said it is only aware of the tradition where relevant institutions such as schools do have the portraits of the Head of State and that of the State Governors adding that such portraits used to be provided to institutions at no extra-cost to the institutions hence it noted with concern the directive.
“Council did not see how the purchase and mounting of the portrait of Commissioner of Education in schools would improve the quality of education or even infrastructural development of such schools.
“Council viewed such directive as exploitative and designed to further impoverish the poor and overburden parents at this difficult economic period.
“If Government strongly believes in the usefulness of presence of the Commissioner’s portrait in the schools, it should bear the cost rather than transferring the cost to poor parents.”
PIDAN however called on the State Government to direct the State Ministry of Education to withdraw such directive and refund those schools that had already purchased the portrait.
On acquisition of land for government projects in the state, PIDAN recalled that it has been the practice of Government to acquire land from Communities for the siting of government projects for public use and for public good adding that Communities are usually happy to make land available because such projects are usually of tremendous help to the people.
It added that in the past, government at all levels have acquired such lands and used it for building institutions such as schools, hospitals, projects, industries but in recent years, PIDAN have witnessed a trend with Government in the State where land acquired from communities for projects for public good, were later on sold to individuals for private businesses especially where the initial project did not yield the desired economic dividends envisaged by government.
Said PIDAN: “Council frowns at such practice of selling the land following failure of such projects to individuals for private use.
“Council wishes to state that the sale of such acquired land to private individuals breeches the public principles of government-community moral agreement on service delivery of service of public good.
While advising government to uphold the principle of government-community moral agreement on service delivery, PIDAN said it implies that whenever a project is adjudged by Government to have failed, the land should be returned to the community owners.
“Council would equally parley with leadership of the Plateau House of Assembly with a view to seeing that a law is put in place to compel government to act in such matter in the overall interest of the Community that gave out the land.”
On plans towards the forthcoming Local Government polls in the state, PIDAN said it is pleased with the decision to conduct the Council elections and urged the Government to build on its previous experience and deliver fair and credible elections.
PIDAN however expressed worry over what it termed “the preparation and actions of the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission (PLASIEC)” which it said “have fallen short of the expectations of the people as mirrored by the views of the leadership of autochthones Development Association in the State as expressed by their submission at the Council meeting.”
“Council seriously frowns at the exploitative fees prescribed by the Commission for the offices. The nomination form fees (Form and processing) of N1,150,000 for Chairmanship; N900,000 for Deputy Chairmanship and N600,000 for Councillorship are outrageously exploitative and far above the average earning of a self-employed youth desirous of contesting for any of the offices.
“If one adds this to the party form fees which are equally very high with some parties charging N400,000 and N600,000 for Chairmanship and Councilors respectively and campaign costs, one could only imagine the financial burden of contesting for any of the offices at these local elections. The fee structure will certainly disenfranchise most young persons who otherwise could provide better leadership to their communities if given the chance.”
According to PIDAN, the conduct of the primaries by the parties and supervision of the party primaries by PLASIEC have equally fallen short of the expectation of the people and alleged that of the two most popular parties in the State, one party is reported to have allocated votes and reeled out names of party favourites for the chairmanship and Councillorship positions while the other party simply deployed a mere consensus approach to bring out its candidates for the Chairmanship elections.
While expressing its fears, PIDAN said “There is palpable fear that PLASIEC may not deliver fair and credible elections. Council resolved as follows:
“Council wishes to call on PLASIEC to live up to the public expectation by reviewing its exorbitant nomination fees downward and compel parties to do same. The Commission should also improve on its supervisory role over the party conduct and participation in the elections.
“Council equally frowns at the practice where winners of supposedly on-going elections are announced by an Electoral Commission and hope that the good people of Plateau State do not witness such undemocratic practice during the exercise.”
“Council demands that election results be announced at the polling unit and such results be transmitted similarly to the collation centres and to the Commission.