Jos the Plateau State Capital has witnessed sectarian violence and for more than a decade has put the state in the headlines on both local and
international media for all the
The widely acclaimed “Home of Peace and Tourism”, had its peace punctured by series of ethno-religious unrest, wanton destruction of lives and property held sway as these ugly incidences lasted.
Homes and places of worship were torched and razed down to the ground.
Also, innocent people were hounded, hacked to death or maimed on account of belonging to a particular faith.
The antics and tactics always employed by the arsonists’,
rioters and mercenaries during the Jos crisis had suggested that the skirmishes have some religious/political undertone.
Ever since the eruption of violence in the Tin City, the Federal, State, and other relevant security agencies had put in untiring efforts to ensure that peace and the spirit of brotherliness that was once the hallmark of the State was restored.
Religious bodies, civil society groups, as well as public spirited personalities have been actively involved in bringing back the lost
glory of the State.
However, the three phenomena of poverty, crime and life, are what stare you directly when you make your way into Kabong, Jenta Adamu/Mangoro which are densely populated neighbourhoods in Jos North, LGA of the State.
These aforementioned communities delineated under Jos West Constituency and share boundary with each other.
Kabong is a Berom word and it translates to a place where the Berom first settled, according to Senior Ward Head, Nyam Maurice.
It used to be very filthy, unmotorable and unsuitable for decent habitation since Jos existed as a city and capital.
But the giant infrastructural strides undertaken by the immediate past Governor of the State, Senator Jonah Jang, gave the major road to Kabong a facelift.
Despite this transformation, nothing much has changed as far as the standard of living, security and decent livelihood of the people is concerned.
The areas are residential as well as commercial, characterised by mostly shanties.
Beer parlours, taverns, shops, food canteens and hawkers of assorted goods, throng the entire stretch of the streets in the areas.
Paricular at the entrance of Kabong, are commercial motorcycles waiting and competing for the next available passenger to ferry into the neighbourhood.
The congestion and overpopulation makes a stranger to the area unable to differentiate between a commercial apartment and a residential apartment.
They are so intermixed with scarce spaces for people to move freely. The road is so congested with human and vehicular traffic, that makes one quite uncomfortable.
These communities are a classic case study of poverty and deprivation as has always been imagined in most public fora in Nigeria and abroad.
Most beer parlours which intersperse one another are without decent toilets.
Therefore, it is normal to see customers, who are pressed after a deluge of beer, easing themselves openly on a free space within the vicinity, not minding who is watching or the time of the day.
Also, due to the lack of space, people usually match on urine and the stench that oozes around is so strong and disgusting.
Yet, in the mix, you have women who deal in edibles like noodles, peppersoup and assorted meat, without minding the smell. Business goes on as usual and the beer sellers and customers too are not disturbed by the filth and discomfort. You can only feel the discomfort if you are a new comer.
I tried to find out from certain customers their views about the filthy practice around and the reaction from some of them only showed they were already accustomed to the condition around.
A half drunk couple only laughed off my curiosity, “I don’t feel any smell”, the man quipped.
You dare not even think of getting a place to poopoo because there is none!
These communities are a metaphor of Fela’s favourite theme: “suffering and smiling”, because, inspite of the poor standard of living, the aforementioned communities are very lively, boisterous, and business like from the break of dawn to the late hours of the night.
Apart from the nuissance of open urination by customers, it is no secret that a greater percentage of the residents, whose premises are used for business, don’t have toilet facilities nor do they have water supply.
During the raining season, they depend on wells and rain water, while in the dry season, they depend on the river that passes through as well as water vendors.
They use the river water for washing of clothes, but many could have gone their way to use the water for other sensitive domestic uses which is quite unhygienic.
Apart from the poverty and lack, another phenomenon which is a major cause for concern in this area, is crime.
The type of crime is mostly perpetrated by the youth and might have been propped up by the level of poverty and unemployment there.
The riverside and ‘underbridge’ are a harbinger of drug peddlers and users.
Drugs such as cannabis and assorted psychotropic drugs are being sold there.
Of recent, there has been rising cases of cult and gang clashes in the area with occasioned loss of lives.
Also, members of the community have often complained of extortion at gun point by these miscreants who would do anything to get money to satisfy their craving and avoid the “Jones”.
A member of the community, Paul Ajik, said the that a gang once attempted to extort him of his phone, but when they recognised that he was a familiar face, they backed off and apologised instantly. But any other person may not be spared on that occasion.
As a result of several complaints by troubled residents, a detachment of special forces of the army once raided the area and arrested so many of those drug dealers.
Security operatives have also made it a routine operation to rid the place of hoodlums and miscreants.
But that also hasn’t solved the problem entirely as gunshots, gangfight and extortion still exist.
According to Nyam Maurice, a Senior Ward Head in Kabong, the community is working towards nipping the menace in the bud.
“We are working towards it and it is not something I can reveal to you now”, he disclosed.
He lamented that the increase in crime is due to the influx of people from other parts of the city who have found Kabong a safe refuge.
However, on the flip side of the negative story about these communities, is that of hospitality that is unmatched at least at that level.
These communities are inhabited by both natives and non natives of Plateau State and all these tribes co-exist and do business with one another like a family.
What matters in these communities is “hurstling” to survive, and not where you belong, says Nyam Maurice, the Senior Ward Head.
He attributed the uniqueness of Kabong to the fact that the residents are not lazy and priorize their survival over petty sentiments like ethnicity or religion.
“Hurstling contributes to it because nobody is sitting idle. When you are looking for your own, you don’t care about anybody”, he stated.
True to his words, a visit to the local liquor joints, one would observe the friendship, brotherhood and sisterhood that exist among people of different tribes.
He however complained of neglect of his community by government, attributing it to the fact that the community is in the opposition.
“Government is suppose to provide amenities but once you are not with the ruling party, nobody cares about you.
According to him, “They should keep politics apart and do the needful. Kabong in particular is very vast and if government should consider party loyalty, then we can never get it right”.
Meanwhile, apart from the assorted alcoholic drinks, both traditional and modern, mostly cheap and some fairly expensive, you have assorted meat and food to compliment at any time of the day and especially at night when it’s peak business period.
Delicacies like roasted and spiced pork, beef, mutton(goat meat), fish and dog meat (404), which is favourite for the Plateau man, are readily available and affordable.
Also speaking, another resident of the area who is popularly known as “Mama G” complained on the challenges her business is facing. “These days the market has gone down because of area boys who have driven customers away. People are afraid of entering Kabong.
“In the past, we use to have people from Farin Gada, Anglo-Jos and other parts of the city but now it is not the case. Government should help us.
“In the past I even have to settle those area boys with food and money”, she decried.
Meantime, Government through the Plateau Peace Building Agency, has set up machinery to stem the activities of cultists and gangsters within the Jos-Bukuru metropolis.
It is pertinent that relevant government agencies led by Governor Simon Lalong look into the plight of the communities and come to their aid by providing the necessary social amenities needed.
They say, “a stitch in time saves nine”.