By NBF News

Alhaji Yahaya Kwande, vice-chairman of the Chief Solomon Lar-led Presidential Advisory Committee on the Jos crisis, has advised parties in the dispute to moderate their positions. Kwande told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos yesterday that the crisis could be resolved if both the Berom and Hausa communities demonstrate a willingness to end the crisis by dropping their hard-line positions.

'The committee is doing its best but the leaders must be willing to settle their disagreements. Both sides appear strong-willed and adamant on the issues at stake,' he said.

Kwande said the insistence of the Hausa community that their members be addressed as indigenes was not possible 'going by the Oxford Dictionary definition of indigenes.

'The Oxford Dictionary defines an indigene as someone who lives in an area and cannot trace his ancestry to anywhere else. If we go by that definition, the Hausas are not indigenes because they trace their ancestral lineages to Katsina, Kano and Sokoto.

'It therefore means that they have to accept their status as settlers but the Berom must also know that the Nigerian Constitution has granted rights to even settlers.

'Since they have been here for so long, there is the need to strike a balance by giving them their rights as citizens of Nigeria.

'There is no need for us, as a people on the Plateau, to begin to fight and kill ourselves just because of a certificate of indigeneship; the settlers seeking that status are not more than 50 families.

'The Hausa settlers have also said they want more districts. They have a good case here because they are more than 400,000 and still in one district.

'With only one district and without any village head structure, they (Hausas) feel marginalised. It is only the natives that can create the districts and villages but they are not ready to do that.

'My candid opinion is that such complaints need to be addressed so that everyone will have a sense of belonging and political acceptance,'' he said.

He urged people in Plateau to learn to accept strangers as partners toward a progressive society. Kwande said the Presidential Advisory Committee had tried to work out some common areas of agreement to achieve lasting peace, mutual confidence and basic trust.

'What we have tried to do is to work out a middle-of-the-road agreement. But the leaders must be ready to concede some grounds. They cannot be so adamant.'' He rejected the colouration of the crisis in Jos as religious, saying that adherents of both Christianity and Islam had always respected one another.

'Religion cannot be the cause of quarrel among us in Jos. We have been together for so long. I am a Muslim, for instance, but my wife is a strong Christian and we have been together for 42 years.

'My daughter is also a Christian and has a Christian Ministry which she has been using to reach out to needy people of both faiths. We have never disagreed on that basis,'' he said.

Kwande, who traced the constant violence in Jos to greed, said people had lost the basic human touch and replaced that with insatiable lust for wealth, cars, houses and other vanities.