By Aondoaseer Tyopuusu, Bureau Chief, North West, Jalingo
National President of the Jukun Development Association of Nigeria, JDAN, Chief Benjamin Bako, on Monday called for sincere dialogue to put to end the lingering Jukun/Tiv crisis in Taraba State.
In a telephone interview with our correspondent in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital, Bako said that selecting government appointees, who can not tell the government the truth, to serve on peace committees would not solve the problem.
Notung that the involvement of Benue State government in the search for lasting peace was also diversionary, as the crisis was not between Taraba and Benue states, but between the Tiv and Jukun in Taraba State, Bako said more than 10 peace meetings have been held since the beginning of the crisis in different parts of the country with no solution.
He added that government needs to change its strategy to get the right solution to the crisis.
He said, “If the governor wants to end the crisis, he will do so within the week, because he knows who to call.
“The insistence of the government in using same group of people and methods that have failed to yield results before in solving the crisis is beginning to send wrong signals that government is not sincere with the peace building efforts.
“Since the beginning of the crisis, I have not been invited for any peace meeting as President of Jukun Development Association. If we are looking for peace, we need to accommodate the views of people.
“Let the state government involved cultural and local leaders at the grassroots for a sincere dialogue; appointing government officials into committees as is being done will not bring the desired solution to the crisis.
“The peace search should not be pursued along party lines. People who know the issues and are willing to contribute should be given a chance.
“For me, involving people from Benue State, who are not from Taraba State to talk about the crisis will not bring solution, because the crisis is between Tiv and Jukun in Taraba.”
The Jukun national leader, who said both the Jukun and the Tiv were tired of fighting, said that time has come for genuine dialogue to end the crisis for the good of the state.
But in a reaction, the Special Adviser to the Taraba State Governor on Media and Publicity, Mr. Bala Dan-Abu, said that Mr. Bako is not a leader of the Jukun as he claimed, adding that he lacks the authority to speak on behalf of and the Jukun.
Dan-Abu said, “Benjamin Bako is not representing any authentic Jukun organisation. He is just looking for self recognition and nobody will listen to him.
“We already have genuine Tiv and Jukun leaders, who are working with the governor to solve the problem and the solution to the crisis will be found soon.”