It has been proved time and time again that entertainment is a veritable tool in bringing peace to a troubled region. This was what happened recently when Elder Phillips of Apechucks Services Ltd in conjunction with Plateau State Ministry of Youth and Sports, AGN and PMAN staged a concert tagged, Plateau Peace and Unity Fiesta (Jos Renewed).
The two-day event, which took place at Rayfield and Crest Hotel, witnessed a contingent of showbiz stars including Lilian Amah, Franca Brown, Tony Umez, Ashley Nwosu, Mike Nliam, Orits Wiliki, Sam Obeakemhe, Obi Osotule, Matthians Obiahiagbon, Frank Dallas, DB Collabo, MC Rooftops, Klint Da Drunk, Florence Onuma, Funkiest Mallam, Elenu, 2Phat, Faya, Zack Orji, Paul Obazele, Emma Ogugua, Abubakar Yakubu, X unit, Step Zone, Funky Mallam, Segun Srinze, Rocksteady, Buzu, the Destiny Brothers, Doctor Sugarcane, The Maestro and Terry de Rapman.
Phillips explained that since he came to Jos in 1982, the place has become his home and being a successful businessman his experiences during religious crisis in the state has made to find a lasting solution to the situation in his own little way.
“The only house I have is here. I had all my children here and they attended the University of Jos. Those that are perpetuating these negative acts are the youths. Since 2001, I have been running helter skelter, living from one part of Jos to another. I think civilization is the art of living together among ourselves. My little boy, Wisdom, called me one day and said, ‘Daddy, they have used soldiers, nothing has happened, they have set up various committees to no avail, why don’t we look in the direction of entertainment?’ I pondered on what he said and I remembered that back in the ‘70s when the British youths were restive, Jesse Jackson brought artistes to perform for seven days and one of the musicians that performed that day said that if he was involved in killing people, he wouldn’t be doing what he is doing and it worked. Ever since then, we have not heard of any restiveness.
“Then, during the dark days of apartheid in South Africa, the whole world complained nothing happened but not until artistes gathered for three days and High Masekela sang the all time “Release Mandela, we want to see him walk hand in hand with Winnie Mandela in the streets of Soweto”. It worked and a week later, Nelson Mandela was released. Paul Simon did the same in Zimbabwe and the rest of the surrounding countries and we are witnesses to the impact. So we decided to tow the same line and we believe that there will be peace in Plateau State.”
Elder Phillips promised to make the event an annual one.
While receiving the performers at the State House of Assembly, the Speaker, Hon. Istifanus Caleb Mwansat, said: “By the enormous endowment in the state, whatever happens have the potential of spilling to other parts of the country. I pray that your labour will not be in vain. After this concert, Jos will be the envy of everyone in Africa.”
Almost in tears, Franca Brown who cut her teeth in the industry in Jos, said: “It hurts my heart to look back at how Jos was and project what it will be in the future. Killing is not in our culture.”
Not many knew that President of Actors Guild of Nigeria, Segun Arinze grew up in Jos. He went back memory lane to intimate the audience of his beautiful experiences in Jos and added, “Plateau has a lot of talents. It is the cradle of shooting movies. The Nigerian Film Corporation is here, Behind the Clouds was shot here, NTA is here. Please, support projects like this, get the young and upcoming ones to discuss together and discuss the solution. This is not a killing field but a peaceful one.”
Barely a week after the event, the curfew was lifted. It was indeed a celebration of the return of peace to the Plateau.