THE violent crisis which rocked Jos, the Plateau State capital, last November, took a dangerous dimension with the federal and the state governments now at daggers drawn over who should probe what actually went wrong.
What began with rumours became a sad reality which claimed lives and property as well as displaced many of the residents of the cold city in Nigeria.
The present imbroglio between the two tiers of government over the crisis, suggests that there could be more grievous dangers ahead. Constitutionality and sentiments have become the languages of the day, instead of proffering practical solutions to prevent future reoccurrence.
The state government, which filed a case at the Supreme Court to clarify whose purview is the issue of the probe, took a step further by inaugurating a panel in defiance of similar body set up by the Federal Government and the two chambers of National Assembly.
This means there are no fewer than four panels to probe the crisis. While the state government is accusing the Federal of trying to usurp its power, the Federal Government, through the presidential spokesperson, has clarified that there is no hidden agenda in its probe other than to end the crisis and forestall a reoccurrence.
In fact, panels of the federal legislature, the Senate and House of Representatives, have swung into action in calling for memoranda to begin their sitting respectively.
Probe panels have hardly resulted in proffering any real solution to any problem in Nigeria. The situation may hardly be different in the case of Jos. This is more so as the different major stakeholders in Jos and, indeed, the state have taken their separate positions which may undermine the outcome of the probe panels.
For instance, the Christian groups have voiced their recognition only for the state panel just as the Muslim groups said they would only appear at the Federal Government panel. The animosity created so far may surely undermine the outcome of the panels’ reports even before the commencement of their actual sitting. The approach to the crisis, so far, falls short of the expected.
Having four probe panels is unnecessary. A single panel with comprehensive representation should have been enough. And such a panel should have been constituted through wide consultations with various interests which may include tiers of government, traditional institutions, ethnic groups, religious bodies, amongst others.
Interestingly, the issue of probes has relegated to the background the need to provide necessary assistance and rehabilitation of the victims. Instead, the trauma suffered by the people is being deepened through politicisation that may pave the way for fraudulent political influence and corrupt economic gains. The efforts and initial intervention of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) through the provision of relief materials to the victims is commendable.
Almost immediately after the crisis, relief materials were mobilized and distributed directly to the victims by NEMA at the various camps of the displaced persons. The Director General of the agency, AVM Mohammed Audu-Bida (Rtd), led its delegation on-the-spot assessment of the situation and visited some of the camps and paid a courtesy call on Governor David Jonah Jang and other major stakeholders, especially security agencies.
The visit and delivery of the relief materials brought to the state the presence of the Federal Government through the agency in providing the immediate assistance to the people. It was during the visit that the governor commended NEMA for the swift response in the delivery of the materials.
The timely intervention of NEMA also facilitated the transportation of the bodies of three corps members killed during the crisis to their bereaved families in Lagos and Ibadan, through an aircraft from Nigerian Airforce.
Months after the unfortunate incident, an effort that is required is the re-assessment of the present condition of the victims who may be in the need of more assistance to return to their normal life. Politics and the struggle for power are far from what the traumatized people need for now. Community leaders and the state government are expected to assess and report the condition of the victims for additional assistance that may be needed.
The federal and Plateau State governments should find a way of ending the present furore and harmonise efforts at bringing assistance to the victims of the crisis. Whether panel or no panel, they should also stem the reoccurrence in the state and in the other parts of the country.
Mr. Manzo Ezekiel writes from Karu, FCT, Abuja