Following the Jos Crisis of 2010, President Goodluck Jonathan who was acting at the time, set up the Solomon Lar’s Commission and vowed that he would implement the report of the commission, contrary to the attitude of the government on previous report on he Jos crisis. Goodluck Jonathan did not however live up to his promise as the report of the commission was thrown to the junk basket once again. The resurgence of fighting sometimes in August this year has compelled the President to again request for the report and others in the past with a view to harmonizing them and implementing them this time.
Former Nigerian Ambassador to Switzerland, Yahaya Kwande is an indigene of Plateau State and who was also a member of the Solomon Lar’s Commission. He was asked recently by the Hausa Service of the German Radio International what essentially is the recommendation of the report. His answers was that the report essentially recommends that certain people who are treated as non-indigenes despite having stayed in Plateau State for decades should be embraced and treated as such.
His response to the question raises one issue and that is the fact that even though the Nigerian statutes demand that a citizen shall become an indigene of a locality other than the state of his ancestral home after staying there for a given period of time, this requirement of the constitution is not adhered to generally in Nigeria, not just in Plateau State. Thus the panel should have suggested that the federal government should revisit the issue with the aim of ensuring that the relevant section of the constitution is respected across the whole length and breath of the country rather than in Plateau State alone.
Ironically, Plateau State is one single state that has respected this angle of the constitution more than many other states in Nigeria. For instance, Wase and Kanam Local Governments of Plateau State are two conspicuous local governments were migrant Hausas and Fulanis are treated equally with all other tribes of the state. In Jos North Local Government of the state, the Hausas are the predominant tribe in eight wards out of a total of twenty one from where they produce representatives to the local council of Jos North. They also send members to the State and National Assemblies from the same local government. In contrast to Wase and Kanam Local Governments Areas however, the metropolitan nature of Jos North, where people looking for better economic opportunities keep coming every single day, makes it difficult differentiate between visiting Hausas and those that have stayed long enough to deserve citizenship.
There are thousands of Plateau indigenes in Lagos, Rivers, Kano, Kaduna and many other parts o the country that have stayed in those localities for decades without becoming indigenes. Likewise, there are tens of thousands of Yorubas, Ibos, Tivs, Ibibios, Ijaws, etc in other states of the federation other than those of their ancestors, who are not treated as indigenes despite staying there for hundreds of years. The Jos crisis should rather serve to remind the Nigerian authorities of the need to revisit the issue across board and not just on the Plateau.