It has been long that the Gbong Gwom Jos expressed an intention to expand his palace. According to him, the present palace is too small for the most important traditional title holder in Plateau State.
However, the main challenge is that the palace is surrounded by houses whose history dates back to the founding of Jos, before the amalgamation of 1914. And most of the owners of these houses are the so-called settlers, who are not Beroms but mostly Hausas who came during the tin mining boom era.
Recently, the palace dispatched letters to those living around the palace for a purported land survey. The intention of the letter is hazy but the owners of the houses saw it as a bid to take away their abodes, demolish them and make room for the expansion of the palace. They collectively opposed this move, and all these have added to the mounting tension in Jos.
Plateau has within the last six months experienced relative peace, except for a few retaliatory skirmishes around the fringes of Jos between the Fulanis and Beroms, which has refused to abate. We want peace to return to Jos and we want all hostilities to cease. The only way to ensure this is through lasting peace. This can only be achieved through dialogue and reconciliation.
Once Jos was an Eden - a paradise on earth, but today it is a different story. The city is almost a war zone, divided along religious and tribal lines, like Jerusalem after the 1948 war. Yet, the Jos of old can return if the leadership is ready to embrace peace as an option. No one is in a better position to initiate this than the Gbong Gwom who is supposed to be the father of all inhabitants of Jos.
No city in the world can prosper without its people, for they are the blessings of the earth. The more the diversity amongst the populace, the greater the potential, since each tribe will bring forth its experience to increase the wealth of the city. But there must be a sense of security which must completely pervade the metropolis; anything short of this will bring ruin. For now, the Gbong Gwom should make the first overture by shelving the plan of palace expansion until peace returns. But let the people also appreciate his position and understand that his move is for the good of Jos and its inhabitants, that when peace returns, compromises must be made to ensure that the city gets a befitting palace that it deserves.
The Gbong Gwom must therefore reach out to all his people - the Beroms, the Hausas, the Fulanis, the Yorubas, the Ibos and many others, both Christians and Muslims alike. Let him embrace all and prove to them that he is their father. And, ultimately, when the dust settles, the issue of palace expansion will peacefully resolve itself.