Sep 27, 2009

Nigerians Lack Fire Safety Consciousness

The past few months in Plateau State recorded incidences of fire outbreaks during which possessions acquired over years of hard work and sacrifice perished. The frequency of fire outbreaks is usually higher during the dry and windy seasons of the year. As the dry seasons draws nearer, we approached the Plateau State Director of Fire Service, Michael Pam Dung at his office along the Bukuru express way to find out about their plans towards preventing fire accidents in the coming dry season.

Mr. Dung explained that a reasonable degree of prevention of fire outbreaks can be achieved if the fire service has its operations improved upon to a professional standard. This is usually achieved with a good manpower base that is properly trained and welled equipped. The public must also be adequately educated to understand that the fire service knows there is a fire outbreak only when it is informed through phone calls or other efficient means of communication. Majority of the public, he says are ignorant that fire fighting as undertaken by his organization is free. As a result they sometimes prefer to put out fires on their own using manual approaches with all its shortcomings.

One problem his organization has often faced is the problem of chaotic development of residential areas that has often led to the inability of his organization to put out fires as a result of the unavailability of in-roads.

Mr. Dung said that Nigeria is a country where emphasis has often been placed on security consciousness but not on safety consciousness. Safety consciousness however, ensures prevention. He noted that most fire accidents would have been avoided but the lack of a culture of safety consciousness has been responsible for our inability to prevent them leading to lost of lives and belongings. He said that the national fire code is underway and it is hoped that its final passage into law would ensure the enforcement of crucial fire regulations. When that happens he says he is sure the frequency of fire accidents will reduce.

The Plateau State Government according to Dung is now determined to overcome some of the difficulties of the Plateau State Fire Service. More persons have been recruited into the service. An ambulance has also been purchased to help them in their rescue operations for victims of fire accidents. As at the time of granting this interview, Dung said that some equipments have been ordered and are being expected at the end of the week.

Dung called on private organizations to take up the responsibility of sponsoring radio and television programs aimed at creating awareness, as doing so will go a long way towards ensuring they arrive fire accidents sites as quickly as possible. Such forums will also serve as channels for educating the public on fire safety consciousness and its significance.

On the optimal use of Hadejia-Jama’are-Kamadugu-Yobe River Basin

The River Dilimi with its catchment on the Jos Plateau stretches through five other states in the northern part of Nigeria where it is variously known as Hadejia, Jama’are, Kamadugu and Yobe River. These five other states include Jigawa, Kano, Yobe, Borno and Bauchi. The river thus supports economic and domestic activities among hundreds of thousands of Nigerians.
Growing challenges resulting from population explosions and the consequent desire for economic activities to support the increasing population has further played up the significance of the river in the various states. This is also coming at a time when the nation’s authorities have devolved powers for generating electricity to the state governments. Some states could thus be considering building water barrier dams across the basin with the intention of generating hydro-electric energy. When this happens, the communities downstream would be prevented from getting access to the water anymore. Already the decision of the Bauchi State Government to build a dam across the basin at Keffin Madaki has resulted in a showdown between the state and the other four, downstream.

The world is indeed a small place. A Plateau man travelling upwards to the northern part of the country may fail to realize that the high velocity and explosive Hadejia River he sees at Kano and Jigawa is the slow and gentle river Dilimi he apparently left behind in Jos. It would be the reason why the river had become his refuse dump resulting in the people suffering all manner of water borne infections downstream as a result of his abuse of the river. At this time of dire need of additional megawatts of electricity, he may also be tempted to build a dam and broaden the irrigation opportunities of his brethren. These considerations informed the hosting of a capacity building workshop for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) which was held at CRUDAN office at Sabon Barki in Jos-south Plateau State.

According to Sam Ishaya, the focal contact person for the Hadejia-Jama’are-Kamadugu-Yobe River Basin project for Plateau State, the aim of the capacity building for the CSOs is for them to in turn train communities with stakes in the river to play strategic and key roles in determining how the water resource is governed and where development project will be carried out, in a more transparent, environmentally friendly, cost effective and efficient manner. Already, there are the Fida, Chalawa and Hadejia dams along the basin. The sensitization will among other things teach approaches by which the demerits of these dams can be minimized as much as possible in addition to ensuring that additional dams are not built. The workshop thus has dam impacts within the basin, policy frameworks of the world commission on dams and water and energy policy advocacy as topics to be addressed during the workshop.

Sep 12, 2009

The Delimma of Jassawas of Jos

At the casualty unit of the Jos University Teaching Hospital, JUTH, Abdulrazak a Yoruba did not look like the victim of the Jos crisis of November 28, 2008. Following the unusually high number of casualty cases, hospital bed spaces could not meet the demand. Thus the beds were reserved only for the critical cases. Abdulrazk and his younger sibling looked like visitors as they sat on top of the wards’ cupboard for patient’s paraphernalia. The two reside in the Hausa quarters of Rikkos in Jos-North. On the morning following the elections, some Hausa youths launched an attack on a Miango Quarters of Rikkos killing the men and throwing the remaining members of the families out of their houses. The houses were then set ablaze. The Yorubas who happened to live with the Hausas by virtue of Islamic brotherhood could not sleep. They were certain the Miango boys would launch a revenge attack. The Miango boys came some twenty-four hours later. They were according to Abdulrazak, little boys who drew their valor form the heavy weapons with which they were armed. All pleas fell on deaf ears. they later discovered themselves at the casualty unit of JUTH. JUTH, Plateau Hospital, ECWA Evangel Hospital and other auxiliary medical centers became a rendezvous of the living and the death from the different suburbs of the city were ferocious attacks followed the local polls of December 27.

In the terminal years of General Ibrahim Babangida, who ruled Nigerian between 1985 and 1993, Jos-North was created out of Jos Local Government Area (LGA) leaving the remainder as Jos-South. The northern portion happened to be the pearl and pride of the whole of Plateau State, which also included Nassarawa state at the time. The Berom were the predominant indigenous tribe of Jos LGA. The division of the Jos now left only a handful and helpless remnant of the Berom tribe in Jos-North. The other indigenes of Jos-North were the Jarawas and the Anagutas. When all ethnic groups of Nigeria residing in Jos-North are taken into account however, the Hausas who now started calling themselves the Jasawas (Josites) make up the largest ethnic group.

History of Crisis

The first Hausa man to be appointed the Administrator of Jos-North is Samaila Mohammed now representing Jos-North and Bassa LGAs at the House of Representatives in Abuja. He held the postion between 1990 and 1992. In 1994 Col. Mohammed Mana Governor of the state appointed late Aminu Mato as the Administrator of the LGA. It resulted in the first Jos ethno-religious crisis.

On September 2001 Governor Joshua Dariye tried to appoint a Hausa man as the state’s coordinator of the National Poverty Alleviation Programme (NAPEP). There were protests by indigenous tribes leading to the reversal of the decision by the Governor. Six days later fighting broke out between the Hausas and the indigenes. It was one of the worst crises ever witnessed in the history of not just Plateau State but the whole nation. Thousands of people died and any progress made in ethnic and religious relations were shattered.

The 2001 crisis in the city of Jos lasted for just three days. The result of the fight however created ripple effects that traveled across the state. The crisis lingered in the form of occasional attacks between the Moslems and the Christians in the different localities across the state. In May, it blew up so severely in the town of Yelwa in Shendam LGA in the south of the state.

Who is an Indigene in Jos-North?

The Yelwa crisis compelled the President, Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo to declare a state of emergency in Plateau State. An Administrator appointed by the President replaced the democratically elected Governor of the state Chief Joshua Dariye. During the period of emergency, a peace conference was held and attended by all ethnic groups of Nigeria that are well represented in the state. There were also delegates from social groups, NGOs and trade unions. At the end of the conference, it was agreed that the only indigenous tribes of Jos-North LGA are the Berom, Jarawas and the Anagutas. With the exception of the Hausas, Nigerian Bar Association, Nigerian Labour Congress and Jama’atu Nasril Islam (an Islamic NGO), all participants endorsed this resolution of the conference.

The Jasawas and the Federal Character

Appointments to fill vacancies in federal ministries, parastatals, and agencies, military and paramilitary organizations are based on the principles of the Federal Character Commission. The Commission allocates job quotas to the thirty-six states of Nigeran and Abuja. The state quotas are in turn shared among the local governments of the state. As long as the Jasawas are not recognized as indigenes of Jos-North, i they don’t stand the chance of getting appointed into these federal organizations. What the indigenes of Jos-North fear is an obvious fact that should the Hausas become citizens they would dominate the quotas available to Jos-North.

How the Hausas Win Elections in Jos-North

It is needless to stress that politics in Nigeria as a whole follow religious and ethnic paths. Of the twenty electoral wards of Jos-North, seven are strongholds of the Jasawas. The remaining thirteen are strongholds of the Christians. Whenever the Jasawas are able to strike a deal with a tribe that is well represented in Jos-North it helpls them to win elections, The Irigwe people make up the second largest ethnic group in Jos-North. In 1996 the Jasawas had a power sharing deal with the Irigwes. It yielded a beautiful dividend as the Jasawas won the set up a government in the LGA. After the 2001 crisis all indigenous tribes became jittery of any political deal with the Jasawas.

Finangwai Dreams Big for Plateau State

Dr Hosea Finangwai. Source Dr Finangwai There is that saying that “the things that people desperately seek are always with them.” If ...