Jos, the capital city of Plateau State in Nigeria has been plagued with violence, crisis, tension and uncertainty since a crisis broke out in 2001. On an unfortunate day in September of that year, the capital city of a place known in Nigeria as the home of peace and tourism saw itself crack into pieces that ran along ethnic and religious lines.
Suddenly, there an important need arose to find new ways and common grounds to unite a truly diverse city.
And it is out of that need that
Jtownperspectives an online Facebook group was created in 2010 to meet the challenge of getting people informed and involved in the peace process. It has since grown into a Nigerian and Pan African group that motivates, inspires and challenges youths to see the need for individual responsibility towards contributing to peace, stability, sustainable development and political involvement
1. To create a platform where every voice, opinion and point of view from indigenes, citizens and anyone associated with Jos and Plateau State can be heard.
2. To provide real time information about hot spots in town and tension areas for the protection of all lives
3.Create activities that unify people of all religions and tribes and make them work towards common goals.
4. Sensitize young people who are the most susceptible to be used as political thugs about their true role in government.
HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED
The objectives were achieved by:
1. Making the group open and public so anyone can join, as a result, the group currently has 12,000 members and counting.
2.News agencies with direct access to the press office of the government of Plateau State were gotten to post information directly on the page.
3. A lot of campaigns have been done around activities happening within the state that has rallied members from the group who have gone to the government house, major traffic spots in the city and made their presence known and voices heard,
4. Social activities like concerts, panel discussions, workshops have been organised on the platform. Information about these kinds of gatherings are also constantly publicized on Jtownperspectives.
#123makeyourvotecount campaign. The campaign is a continuous youth civic education and engagement project towards the 2015 general elections and other democratic and governance processes.
October 1st 2014, Independence day interviews, The idea was to go on to the street and interview young Nigerians about their hopes for the country and their frustration with its current state. This was done because the voice of the Nigerian Youth is not one that is encouraged to be heard and with the elections around the corner, the time had come for the Youth to speak up.
For the #123makeyourvotecount, the reception was extremely good. Especially because Nigeria is filled with talented and international artist like rappers M.I Abaga and Iceprince Zamani, Kevin Pam (Big Brother winner, 2009) who call Jos, fondly known as Jtown, home. And they signed on to the campaign; their presence had a great immediate impact.
Most young people were reluctant to speak on the interviews. But with a bit of gentle prodding, a few said was on their mind and had some really intelligent point of views.
The wounds that have been inflicted by the violence and crisis run really deep. And people have lost loved ones and valuable property. So there is great reluctance because of grievances.
Culture, traditions and history are very tough opponents to weaken and breakdown.
Even though people are hurt but the knowledge that the common goal of peace leads to the flourishing of all, gradually thaws the ice and makes people open to the campaigns and dialogue.
Making new cultures, traditions and showing how effective they are in our present day compared to the old ones is the better route to go with winning people over. This is instead of making plain arguments against those cultures. People tend to hold on tighter to them when that is done.
Creating activities that show how beneficial peace is to all, like workshops, job opportunities and access to new ideas makes more impact that writing essays and sharing them.
It is easier to shut trouble makers and tension builders online. Most of these people do not mostly show themselves in the public gatherings.