Formed on 2nd November 2019, “Come to Jos,” an open, largely youth group on Facebook, has gathered nearly 300,000 sons and daughters, as well as admirers of Jos, the capital of Central Nigeria’s Plateau State, from across the globe.
Its main aim was to market the city to tourists and investors, projecting its rich culture and tourism potentials, breakthroughs and positive stories of peace after years of violent conflicts between Christians and Muslims.
“As a result of the conflicts a lot of people outside Jos think it is a dead city and state. We wanted to let people outside know that Jos and Plateau State as a whole is a livable place despite the crises,” said Mr. David Wash, the founder and Chief administrator of the group.
In 13 months, the group, more than ever before, neutralized stereotypes and prejudices that divide citizens, that members, though from diverse backgrounds, jointly celebrate one another, and discuss nothing but progress.
“For the first time in Jos, we have a group where religion and politics are not the main topic. How to take Jos and Plateau State forward had been the main concern and members have gained by participating in meaningful discussions on various topics that concern the state.
“The greatest achievement of the group therefore is that we have been able to bring people of different backgrounds under one platform and to an extent these different groups have started talking to each other.
“We have been able to show the world a different side of Jos they never knew existed. The tourist areas, the cultures and life generally in Jos and other cities,” said Mr. Wash.
The group in 2020 never had any physical activity. It was focused on gathering people from diverse orientations under one roof. “Getting them to talk to each other virtually was the target for the year. The next phase of our activities will be physical and there is a great promise that when we start, that virtual cohesion we’ve achieved will continue,” Wash said.
Despite having physical activities however, “Come to Jos” facilitated and promoted members’ events, breakthroughs and life stories, attracting wide patronage and growth. MK Reporters for instance carried out several charity projects through crowdfunding from publicizing on the group.
Top on the list of events for 2021, the group Officials say are Hikes, lunches, dinners, picnics, sporting events, seminars, sanitation activities, visits to orphanages and internally displaced persons camps or locations regardless of tribe, religion or political affiliation.
This is however just a tip, as gathered. There are even greater prospects for peace in what the group is doing and planning. Public support and partnership especially from civil societies, governments and among others, the media, is crucial to achieving success.