Simon Lalong: Champion of new Jos
By Abdu Abdullahi
For many years and prior to September 2001, Jos had been like an earthly paradise built on well orchestrated peace, firmly rooted social cohesion and fraternity of varying magnitudes for its diverse ethnic groupings.
Its natural and physical endowments as well as conducive settings attracted many people to its domain and rapidly enhanced socio-economic development.
During that blissful and developmental upsurge, Kano, Maiduguri, Yola, Bauchi and Gombe among other cities in the Northern part of the nation were at one time or the other boiling because of the spontaneous flames of Maitatsine riots and other forms of violence.
Jos then was looking more attractive, because peace was still a very crucial phenomenon that remained loyal to its inhabitants. When Kaduna was under the ravaging fire of the ill-fated Kafanchan religious uprising, the dust in the Tin City was absolutely quite.
While the Tivs and the Jukuns would not allow themselves to live in peace, the heterogeneous relationships in Jos were lively, influential and pervasive.
Even in natural disasters, such as the Ogunpa flooding, Jos was naturally protected and preserved. In complete orderliness, peace continued to blossom, thus giving the town a unique and different feature of significant dimensions both within and outside the country.
If Jos had been socially unstable and chaotic, the National Republican Convention (NRC) congress of 1992 would not have been held there. If the atmosphere in that city was too hostile and dangerous, the celebrated NTA program Cock Crow at Dawn would not have been produced. It was a television hit that promoted farming activities and rural life in the 1980s.
If Jos had been choked up with violence, the legendary singer Jimmy Cliff would not have stepped on its soil in the early 1970s. If the town was never peaceful, the erudite novelist Cyprian Ekwensi would have boycotted dwelling in it.
It is interesting to know that Ekwensi lived at Sarkin Arab Street in Jos where he interacted with some traders from Niger Republic. It was this social exposure that motivated him to write his famous novel, ’The Passport of Mallam Ilia.’
As if it was an open fallacy, the calculated and brutal handiwork of the enemies of progress was abruptly let loose. It stormed the Tin City which was at its highest peak of tranquility. Its beautiful face was suddenly brutalized and distorted by the ethnic gorillas.
It was a very terrible and agonizing experience that befell the town which was thrown into a state of unprecedented bloodletting and animosity. Tragically, many of its residents found that they were now living in the midst of ethno-religious wars which claimed the lives of their beloved ones.
Jos was now turned into a ghost town, destabilized, deserted by mass people, fleeing and scattering into different directions, leaving behind traumatic effects and violent tremor. Its vibrant social forces for which it acquired tremendous fame had vanished.
The architects of these human devastations deliberately designed this evil machination of immense consequences for selfish interest. Within a very short time, the town became a hell on earth, its occupants living with great fear, gradually; the town was pushed to the brink of a precipice. With almost a complete collapse of hope, its hitherto peace mandate was virtually looking empty and elusive.
Horribly, high profile hostility between the Muslims and the Christians was developed and entrenched into the social organism. It was a season of harvesting mistrust, disaffection, disunity, disenchantment and other harmful notions controlling the entire living process.
The antagonized people would no longer live in accordance with the feelings of human compassion. There were no go areas for the Muslims and the Christians! These war torn people could not see anything positive except the ugliness of chaos and anarchy. The city was so much drifting into monumental anarchy that one could easily recapitulate Fidel Castro’s reminder thus:”In a state of lawlessness, it is illegal to be law-abiding.”
For now, many were becoming pessimistic about the future. They saw it as very embarrassing, bleak and fatalistic.
Their negative anxieties were domineering and intimidating to the sense of sociology and psychology. The people were in a big dilemma living within the ambit of precarious hope.
At the climax of this great despair, a nice gentleman, Simon Lalong emerged as the executive governor of Plateau State in May, 2015. He is a cheerful fellow, urbane, tolerant, and purposeful with huge cosmopolitan status and considerable original mind.
Unfortunately before him, he saw how Joshua Dariye and Jonah Jang allegedly brought trouble to sack Jos and other parts of Plateau State. The duo shamelessly dismantled the social elements that lifted up Jos.
They proved that they were fake democrats who transferred misery and all forms of psychological hardships to many people. They transmitted ethnic diseases that inhabited and perturbed ethnic moderation as well as consideration.
Through their political recklessness, laxity and ethnic idiosyncrasy, many were mercilessly murdered and valuable properties destroyed. They are villains of democracy because they tried to impose poisonous ideas that would permanently define the politics of Plateau based on indigene/settler dichotomy.
Politically, Jang and Dariye are two sides of the same coin, prophets of doom, reactionary elements, ethnic bigots, unfit for prudent leadership. They are a disgrace to human civilization and all that it entails. They belong to the primitive era and dark ages and must face political retirement.
Four years into the dawn of a new era, Lalong has resolved to go through the soft liberalization process of his political thinking. This is to teach Jang and Dariye that politics of nationalism is mightier and more honorable than politics of ethnicity.
Lalong has marvelously grown larger than life, demonstrating to the people of Jos that he is a political guru with a clear, convincing and concise vision of human convictions and fidelity. He has polished his political thoughts to discard and get rid of ruinous, ridiculous frivolities and bickering. His political shrewdness of defeating lingering anarchy in Jos and installing lasting peace is his biggest political victory.
It is indeed a good sign of good things unfolding that Lalong has scored a big credit for his resolve to reconstruct part of the Jos Ultra Modern Market that was mysteriously destroyed by fire in November, 2001. The reconstruction project of this commercial and economic edifice is metaphorically the reconstruction of Jos.
The market is believed to be one of the best in West Africa. Its conception dates back to the mid 1970s when the old structure was consumed by fire. The reconstruction did not record any significant progress and was completely abandoned until the coming of the military Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari.
Between 1984 and 1985, the then military governor, Rear Admiral Bitrus Atukum synergized with the Federal Government for its speedy completion.
After its inception, Jos was now a new economic empire sending glad tidings across the nation. This economic transformation was affiliated to the social dimension to strengthen its mega status.
Traders from the neighboring states of Bauchi, Nassarawa, Benue, Kaduna and Gombe found a convenient point of emerging economic activities until the advent of that human catastrophe of September, 2001 which almost wiped out the city. With the delightful news of renovating the market, the rehabilitation of Jos has been set in motion.
At the end of the glamorous and structural fittings, Jos is expected to rediscover itself and its past glory. It will happily depart from being a danger zone to a safe town where business undertakings will conquer the evil mind.
Socially and economically, the city will then move forward after troubled years of imposed retrogression and retardation. Optimistically, by the convergence of the diverse ethnic groups in the area for pursuing means of livelihood, Lalong will heal the chronic wound of ethnic violence and eventually disgrace and defeat the enemies of progress who will love the market to remain perpetually obsolete.
By this single action, Lalong has expressed his readiness to revolt against those who are averse to modernity and slaves to primitive mentality.
By and large, the reconstruction of the Jos main market is the reconstruction of Jos itself as a beautiful city.
By extension, the reconstruction of the city is the reconstruction of the state as a whole. And the reconstruction of the state is the rescheduling of politics of ethnicity to the politics of progress.
By succumbing to the dictates of reasoned thoughts, Lalong is the champion of a new Jos as well as new Plateau.
Abdullahi contributed this piece from Galadanci Quarters, Ringim, Jigawa State and he can be reached through his GSM: 07036207998 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.