Four Wheel Drive: How World Peace Can Drive Football Vehicle into Troubled Jos

Suddenly, my eyes opened wild as I saw lots of people running from Mushin down the road to Oshodi. It reminded me of the Jos violent breakout in 2009. And if you’ve not seen a holy war before, then you do not understand what peace means. Only few that saw it lived to tell the story.

Indeed, it was a marathon of life. People running for days without stop, running to no where in particular. And in running to save their lives, many had met with death on their way. Slaughtered in cold blood and bodies of human beings littered the road like some pieces of cow meat slaughtered for sale at the abettor.

You may not understand what has gone wrong with Jos. What has awakened the spirit of violent that now possessed the people in such magnitude? And now and then, with the slightest provocation arises another massive killing and destruction of lives and properties.

Come to think of it, just back in the 90s, Jos was already a tourist Mecca, attracting lots of tourists and foreign expatriates who are running away from the harsh sunburn of Abuja and Bauchi.

And driving into Jos that morning, for the first time in June 1996, I felt the weather, a chilling into my bones that reminded me of the first time our airplane landed at George Kennedy airport during the winter of 1991. I quickly went for my sweater. Jos has a unique weather that’s so different from those in any part of Nigeria. It can go as low as 8 degrees centurions when the close neighbor, Bauchi is as high as 32 degrees centurions. That’s perhaps the first thing you will observe about Jos.

Coming in through Lafia, you could look ahead and see the Mist falling down Shere Hills, with fat flocks grazing on the lush green fields. You would fall in love with Jos at first sight! You may even get obsessed when you visit Kura waterfall, Mando Tourist Village or wild Life Park or maybe, the museum of traditional architecture. I’ve never seen any place with such natural beauty as Jos.

The climate and the calm-quite serene make Jos a natural peaceful land. And nothing artificial beats the natural way. It’s true! The violence in Jos is very artificial. Moving around the city then, you could see simple people and happy faces so ready to hand over hospitality to you. Children played football on the streets and village fields. Perhaps, the only time the peace of Jos was disrupted was when the only professional division one football club, Plateau United, was playing a league match. You could hear the cheer of the energetic crowd from a very far distance. The city roar anytime their darling football club scored a goal.

Football is a strong uniting factor in Jos. People could sit together and enjoy the game despite their different beliefs and tribal divides. You see the game of football went down in Jos and some evil men to imbibe the terrorist orientation misguided the youths. And many observers were of the opinion that many of Jos violence were fuelled by loads of unscrupulous youths imported from Niger Republic to cause mayhem on the land. Jos does not have a history of Jihad.

It’s easy to restore peace in Jos. Football can get attention of the people as well as bring them together for lasting reconciliation.

Four Ways Football could Drive Peace into Jos

1.     Orientation During Football Matches: The world peace initiative, National Orientation Agency and Nigeria Sports Commission should come together to work out strategies to use Nigeria Premier League games, as occasion to give the people orientation on the need for peaceful co-existence; especially when Plateau United is playing. You can get the people’s full attention.

“Hope for Peace” football games should be organized in Jos, where Nigeria and other well known football stars in the world can come to Jos and play.

2.     Share Football Relief Materials: A well appreciated football Icon such as Mikel Obi, Osaze Odewingie or perhaps Nwankwo Kanu may be employed to visit the trouble spots in Jos and Share free football wares such as Balls, Jerseys, Track suites, Boots etc. Grassroots clubs should benefit more. The player will address the people himself on the need for peace in the land.

There should be “Hope for Peace” inscriptions on the relief materials back up with strong advertising messages on Billboards, Radio and Television. The cost can never be too much for peace; we should be able to pay the price.

3.    Start Youth Football Development Programs: The energy of the Youths should be re-directed to sports and other productive activities. Government agencies, NGOs and Corporate Organizations should be part of the peacekeeping Mission. Football and other sporting facilities such as mega stadium complex and parks, where the youths could go to participate in football training, should be built.

Football Academies and grassroots tournaments should be developed and sponsored to draw the interest of the youth. For instance, a youth football player will not like to participate in riotous destruction if he remembers the tournament in progress that he would be playing.

4.     Promise “Big Matches”: Promise Jos Big matches if they maintain peace in the land. Take some of Super Eagles match to Jos. Take FA Cup finals or Shell cup or some WAFU or CAF games to Jos. Let the people feel what they will continue to enjoy if they maintain peace in the land.

We should give Jos a sense of security to protect their land and not allow intruders to come in to disrupt the peace in the land.

As simple as the “four wheel drive” may sound, it may just be what Jos needed to revive lasting peace in the land. They’re simple solutions to a rather complex situation in Jos or what do you think. Let us know your suggestions and comments regarding restoring peace in Jos and other troubled spots in the world. Comment below.

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