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Voluntary organizations in Plateau receive back 32 schools

by Christiana Gokyo, Jos

Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong

Not less than 32 schools established by voluntary organizations in Plateau State have been handed over to the original owners. The event took place during the Plateau Peace Day of “Forgiveness and Reconciliation” – a day set aside to mark the 47th anniversary of the Creation of the State as well as reflect on the past experiences that once took away the peace of the State. 

The Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, while handing over the schools at the Rwang Pam Township Stadium Jos, on Tuesday, said already they have sent a Bill to the State House of Assembly for the establishment of Ranching, which will prohibit open grazing so as to tackle clashes between farmers and herders.

 According to him, the State has passed and signed into law the Anti-Land Grabbing Law, since 2020, to ensure that nobody is dispossessed of his land illegally. 

“It is important to emphasize this because some people are making inciting statements alleging that some villages have been taken over by herdsmen in Plateau State, and that the Government has not done anything about it,” he lamented.

“As Governor, I can say authoritatively that there is no report on my table that any village has been taken over by anyone.

“The Anti-Land Grabbing law provides that anyone whose land has been forcefully taken should write to me, his Traditional Ruler, Local Government Chairman, elected representative or even approach the court directly for redress. So far, no one or any community has done so,” he said.

He expressed joy that his administration has laid a solid foundation for peace, justice, equality, tolerance and hospitality, saying this was with the support of traditional, religious and community leaders, adding that, the government has worked hard to substantially reverse the damage to the collective psyche and fracture done to inter-group coexistence. 

“Today, the deep-seated level of mutual distrust, suspicion and hate that once characterized social relations between people of different ethno-religious backgrounds across Plateau State has greatly reduced to the barest minimum. 

“This is a result of the hours, days, months and years of work put in by the Plateau Peace Building Agency which we established, backed by law, as well as the Inter-Religious Council that was also inaugurated with top leadership of the Christian and Muslim faiths deeply involved.”

The governor emphasized that the focus on forgiveness and reconciliation does not in any way give room for criminality to thrive or be tolerated; rather, crises merchants and criminals who previously operated with impunity have been run out of business.

He said, Government has continued to remove the triggers for conflicts such as those related to farming and grazing that is not only peculiar to Plateau State. 

Speaking also, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar, commended the governor for his passion for peace and reconciliation, which has restored calm and progress in Plateau State. 

He said the initiatives put in place by the governor have galvanized the entire state and brought together people, who are no longer looking at one another with suspicion, bitterness and hatred.

According to the Sultan, “You cannot do anything without peace in your life. You can have peace, if you don’t forgive, because God Almighty who created us forgives us; why can’t we forgive one another?

“You must forgive. If you don’t forgive, you don’t have a good heart. Let’s continue to forgive one another and our brother, and we should be our brother’s keeper,” he noted.

Also, the Catholic Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Abuja, His Grace Most Revd. Dr. Ignatius A. Kaigama, expressed happiness that the initiative taken many years ago has fully been implemented by the Plateau State Government under the leadership of Governor Lalong.

The Gbong Gwom Jos, Da Jacob Gyang Buba, described the event as one that vindicates Governor Lalong, who has stood firm in persuading the citizens of the State to put behind them and look forward to a greater future. 

Other guests, including Emir of Askira, Alh. Abdullahi Ibn Askirama II; Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado Bayero; former Military Administrator of Plateau State, Gen. Lawrence Onoja; former Governor Fidelis Tapgun; CAN General Secretary; PIDAN President; Chairman Inter Religious Council, Prof.  Pandam Yamsat – all commended the governor for towing the path of peace and ensuring that criminals are not allowed to operate with impunity, while reconciliation is going on. 

Former Director-General of the NTA, Yakubu Ibn Mohammed, speaking on behalf of Plateau Glorious Stars, recalled his life while growing up in Jos and said the unfortunate events of the past have been detrimental to the image of the State, but the governor has done well to reverse the situation through inclusive leadership. 

The governor, assisted by the special guests, unveiled the Gazette for the creation of New Districts and Chiefdoms as well as the Plateau Anthem, logo and symbol which were developed by Daps Dalyop Gwom.

On a contributory note, the Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Jos, Most Rev. Ishaya Audu, appreciated the Plateau State Government for adhering to the yearnings of the people and doing the needful, while handing over the schools to the owners.

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