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Plateau Paid Mourners And Matters Arising

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By Gabriel Onoja

I wish I could avoid certain negative thoughts about Nigeria. It is my country and place I cherish so much. Until my aged mother passed on, she kept reminding me that there is no place like home. I have grown up to cherish her counsel. No peace anywhere is comparable to the peace in your house or home.

But negative thoughts about my country keep troubling my senses. I look at the actions and evil machinations of our people and feel its self- delusion not to reflect about the odd characters and attitudes of people in this country. The harder I try to keep off; my sub-conscious is invaded and bombarded with such patriotic thoughts.

Unfortunately, the impression I have of our people is that of a bloodthirsty, directionless, unfocused and debased citizens who delight in everything odious, but shun the positive attributes of existence. We often say, two wrongs cannot make a right. But those who promote this axiom still go out to correct a wrong with the commission of another wrong.

Another confusion has erupted in the country, as manifest in the recent killings on the Plateau. We can conveniently link the latest violence to the perennial herders/farmers conflict, which have accentuated since the beginning of 2018 in the Middle Belt region or Benue valley.

We cannot doubt that these crises have facilitators and masterminds, whose only mindset is to reverse the gains Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong has made in peace and security in the state. They don’t want him to earn this positive point in leadership.

And to actualize their devilish plots, all they needed was a spark and it came through the latest dastardly attacks and killings. Whilst the drama lasted, the same sponsors of the killings quickly mobilized their errant boys to another dance of shame in the guise of protests or mourning to further kill and destroy Government House to complete the planed circle of violence.

And all manner of people and organizations’, with grandeur names were prodded and possibly, financed to cause more violence. They dusted their toga of decency and became vulnerable tools in the hands of enemies of the state, as they gladly staged out to amplify the fire to earn the peanuts.

We heard revered and kingly names such as the Christian Association of Nigeria (Northern Zone of Plateau State), the Youth Wing of Christian Association of Nigeria (Plateau State) and Bazata Gospel Team which were rendered prostrate by the power of naira in the guise of mourning .

The groups led protests, which ended up in fresh deaths, threats to lives of government officials and the destruction of public properties had religious labels. I was forced to ask myself, what wisdom could inform such a nauseating action. How can we reconcile the position that we have embarked on killings to justify killings?

So, I noticed the smoldering fire of paid agents and minions at optimal performance. I saw the flames of absurdity and the inclination to destructions by these groups, which defeated the spirit of mourning as defined by any Christian doctrine.

If we subject wisdom to test, how would anyone agree that true Christians should prefer violent public protests in the guise of mourning , than quiet, peaceful, silent prayers and supplications to God Almighty in churches and homes? It conveyed a mindset quite different from the public badge of the protest/mourning staged by the groups.

I clearly understood and empathized with Gov. Lalong, when he decried the glaring demonic content of the protests with the words; “the very clear and obvious unpatriotic self-serving interest of a few who have chosen to make a mockery of the grief of the victims of the attack in Gashish District and other areas of the Northern Senatorial District.”

The protesters further betrayed themselves in a manner that mocked the sacred virtues of godliness. In crisis situations, I could not discern how the protesters wanted the Governor’s presence at a venue and time they dictated. When they stormed Government House, Gov. Lalong was on a hospital visit to the Jos University Teaching Hospital, where about 50 victims of the attacks were hospitalized.

Between mourning and saving the lives of survivors, I don’t know which event the mourners considered more serious and hearty. So, the protesters almost lynched the chairman, Plateau State Peace Building Agency, Mr. Joseph Lengmang, who was delegated by the Governor to address them. They chased and violently attacked every government official at sight and freely hurled stones at buildings and vehicles, thus donating to us another level of destructions. Deaths also came from these resentful actions.

From that moment, It became clear to me that the agenda was indisputably at variance with the dummy sold to the public. The collective resolve of Plateau people to unite and rise above the evil machinations of their enemies was shattered through these groups, lending credence to the suspicion that some of their members may be part of the enemies terrorizing the state.

While the reprisal madness on the Plateau raged, the former Minister of Education, and leader of #BBOG group, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili extended this loathsome appreciation of the Jos crisis to the Presidential Villa in a lone protest. It is like Oby Ezekwesili is becoming too used to “Kpamurogo” dance steps on every issue.

It’s incredible the reality that with Ezekwesili’s status and experience, she believes every matter is resolved through protests. Where she cannot find apostates to back her mission, she embarks on a lonely drive like in this instance.

For a long time now, I have noticed her abuse the right to protest and freedom of assembly using the banner of #BBOG. Even in this instance, the kernel of what Ezekwesili said in her 18-point demand to the Presidency made little sense.

I could not understand what she meant by the President failing to show empathy for the victims of the bloodshed. Yet, she knows security has been drafted to the areas and normalcy restored. The victims of the unfortunate violence are also receiving medicare.

I can infer that some people derive pleasure in the misfortune of others. And Nigeria has become a nation where there are both executive and area boys career protesters. While the forces behind the crisis pushed for its escalation in the aftermath, their pawns competed for space and attention. But none bothered to reflect on what caused the crisis or how it started, to see how the warring parties can be genuinely assisted to overcome their foibles to live in harmony.

We do not wish to know that some six herdsmen who had gone to a local market were innocently murdered by some criminals. It was the reprisals that ended in the mayhem, which again was consolidated by the protesting mourners, leading to the death of many innocent travelers plying the Jos- Bauchi road and Riyom. Its madness at its peak.

Instead of exploring avenues to restore or even impose peace, some
paid mourners went on the offensive, dancing “Azonto” on the graves of the unfortunate brethren who lost their lives in all these unfortunate incidents.

Certainly, these are bad times for our country. And we must be careful, if not, we can easily drag ourselves into a consuming inferno. With all the nobility identified in the groups of the paid mourners, they were least bothered about reputation. That’s what makes us a strange people.

They presented themselves in the worse manner, indulging in shameful and abominable acts. That’s the wrong way to mourn the dead by any Christian. It portrayed them as worse than the killers they sought to expose and denigrate.

Onoja wrote from Rayfield, Jos.

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