By Gyang Bere
This solemn occasion was declared to honour the memory of those who lost their lives during the Christmas Eve attacks on communities in Bokkos, Mangu, and Barkin-Ladi Local Government Areas of Plateau State.
Governor Mutfwang had earlier declared a week of mourning from Monday January 1st to Monday January 8th, with a call on citizens and fellow Nigerians to intensify prayers for divine intervention against the perpetrators of these heinous acts.
Remarkably, Muslim Clergy dedicated Friday, January 5th for special prayers in Mosques, while the Christian clergy used Sunday, January 7th as special prayer day in churches, seeking the mercy and grace of the Almighty God to restore lasting peace to Plateau State. Monday, January 8, was officially observed as a day of mourning.
The closing days of 2023 no doubt cast a dark shadow over the state, as it witnessed heart-wrenching unprovoked attacks on over 20 communities.
The assailants, with a total disregard for the sanctity of the Holy Night – the Christmas Eve, unleashed terror, resulting in the loss of innocent lives, looting, and the destruction of homes. Children and women were heartlessly killed, maimed, leaving some with disability and widowhood.
These atrocious acts have garnered global condemnation, labeled as “pogrom,” “genocide,” “ethnic cleansing,” or even “war.”
In a sober New Year broadcast, Governor Mutfwang asserted that the simultaneous nature of the attacks across several villages depict that they were premeditated and coordinated. He described the attacks as clear cases of criminality, insurgency and terrorism, as against the traditional narrative of Farmer-Herder clash.
Nevertheless, Governor Caleb Mutfwang rose to the occasion and showed uncommon leadership in the manner he responded to the carnage.
He quickly relocated to Mangu Local Government on Christmas day, and held strategic meetings with community leaders and the Special Task Force code named Operation Safe Haven to address the situation.
The governor wasted no time, but immediately went to brief President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR.
Having heard from the Governor first hand, the president understood the gravity of the attacks and swiftly gave directives that brought calm to the entire situation.
The Governor has expressed immense gratitude to President Tinubu for the proactive response. The security agencies were immediately directed to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice while the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) was tasked to mobilize relief materials for the victims.
He had also acknowledged the support of Vice President Kashim Shettima, the Minister of State for Defence, the Minister for Humanitarian Affairs and Poverty Alleviation, the National Security Adviser, Service Chiefs, the Inspector General of Police, Northern Senator’s Forum, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), Nigeria Christian Pilgrims Commission, Jamatu Nasir Islam, and a number of bodies and associations and individuals that came for condolences.
North Central Governors and Emergency agencies also collaborated to provide relief materials to victims. Efforts are ongoing to alleviate the plight of the victims.
Governor Mutfwang also visited survivors at the Jos University Teaching Hospital, and made provision for their medical bills. He also directed payment of medical bills for discharged patients who could not leave the hospital because of their outstanding bills.
He reaffirmed the commitment of his administration as the year began to continually collaborate with the Federal Government to halt the unprovoked attacks on communities. It is his desire that the many years of misery, despair and pains the people have gone through ended in 2023.
Despite the challenges, Governor Mutfwang’s administration, since May 29th, 2023, has made notable progress.
Some of the gains include; clearing unpaid salaries, approving payments of gratuity and pension arrears, and implementing a monthly stipend of N10,000 for Plateau workers.
Governor Mutfwang’s commitment to infrastructural development is evident in the rehabilitation of roads across Jos-Bukuru Metropolis and beyond; the procurement of gas-powered buses to ease transportation difficulties and procurement of over 200 trucks of fertilizer to encourage dry farming season in the state. He has also reinvigorated the State Security outfit “Operation Rainbow” to provide early warning signals. Efforts to kickstart rail services in the state have reached top gear.
Currently, obstructions on the track are being cleared and hopefully services would commence before the end of January, 2024.
Furthermore, Governor Mutfwang has repeatedly appreciated the unwavering support and confidence of Plateau people to have him lead the state at this trying period of its evolution. Residents did not only queue in the sun but turned out in large numbers during the polls to exercise their franchise and ensure that their votes counted.
So far, with the exemplary leadership demonstrated by Governor Caleb Manasseh Mutfwang, coupled with its clement weather, Plateau is set to become a global destination in near future.