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Relocating the Bukuru cattle market

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To underscore his commitment towards driving a pro-environment agenda, which is one of the pillars of his administration, Governor Mutfwang’s first official engagement on assumption of office was personally supervising the monthly environmental sanitation exercise which had lost steam before his advent.

At the time, the state’s once famous serenity, order and scenic beauty had been overtaken by mountains of rubbish and traders who had spilled from the shoulders onto the middle of major township roads.

Also, illegal motor parks had sprung up at the most unlikely public spaces while articulated vehicles, which tormented other city road users and caused fatal accidents that claimed lives and property of innocent commuters and other citizens within their homes, had a field day.

Thus, it was not a misplaced priority for government to beam its searchlights on these sectors. It was in the light of this that the state government moved to clear the Jos/Bukuru metropolis of illegal markets that had constituted serious hazards to the health of the people and the safety of the environment and went ahead to issue Executive Order 003 which regulated the movement of heavy trucks within the city centre and outlying areas.

In furtherance of that overall objective, the Jos Metropolitan Development Board, JMDB, issued a two-week ultimatum to traders at the Bukuru cattle market to relocate to alternative sites in the outskirts to make way for the construction of a stadium that has been in the works for many years.

But the traders have kicked against that decision. During a press conference on May 17, 2024, they contended that the new sites located at Gero and Sabongida were not safe for them considering the ethno-religious crisis that have characterized the state.

Their spokesman said, “The people of Bukuru still hold fresh in their minds the horror of the discoveries made by the Nigerian Army when they uncovered a shallow grave containing the remains of missing Maj. Gen. Idris Alkali (rtd), cattle vans, motorcycles, and other belongings of our members, which were found alongside the General’s car in a pond at Dura Du.

“We have not forgotten what happened at our former graveyard in Gero Community a few years back, when those attending burials were beaten, some killed, and corpses were exhumed and mutilated. These incidents are casting doubts in our minds as regards our safety if we relocated to the mentioned areas.”

They appealed to the state government to rescind its decision and allow them continue their business in the present location.

It is rather unfortunate that the traders are whipping up ethnic and religious sentiments over an issue that has to do with the overall development and health of society.

At a time when the state government, Christian/Muslim religious and traditional leaders and well-meaning citizens are working round the clock to ensure that the existing peace in the state is maintained, stoking such tensions would do no one any good.

Moreover, opening such old wounds for the sake of simply gaining sympathy for a cause that is self-serving says a lot about the way certain individuals and groups perceive and misrepresent actions such as the relocation of the market which are in the public interest.

Sadly, this is the same attitude being displayed in Jos, the state capital, where traders who have been cleared from the roads have continued to defy the authorities.

They deceive the outside world into believing that they are being persecuted for their religious and ethnic orientations. But in truth, they are pursuing ulterior motives that are detrimental to the overall progress, peace and development of the state.

These policies are not peculiar to Plateau State. All over the country, governments are continuing to adopt the same strategies aimed at making the business and physical environments more conducive for their citizens.

In fact, people who flagrantly flout these laws in Plateau State obey same with reverence in other parts of the country. So why must Plateau State be an exception?

We appeal to government to consider genuine concerns with all seriousness and make amendments or concessions wherever necessary. Ample security should also be provided in these markets to allay the fears of both the traders and the indigenous communities of Gero and Sabongida.

Be that as it may, it must be stressed that no groups or individuals should be allowed to disobey government laws using pretexts that are entirely self-serving and not in the common good.

Government must be firm and decisive in upholding the laws it promulgates and act without fear or favour whenever the need arises.

That is the only way it to earn the confidence and trust of citizens.

An editorial of The Nigeria Standard newspaper, Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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