THE Plateau State government on Tuesday handed over 32 missionary schools to their original owners, as it marks Plateau day and forgiveness day.
Gov Simon Lalong speaking while handing over the schools in Rwang Pam Stadium Jos said that the action was taken to fulfil his promise and appreciate faith-based organisations for their critical role in the development of the state.
The governor also unveiled the new state anthem, logo and other symbols, saying that the action was part of his administration’s effort to create a solid identity for the Plateau people, especially the younger generation.
“In marking 47 years of our existence as a state, we want to create a solid identity and sense of pride in our upcoming generation so as to ginger them towards patriotic service,” he said.
He urged schools in the state to comply with its directives of reciting the anthem after the national anthem, to enable them to get acquainted with it.
He said that forgiveness and reconciliation day was conceived in 2018, as part of efforts to foster harmonious coexistence among different groups in the state.
He acknowledged the support of traditional, religious and community leaders in changing the negative narrative of Plateau, which he noted stunted its development.
Lalong expressed delight that the forgiveness and reconciliation day was yielding results and serving as a model to other states.
“Triggers for violence have also been deflated through dialogue, understanding and tolerance,” he said.
He said that the age-long mutual distrust between people of different ethnoreligious backgrounds had been reduced to the barest minimum, through the establishment of the Plateau Peace Building Agency and the Inter-Religious Council.
He condemned the use of social media by crisis merchants and politicians to instigate violence and cautioned against such act as the 2023 elections intensify.
“Let us always remember that without peace, there will not even be elections or the positions we seek to occupy,” he said.
The governor also unveiled the Gazette on the creation of Districts and Chiefdoms.
Responding on behalf of the school owners, the Archbishop of Jos Diocese, Most Rev. Mathew Audu thanked the governor for returning faith-based schools to their original owners.
He said that renewed efforts on education and the inculcation of moral integrity would have a high impact on peacebuilding.
In his remarks, the Archbishop of Abuja Diocese, Most Rev. Ignatius Kaigama, lauded state and non-state actors on their contributions to peacebuilding in Plateau.
Kaigama, a former Archbishop of Jos Diocese, said that he founded the Dialogue, Reconciliation and Peace Centre, Jos, to promote peaceful coexistence among groups in the state, urging Plateau people to bury their hatchets for its progress.
Also speaking at the event, a former Military Administrator of Plateau, Gen. Lawrence Onoja (retd.), said that equity and fairness were critical for sustainable peace, adding that inclusive governance could quell agitations.
The News Agency of Nigeria, reports that dignitaries at the event also included the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Sa’ad III; the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero and Emir of Askira, Alhaji Abdullahi Ibn Askirama II, among others.
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