By Yakubu Dati
Efforts of the Plateau State Government under Governor Simon Bako Lalong towards placing the state in the right direction towards achieving sustainable peace is becoming more glaring.
But more encouraging is the buy-in by the citizenry into the project in ways that would create the environment for growth and development which the state government has made one of its cardinal objectives.
There have been more than a few contributions lately but the recent visit of the COCIN leadership to President Muhammadu Buhari at Aso Rock Villa led by Rev Dr. Dachollom Datiri on Monday, November 5, 2018 deserves a mention.
The visit coming at this time lends credence to the fact that the Lalong administration is not only willing but eager to join hands with the people in the various communities and organizations to look for solutions to the continuos threat to peace in the state while also showing that it is determined to resolve the issues using genuine means including collaborative efforts with individuals and organizations.
By making a case for the Internally Displaced Persons, IDPs, scattered in several locations in the state, the COCIN president has succeeded in reiterating the point the state government as well as other well-spirited individuals and organizations have been making to highlight the urgency of the unfortunate situation the state has found itself.
Instructively, the state government has not undervalued the contributions from these well spirited individuals and organizations but has encouraged such viewing them as complementary efforts meant to ease the sufferings of its people.
This is even as the state government has been working through a high powered committee to resettle the distressed and heartbroken in their ancestral homes and has done much to reassure them that government is not only concerned about their welfare but will go beyond that to equip them with entrepreneurial and other skills for survival.
While the government has continued to encourage such partnership, it must be stated that the commitment of the state government in meeting the needs of the camps of internally displaced persons has not waned as is evident in the Technical Report of the Committee on Internally Displace Persons which was submitted to the Plateau State Government on November 12, 2018.
The resolve by government to do more has been exemplified in the regular dialogues between the government and other critical stakeholders supported by the fact that such dialogues between the people and communities have enabled the government take certain measures and actions.
One of the notable areas the state devoted its energies is the establishment of a peace building agency. The agency and other critical stakeholders have been working round the clock proffering solutions in the areas which have brought misunderstanding and had led to crises in some of the local government areas.
Also worthy of note is the genuine efforts engaged in the training of 500 neighbourhood personnel attached to the Operation Rainbow in order to have the agency’s personnel deployed for community policing and intelligence gathering to stem the tide of the restiveness as well as what has become commonly referred to as land grabbing of the ancestral lands of communities that have been affected by the crises.
Steps have also been taken to ensure communities live in peace with one another as can be observed by the fact that the state government took to catering for the welfare of the people. It (state government) believes that no amount can be too much to spend to guarantee the safety of lives and property of its citizens.
It can be recalled that following the wave of insecurity occasioned by the attacks on communities, the state benefited from a ground breaking project for the establishment of 66 Mobile Police Force (MPF) Squadron at Longvel, Shendam Local Government Area by the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Ibrahim Idris.
The establishment of the Squadron Mobile Unit would by all means increase and improve the existing security infrastructure in the state for the purpose of providing adequate security for human lives and properties.
That novel effort of the establishment of PMF 66 Squadron in Shendam is one of the strategies to ensure that the Nigeria Police is at all times within reach, and able to respond to the challenges of crime confronting the people. That singular initiative is not by accident but a deliberate attempt to fight crime and criminality in communities as a result of the crises.
The efforts by the state governor did not go unnoticed as the Inspector General of Police has since appreciated Governor Simon Lalong for donating 51 patrol vehicles to security agencies in the 17 local government areas. The 51 patrol vehicles were donated by the state government in collaboration with the local governments.
Equally, the collaboration would not end with the police as the Nigerian Air Force has established a special operations command unit, combat search and rescue group in Plateau State as part of efforts in providing rapid response to security challenges in and around the North east and North West regions of the country.
It was the Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar who said the current security situation in the country requires the establishment of the new unit that will respond to crisis areas in the northern parts of the state, as well as enhance the civil/military relationship.
To facilitate that initiative the Nigerian Air Force resolved to provide aerial coverage for effective security ground operation across the country, the 205 combat search and rescue group has been established in Kerang, Mangu Local Government Area of Plateau State in the north central region of Nigeria.
Without sounding political, Governor Simon Bako Lalong at the closing ceremony and finals of the peace football tournament organised by the special task force, Operation Safe Haven (OPSH) in Jos that said, ‘I would not rest until lasting peace is restored in Plateau’. It is the responsibility of the Plateau state Government not to rest in its quest to bringing lasting peace in the state.
Giving these measures it is only natural that residents of the state should be responsive to this cause by contributing to the peace process in all communities. Every resident of Plateau must contribute to the peaceful communal life the state was known for. The intensification of vigilance and community participation would stem the tide of the stage some communities in the state have come to be labeled.
The approval granted the state for the establishment of Police Mobile Force Squadron at Gashish, Barkin Ladi LGA, is to promptly respond to distress calls within the axis as several communities in the area have been embroiled in crises that have claimed several lives.
This principally was the reason Governor Lalong requested for the establishment of the Mobile Squadron unit to maintain peace in such volatile communities. While presenting the approval letter, DIG Habila Joshak, said ten units which is about six hundred and thirty personnel would be deployed to the new squadron when facilities are available.
The point being made and reiterated by government is that there has been huge government intervention in the area of peace and the welfare of those affected.
The government is aware that a lot of government interventions in terms of relief materials have been made available to camps and communities so the only way out is a shared commitment as only that could surmount the challenges confronting the people.
This government has shown responsibility in not allowing the deaths and losses suffered by the people go in vain and the process for sustainable peace can only be consummated through a reciprocal gesture by the citizens.
Hon. Yakubu Dati,
Commissioner for Information and Communications,
Plateau State, Nigeria.