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JANG AND THE CHALLENGE OF SECURITY IN PLATEAU

By NBF News

Security of lives and property is fundamentally a primary duty of any

responsible government, the world over. This is basic. Government at whatever levels are constrained to ensure that their subjects and belongings are safe at all times. There are, however, exceptional instances of security threat, circumstances of which can be excusable and deal with appropriately.

That is wont to happen. But when is becoming a trend or sustained pattern, it then requires that the extra-ordinary measures are taken to correcting the abnormality because that is what it is.

The case of Plateau State is worrisome, no doubt. But this is not one peculiar to the Governor Jonah Jang administration. Plateau, as far back as 1994 had begun to experience sectarian crises. Unfortunately, these have literally continued unabated.

Thus, faced with similar situation, efforts taken by this present administration have shown that these crises are not sheer happenstances. Without pointing fingers, there are strong indications, which are rife too that certain individuals or groups may have been instigating this wanton loss of lives and property for certain reasons, which is predominantly selfish.

Much as Jang had drawn the attention of the authorities at the centre to the fact the crises in the state are designed by people with vested interest, both from within and outside the state, nothing quite affirming appears to have been done in this direction. But it is easier for anyone to shift blames at the doors of the government. It is convenient for the opposition to tag the governor as incompetent for political purposes.

The fifth columnists are eager to call for a more drastic measure- perhaps, the declaration of an emergency situation all to paint the picture that the government in place is not fit. But that is far from the truth.

It takes just a simple deductive reasoning to ascertain that the current trend of crises in Plateau is artificial. The good news, however, is that the governor has fully taken control of the situation. What seemed very ugly before now is understandably the function of those who are poised at creating a situation of insecurity with a view to clamping down on government unjustly.

Only recently, the Plateau State Government raised an alarm over alleged fresh planned attack on the state from a neighbouring state. According to reports, a top government official who gave this hint but preferred not to be identified for security reasons said the planned fresh attack is coming in the same pattern as the previous ones that were wrecked on the people of the state.

The source said the attackers usually perfect their strategies from the particular neighbouring state before descending on Plateau and that recently, intelligence report indicated that a fresh attack was under way and had been slated for any time from the time of hint.

'We have intelligence report about an ongoing plan to attack the state. Certain areas have been identified like they usually do in all cases. And this was what happened during the last experience. We had a hint of it and it was carried out as planned. This will not happen again. Whoever dares the state will not live to tell the story. The lives and properties of the people of the state are paramount to the governor and he would do everything within his means to ensure they are safe,' he said.

The source who holds a strategic position in the Jang administration recalled the attack of July 17 which he claimed was foretold by the security apparatus in the state. He explained that the attack was carried out as earlier hinted by intelligence report but was amazed that it was not thwarted despite having a fore-knowledge. He said the Director of State security had briefed the security council at a meeting held on July 14 about a pending attack conceived from the same neighbouring state and specifically mentioned two parts of Plateau that were marked for the attack. The attack, he said was eventually carried out.

He also confirmed the fact that the security situation in the state differs now.

He said the security agencies have beefed up for surveillance in the new development and that Plateau is more prepared against any such attack now. While commending the governor for having taken stringent security initiatives to stemming the tide of attacks and crises in the state, the source said cases of attack are no longer feasible in the state with what is presently obtainable.

'I can tell you that we are working seriously on this tip-off and we have our plans ready. This planned attack would fail this time. The governor is in control and everything is under calm. We would not condone any such thing…not anymore,' he said.

But he could not have been saying anything new. Jang also gave a hint of some of these developments in a recent interview with a national daily. Being a retired general, Jang claimed to be in the know of the situation, especially as it has to do with internal security of the state. He reiterated that stringent efforts are already being taken to stemming the tidy and ultimately subduing the ugly situation for good.

'But honestly speaking, as a retired general, I believe I have been on top of the situation otherwise, it would have been worse than this and thank God even the security chaps know I have been part of them. They know I know everything about this internal security,' Jang said in the interview.

Jang is of the view that reports sometimes emanating from the state are often over-sensationalised, which invariably give wrong picture of the accurate account of the situation in the state. 'We are all working hard with the Federal Government to make sure that this crisis is put behind us. But let me say this, I do not know why they (media) do like carrying things about Jos; everything about Plateau is in big headline forms in newspapers and broadcast media. When what is happening in the eastern part of the country is worse than what is happening here. I got to know about the state of kidnapping during the Council of states meeting where it was said that it was becoming a worrisome situation.

*Ibrahim, a public commentator writes from Jos.