Jos Christian community gets special recognition for shielding Muslims during EndSARS violence

On 20th October, 2020, violence broke out in Jos, the capital of Plateau State, following weeks of protests by youths demanding the dissolution of the Federal Police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).

At least three people were killed and two worship centers burnt, but somewhere in Gyel, a completely Christian community in Jos South Local Government Area, locals shielded 13 Muslim youths until tensions subsided, and officially handed them to their leaders in Bukuru.

Touched by this, the Plateau State Peace Building Agency says it is planning a special honor for the community.

“This is a rare act of honor,” said the Director General of the Agency, Mr. Joseph Lengman on Monday, during a visit to the District Head of Gyel, Da. Dr. Nga Dangyang.

What happened in Gyel district is exemplary, said Mr. Lengmang. In the past, he said, “When misunderstanding occurs between Christians and Muslims in Plateau State, you’d only hear of bloodshed but what happened here is encouraging.

“For you to shield those 13 that got a place to stay in Gyel shows we have learned from our mistakes in the past. It is a new chapter that we have opened for peace in this state and the Governor is impressed with it.

“Three years ago in Gashish, an Islamic Cleric, Sheikh Abdullahi did same. For it to happen again shows we are evolving. People are ready to even lay their lives for others, including erstwhile enemies.”

There is nothing greater than peace, added Barr. Auwal Abdullahi, the Executive Secretary, Muslims Pilgrims Welfare Board, Jos.

Barr. Auwal Abdullahi and Mr. Joseph Lengmang

“Without peace, we can’t carry out our daily businesses. Even religious exercises we can’t carry them out, and that is why this rare act of kindness by Gyel Community is worth celebrating,” said the Pilgrims Official.

The Leader of Lyoh-Gyel Community, Mr. Gyang Jatau Doji, in whose house the Muslim youths were shielded, said  he felt obligated to preserve life based on his Christian teaching and relationship with Muslims.

“Once upon a time I shielded some two Muslim kids when conflicts broke out in Kerana. Another time here in Gyel, when there was conflict, I did same. It is second nature for us. This is what our Christian faith teaches, to preserve and not take life. After all, I’ve related with Muslims a lot. The man that first gave me ticket to Israel is a Muslim.”

The District Head of Gyel and Chairman, Jos South Traditional Council, Dr. Nga Dangyang blamed tribalism for the reoccurring violence in the State.

According to him, Christians and Muslims have more in common than their perceived differences.

“Islam and Christianity were brought to us by foreigners. Before then, we were all idol worshippers. Why then do we hate each other? Why can’t we coexist like before? Why can’t we break borders and restore that old mutual relationship?” he queried.

The Community Leader of Bukuru, Chindo Abdullahi, Chairman of Berom Youth Movement in Gyel, Mr. Chomo Emershal, that of Berom Cultural and Educational Organization, Mr. Yohanna Jok, and a Women leader, Mrs. Naomi Yohanna called for an end to drug abuse, kidnapping and farmland destructions to further peace and harmonious coexistence in the State.

Widely called illiterate, these labourers known as "Yan Dako" in Hausa have businesses employing graduates

Central Nigeria: Perhaps, dirty and low-class is the work of a porter – a person who carries loads for a fee, especially in a market. However, in Plateau State, this set of labourers, “illiterate” as they are widely perceived, are among the wealthiest in society.

Never ashamed of their hustle, the labourers, called “Yan Dako” in Hausa, put on their dirty clothes every business day, carry load for others, get paid and invest. Today, some of them own massive investments that employ graduates.

Mr. Joshua Danlami, a Porter for 30 years, owns a hospital, shopping mall, 15,000 bird capacity poultry farm, two storey buildings, bungalows and six trailer trucks. He started as an apprentice from Primary School days, when his parents could not afford his books and uniform, despite being a public school.

“Each time I closed from school, I came to the market to learn. Soon, I started work on my own and today I can say I have made it from this work,” he said.

Joshua dropped out of school at the Primary level, but now has over 40 paid staff, graduates included, in his establishments. Some of his apartments are rented by post-graduate certificate holders, most of whom likely spite or underrate his work.

Another Porter, Alhaji Safiyanu Tukum, owns a filling station and 20 trailer trucks, in addition to multimillion naira businesses, with over 100 paid staff, graduates included. He too dropped out of school at a tender age to start porting. He was spited and rejected among his peers, most of whom now go to him to seek jobs for their children.

Mr. Mambok Ahmed, the current Treasurer of the Porters Union in Bokkos owns two trucks, but is a net exporter of agricultural produce. “We get contracts from foreign countries to supply goods worth hundreds of millions,” he said. Mambok has stood in elections twice and lost, but to another fellow in the porting business.

Hon. Useini Amurudu, the man who beat him in the last elections to emerge member representing Bokkos Constituency in the Plateau State House of Assembly was a porter for many years. Two other Porters are currently holding active positions in the Bokkos Local Government Legislative Council.

“Our work is widely perceived to be dirty, but for us, it’s a source of wealth. Many people including graduates have come here and found food for their families and money for further education. Some of us here have also gone to school from the money they got from the work,” said Mr. Danlami Adamu, the Chairman, Sassabiya (porters) association, Bokkos LGA.

Without money, one cannot claim high class, said national President of the loaders union, Alhaji Hamza Abdullahi. “We wear our dirty clothes at noon and in the evening we wear clean clothes, with our pockets full,” he said.

The porters in Bokkos last week launched a one storey shopping complex they built from personal contributions. It’s one of many achievements by the group which is clearly determined to do more.The multimillion naira complex has office, shopping and banking spaces for use by members and nonmembers.

From Lawyer to passionate baker, Ochanya, 26, has definitely found a new gold

Ochanya Jessica, CEO, Cakes by Och

Ochanya Jessicah Agbo, 25, a top entrepreneur in Central Nigeria’s Plateau State is inestimably breaking grounds with her new found love – baking.

She is a certified lawyer, with with outstanding records, from both the University of Jos where she had her undergraduate studies, to the Nigerian Law School Kano where she received her Professional training and induction, and as a practicing lawyer.

As an undergraduate, in 2012, Ochanya ventured into baking, just to have extra income and support her widowed Professor mother. This she continued even after graduating and moving into full legal practice in 2015. However, by 2018, what started as a hobby and “extra” income source had bloomed into unquenchable passion.

“I enjoyed creating beautiful pieces and putting smiles on people’s faces. Soon, I discovered that running my business made me really happy,” she said.

The fifth of six siblings started a rare brand of cakes – Cakes-by-Och from that time, and has created top-rated entrepreneurs with she herself creating jobs and inspiring thousands to rise above limitations and be financially free.

“For now I’m focused on growing my business. It’s not just about being a Baker anylonger. I want to grow as an entrepreneur,” she said, casting a bleak future for her law practice.

“Entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone but don’t be idle, and don’t depend on your certificate if it’s not paying your bills,” she advised young Professionals like her.

Ochanya, a native of Ohimini Local Government Area in Benue State, born and raised in Jos, is one of the few entrepreneurs changing the popular civil service image of Plateau State, which is thought to be unfavourable for business.

Her ideas, often sourced from relating with the human environment put her out among equals, earning her thousands of dollars, even as a single lady.

Perhaps, if everyone would explore their extra senses and create simple solutions to human problems like her, instead of depending on others for survival, Nigeria wouldn’t be grappling with over 40% poverty rate, and a second recession in five years.

Findings link the increasing crime rate in Nigeria to poverty, which is partly induced by citizens’ over-reliance on paid jobs.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2016 called the country’s youths lazy, and is still being lashed for it, yet, increasingly, youths in the country are decreasing in productivity, and will to change.

The recent EndSARS protests suggest a turn-around. However, observers say even if youths takeover power from the present class of leaders, without a deliberate plan to improve their lives through innovation, it will be politics as usual.

After being robbed the week he quit job for business, Plateau's Haggai Gutap earns UK honor

Mr. Haggai Gutap, left, gets National Productivity Order of Merit award, Thursday in Abuja

Jos, Plateau State: Mr. Haggai Gutap, a Nigerian business expert listed for international honors at the London Graduate School and Common Wealth University both in United Kingdom, next month, may have had it rough at the start of his career.

Gutap is the founder and Chief Executive Officer, Fingertips Enterprise Development Partners International Limited (FEDPIL), a global business training and consulting firm. He was hired in 2016 by Plateau State Government to manage its microfinance development agency, churning out thousands of globally reputed small and medium scale enterprises eversince.

A major setback at the tender stage of his business career nearly ripped him of his self-esteem, focus and will to survive, but he pressed on, becoming one of Nigeria’s major business exports.

In his words, “I had difficulties balancing my vision with the vision of the organizations I worked for. I had plans to be a successful entrepreneur but the environment was not conducive to practice my crazy thoughts and vision.

“Along the line I had to take though decisions to start my business. At that time, I started from zero. The week I resigned my appointment, I was robbed and I lost virtually everything, including my car but I went ahead and today the firm I started is in over six states of Nigeria and our vision is to raise a crop of workforce that is globally competitive.”

Haggai Gutap

Gutap has since childhood been result driven. He hates self-pity and laziness. He hails from a poor farming village in Plateau State’s Mangu Local Government Area, and anything that seeks to keep him where he was the previous day is enemy.

“I always cherish efficiency in anything I am doing. I love impacting on people’s lives and continuous self-development. At work, I always want to ensure that honesty, transparency, adherence to time and commitment are highly observed. Anyone whose superiors or subordinates cannot trust will soon close shop,” he said.

His greatest inspiration has always been the quest to solve human problems and improve life in communities through creative thinking. This is a result of past experiences and constant association with “people of substance – something I can always learn from”, he says.

His nomination for the London honors is a great challenge as according to him, “it shows for every step I take, the society watches and evaluates my impact,” but at again, it is a call to more innovation, dedication to duty and focus on results, he said.

When he assumed work as Director General, Plateau State Microfinance Development Agency, he keyed into the vision of the rescue mission administration of Governor, Dr. Simon Bako Lalong.

Here, Gutap designed and executed programs for skills acquisition in various trades, Entrepreneurship and financial literacy, coaching and Mentoring services for MSMEs, as well as special support to outstanding MSMES in the state through grants.

He equally helped in the domestication of the presidential initiative of ease of doing business, making the State first to set up a One-Stop-Shop for the registration of all kinds of businesses.

Through this, the State has produced outstanding MSMEs that are now employers of Labour. This perhaps explains why he was on Thursday given a Presidential National Productivity Order of Merit award, in addition to next months international honors.

Despite that, Gutap tells us, “Continuous self-development, commitment to higher responsibilities and openness to new ideas and innovations are a must for me.” He advised fellow youths to be consistent in their pursuits, working for “results not money”, and always seeking personal growth.

Football: Governor's surprise visit to training players attracts new Turkish jerseys

Central Nigeria: Barely 48hrs after Governor Simon Lalong made a surprise appearance at Plateau United Football Club's training ground in Jos, Turkish manufacturers have delivered new set of jerseys to the team. 

The Turkish manufacturing firm, Kapspor, had signed a contract to deliver jerseys ahead of the team's CAF Champions League appearance.

On Wednesday, Governor Simon Lalong visited the team during their training session at Zaria road stadium, to charge them to victory in their preliminary match on Sunday against Simba of Tanzania in Jos.

Club Officials told the Governor about the delay in the arrival of jerseys and on Thursday, the consignment arrived.

General Manager of the club, Pius Henwan attributes the development to the Governor's "love and passion" for the team. 

Kapspor is kitting the Plateau United FC for the second time having signiled a two-year contract.

The new kits will be launched on Saturday alongside new players, Officials say.

Social movements better with defined communication platforms - Plateau IT pointsman

David Daser

A Nigerian internet expert, Mr. Oluwadaser David says social movements are more effective with unified communication options.

A dedicated platform for information sharing on social media, Daser says builds security and trust for members of a movement.

"There is a need to have an identified source of information, as communication among social movements can be effect through social media which will help foster the achievement of goals," said Daser, the Director General, Plateau State Information Communication Technology Development Agency (PICTDA) at a recent chat on "social movements and the use of social media for social impact, organized by SMSGAfrica, in Jos, Plateau State.

Social media is a game changer for social movements, providing open and participatory communication options, said Mr. Teyei Joel, another discussant at the event.

The platform, a broadcast Journalist, Ponfa Fanap said should be regulated, but only through "technology companies".

Adding, Ms. Maryam Mohammed advised admins of social media groups to regulate information flow in their groups.

Founder of Tomruk iHub Multiverse, Mr. Job David Ayuba advised government to design programs to enlighten citizens on responsible social media use.

Jos mother dies on hearing of only son's murder

Mrs. Theresa Yohanna Bwai, 52, a diabetic patient for over ten years, last Wednesday, died of cardiac arrest, after receiving the tragic news of her only son’s death.

Mr. Bwehfa Isaac Yohanna Bwai, 22, was born to Theresa and her husband, Yohanna Bwai, after about ten years of childlessness. The couple never had another child till she went blind from a condition Doctors link to her prolonged diabetes treatment.

In Ron, a tribe in Bokkos Local Government Area of Plateau State, fondly called Chala, a local greeting, Bwehfa means “God gives”. The boy was a source of joy, and a treasure that the couple would give their all for.

Due to her condition, Theresa had no job. Her husband, a federal civil servant retired a few months ago. Bwehfa, a Second year undergraduate student of National Film Institute Jos, had projected to care for them soon as he started earning after graduating. He had taken to music and photography to complement his parents’ income as he pursued his career in film production. But Wednesday was his last day on Earth. 

“He left home for school in the morning and unlike him, by 6pm he wasn’t home yet. We tried to reach him on the phone but could not, then shortly later we were alerted to his corpse in the neighborhood,” said a relation.

Bwehfa was peaceful and fun to be with, said a neighbor, in ECWA Staff Community along Zaria road, Jos, but why would anyone kill him? Police suspect he was attacked by violent cult gangs.

Perhaps, being in the performing arts, he’d been approached by a gang in the neighborhood to sign up as a member, but he declined. It is also likely that he had clashes with a member on stage, at school, in the street or just anywhere, over power, a girlfriend, anything… Chances also that he was associated with a rival gang.

Be that as it may, the testimonies about him were positive when he was buried right next to his mother yesterday, in Daffo, Bokkos LGA. Furthermore, no direct links have been confirmed between him and cult groups.

Cult Activities in Jos

Cult related violence has worsened in the last one decade in some Northern suburbs of Jos, the capital of Plateau State. The latest of such attacks is the last three weeks’ murder of an artisan in Rayfield, in Jos South, by suspected cult members from a northern suburb, and last two weeks’ murder of a male hairstylist in Hwolshe, also in Jos South, by suspected cult members from a northern suburb. Bwehfa’s murder, last week suggests serial murder, taking place after each week. 

Why the attacks however, no one knows, at least just yet. Securities are still investigating, but even if they find links to any cult groups, it might be difficult to arrest them, given their reported high firepower.

Special Task Force operatives however last week paraded over a dozen suspected cultists, mostly without any exhibits, an important variable in securing conviction.

Northern Pastors award Muslims, others fighting for justice in Nigeria

A Northern Nigerian group, Arewa Christians and Indigenous Pastors Association (ACIPA), headquartered in Jos, Plateau State, has awarded five Muslims for “courage and resilience” in defending peace and justice.

Mr. Ahmed Wakili, a Muslim BBC Reporter from Nigeria and a Jos based radio station owned by a Muslim Politician – Unity FM, were listed for the media awards while the Deputy Speaker of the Nigerian House of Reps, Mr. Idris Wase, and a Plateau Monarch, Mohammed Sambo appeared in the “special merit” category. Col. Dahiru Bako, a deceased Muslim Officer of the Nigerian Army was listed among posthumous award recepients.

ACIPA has previously awarded a popular Muslim singer, Mr. Danmaraya Jos, a philanthropist, Mr. Tanko Yakasai and a military Officer, Col. A.I. Mohammed.

Plateau State has for over two decades faced violent clashes between Christians and Muslims. The African Center for Strategic Studies says 60,000 people have died in the conflicts since 2001, nearly twice the number of people killed by Boko Haram terrorists. The conflicts have created segregation and mutual suspicion amongst citizens, which appears to reflect in their social and political choices.

ACIPA, likely the first Nigerian Christian organization to list Muslims for awards is setting a record for peace, unity and development, said a Plateau Monarch, Mr. Isaac Wakili at the award ceremony in Jos, Sunday.

“We shall arise as a united peace loving people after we have defeated religious intolerance, insecurity, poverty and all forms of challenges to life,” said Wakili, the Chief of a Jos northeastern tribe, Afizere.

The group exists to unite Nigerians from all religions to solve the country’s socioeconomic problems, said a Trustee, Rev. Justin La-nibett-le. “Many things are wrong in Nigeria. Divisions will only worsen them. We need unity to fix this country,” he said.

Future editions of the awards will include more people from the predominantly Muslim Northern Nigeria, said ACIPA President, Rev. Shehu Luke. “We are poised to be salt and light of the world as catalyst for Love, Peace, Reconciliation, Unity and Development,” said Shehu.

Other award recepients were Masara Kim Usman, MKB Publisher recently intorrogated by Police and the Department of State Services (DSS) over an investigative security news report he published, as well as a female Voice of America Reporter, Zainab Babaji. 

Former Speaker of the Nigerian House of Reps, Yakubub Dogara, an electoral Official, Mr. Nentawe Gosheve and philanthropists Kim De Montaxel and Sutu Jatau were awarded in the distinguished merit category along with a former Ministry of Water Resources, Mrs. Sarah Ochekpe. Retired Major General Andrew Audu, Air Cmdr Ruth Garba and Mr. Nawani Aboki also appeared in that category.

In the posthumous category, Mr. Paul Bassi, and Philip Usman were listed alongside Wakili as Channels TV, NTA Jos, and Jay FM Jos got the media awards along with Unity FM.