By Jude Owuamanam, Managing Editor, Northern Operations
JOS (Sundiata Post) – More than 30 communities in the southern part of Plateau State have agreed to end years of hostilities, which have culminated in the death of hundreds of people and destroyed property worth millions of Nigeria.
In an agreement signed on Thursday in Shendam, the communities sequestered in six local government areas of Langtang North, Langtang South, Mikang, Qua’an Pan, Shendam and Wase local government areas, resolved to put aside their differences and live in peace irrespective of tribe or religion.
The agreement was brokered by the Geneva, Switzerland-based Centre for Humanitarian Dialogic (HD) , which is an independent mediation organisation, dedicated to helping improve global response to armed conflict. It has been mediating in the inter-communal disputes in Plateau and Kaduna states.
The historic occasion tagged, ‘The Southern Plateau Peace Declaration’, was witnessed by the US Ambassador to Nigeria, W. Stuart Simonton; his German counterpart, Ambassador Bernhard Schlagheck; former chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; Plateau State Governor, Mr. Simon Lalong; Transition Committee Chairmen of the six local government, traditional rulers and member representing Wase Federal Constituency, Idris Majei, amongst others.
Lalong, who was elated by the development, said that the state has enjoyed relative peace in the two years of his administration, which has enabled concentrate on delivering democracy dividends to the people.
He told the communities that by continuously engaging in crisis, money meant for development will be diverted into private pockets in the guise of security votes, adding that he was amazed at billions of naira siphoned by the previous administration and when he made inquiries he was told that they were expended on security.
While commending HD for their efforts in southern zone, the governor recalled that the organisation had achieved similar feat in the northern zone where it worked with Afizere, Anaguta, Berom, Fulani, Hausa, Igbo, South-south and the Yoruba communities, which had resulted in peaceful co-existence in the Northern senatorial zone.
He said, “I must say that the peace process has laid the ground for strong foundations, upon which more effective long-term work in peace building, will logically develop and progress,” stressing that it was for this reason that he established the Plateau Peace Agency.
The US ambassador said that his country is interested in peace on the Plateau because Nigeria is an important partner that the US could not ignore.
Chairman of the occasion, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, recalled with nostalgia how many people had loved to live in Plateau because of the serene environment and expressed optimism that those days would surely come back.
The lead mediator and HD Country Director, Mrs. Alice Nderitu, in her welcome address, said that the signing of the agreement was not an end in itself, but the beginning of the peace process.
She said that HD seeks to improve the practice of mediation and strengthen capacity within the community of mediators, adding that in that respect the organisation carries out an extensive programme of support activities, which include providing advice as well as staff and logistics to others mediating in armed conflicts.
Nderitu urged the communities to uphold the letters and spirit of the agreement so as to entrench a culture of enduring peace in the state and southern zone in particular