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Inter ethnic crisis in nigeria possible solution

Sarkin Yakin Keffi, Executive Governor of Nasarawa State God, in His infinite wisdom, made our dear country a rainbow collection of tribes and tongues. The rainbow in the sky is a thing of beauty. But we seem blind to the beauty in our rainbow collection of tribes and tongues. Instead, we find mutual suspicion, hate and fear in other tongues and tribes. Consequently, several parts of our country are today convulsed in inter and intra-ethnic conflicts leading to loss of lives as well as the destruction of private and public property.

The gun is beginning to rule and ruin our country. This inexorable march to perdition must be halted.

  • Monthly, you hear that herdsmen attacked one community or another sacking it and destroying lives and property;
  • New York, University of Rochester Press.

We must halt it. We have taken the first step towards halting this unwanted march with our gathering at this forum. The solution to every human problem begins with a gathering of this nature provided inter ethnic crisis in nigeria possible solution participants resist the temptation to turn it into an academic talk shop. We too must resist that temptation. The matter before us is too urgent and too serious to permit the luxury of academic hair-splitting. We can find the instrument to forge a inter ethnic crisis in nigeria possible solution bond of unity from our diversity in tribes and tongues in our heads and in our hearts.

We must find that instrument. It is a self-evident truth that unless we forge this bond of unity and urgently too, we will continue to dissipate our energy and waste valuable resources in containing eruptions of mutual hate among our people.

Our nation cannot progress with its feet firmly stuck in the molten lead of retrogression. Our collective challenge, as leaders of our people, is to set our nation free from its continued self-victimization. The government and people of Nasarawa State, most sincerely welcome this effort. We fully identify ourselves with it because our poor, struggling state and its people are victims of ethnic conflicts.

Perhaps, more than most people, we desire an urgent solution to them. We thank President Olusegun Obasanjo for initiating this forum. It is our sincere hope that our discussions will be free, fair, honest and constructive. Above all, we must seek to offer pragmatic solutions to the problems of ethnic conflicts in our country. We must address these problems in a spirit of mutual accommodation if we are to avert a greater calamity in our country. The history of human conflicts shows clearly that wars often begin from minor personal, sectional, economic, political, social and even religious disagreements.

No one must pretend to be indifferent to what is happening in our country. Let those states which have not had these convulsions delude themselves into believing that they are immune to them. These crises cast a long shadow over the nation.

No part of Nigeria can consider itself safe when other parts are burning. The threat of anarchy in any part of our country is the threat of anarchy in the entire nation. Our nation can develop meaningfully and nurture its democracy only in a peaceful atmosphere in which respect for human lives and property is a fundamental article of our national faith. We believe we are all committed to the sustenance of democracy in our country.

We believe we are all committed to moving Nigeria forward in peace and not in pieces. We believe that working together we can turn the tide against the anarchists and rescue our nation from the brink of self-destruction. We make our contribution at this forum in the fervent hope that it will assist us in our obviously arduous and unenviable task of finding a meaningful and lasting solution to the frequent inter- and intra-ethnic conflicts not just in the North-Central zone but throughout the country.

We would wish to proceed with our discussion from what we have experienced in the North-Central geo-political zone to give you a feel of how far inter and intra-ethnic hatred and intolerance have convulsed our community and retarded its progress. We begin with a general introduction and proceed to the nature and the causes of these conflicts with a brief history of the zone.

  • Therefore, breakdown, breakaway, civil strife, civil war, minority nervousness, and violent clashes, all of which would typically be regarded unusual in normal states are common forces or actual occurrences in divided states Osaghae and Suberu 2005;
  • What remains to be said at this point is that the mindset that infused that agitation has not dramatically changed since then despite contemporary socio-political changes that have largely responded to that agitation and more or less altered our political landscape;
  • Conversely, communities can be provided with different benefits, for instance in the form of housing or infrastructure.

The second part of the presentation deals with the larger Nigerian society. We conclude by offering suggestions on how to contain this conflict, or in the current parlance, on the way forward.

10 solutions to the inter ethnic crises and violence in Nigeria

Introduction Since the return of democracy to Nigeria on May 29, 1999, parts of the Middle Belt region now better known by its new geo-political identity as North-Central Zone, have witnessed a series of communal, religious, inter and intra-ethnic crises resulting into mindless destruction of lives and property.

The most affected states in the zone are Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue and Taraba states. Although Kaduna and Bauchi states are not strictly within this zone, the crises in the two states have had some effect on the zone itself. Most of what we say here about our zone is more or less applicable to both Kaduna and Bauchi states. Generally, these clashes have reduced towns Kaduna and Jos and villages to charred evidence of the new spirit of intolerance stalking parts of our dear nation.

When the president himself visited Kaduna in the wake of the crisis, he could not find words either to express his revulsion at the degree of destruction or to condemn the perpetrators of the mayhem. For a president who is not known to be short of words, this must have been a great source of grief for him.

1. Introduction

These crises have turned thousands of people into pitiable refugees in their own homes and communities. Unfortunately, the state governments do not have the financial means to adequately respond to the resettlement and security needs of these helpless victims.

The crisis in Bauchi was both inter-ethnic and inter-state. There is thus a common characteristic of inter-ethnicity in all these clashes.

  1. This Muslim North and Christian South cleavage enhances ethnic fractionalisations in Nigeria, especially in Northern Nigeria where Islamic identity plays a dominant role Paden 2007.
  2. We fully identify ourselves with it because our poor, struggling state and its people are victims of ethnic conflicts.
  3. We face a complex situation that is becoming more complicated almost daily. Some of the ethnic conflicts in the North-Central zone have been over farm and grazing land.
  4. University of Cape Town Press. Our national unity is systematically eroded by the fact that contest for political offices has been reduced to primitive struggles among tribes.
  5. Based on this approach, ethnicity thus becomes a process through which ethnic identities are politicised Eriksen 1996. Proper acknowledgement include, but not limited to a Proper referencing in the case of usage in research, magazine, brochure, or academic purposes, b " FAIR USE " in the case of re-publication on online media.

There is a religious coloration to the clashes in Kaduna and Jos. The religious coloration seeks to mask the underlying fundamental cause or causes of these crises. However its interpretation by interested analysts gives the impression that it can stand on its own.

We will so treat it but bear in mind that religion is quite often a ready weapon employed to gain advantage or obtain a victim status in the unending ethnic quest for social, political and economic advantages. Nevertheless, we acknowledge the fact that the religious coloration has become as dangerous and nearly as intractable as the fundamental cause or causes of these inter-ethnic clashes.

Causes of Ethnic Conflicts in North-Central Zone Various explanations, some bordering on applied sociology, have been offered for these crises.

There are suggestions that they are a passing phase in a nation that has found its freedom after many years of dictatorship. It may well be that democracy has unleashed personal freedom that some of us find ourselves unequipped to properly manage, leading to a heady expression of same.

It may well be that under democracy, our right to have our say has been turned into a licence to be right. It may even well may be that the latent fissiparous forces now find a discordant expression and violent release in the country.

But these crises are not, repeat, not a passing phase in a country grappling with the dynamics of nationhood. There are various dimensions to them. Indeed, some of the underlying causes are probably as old as the nation itself, even if they only simmered beneath the surface. In our view, we can look at these problems from three historical perspectives.

But first, a brief political history of the North- Central Zone itself. The zone is home to nearly all the ethnic groups in the country. Numerous minority ethnic groups, numbering about 50, the largest of whom being the Tiv are found in four states — Benue, Taraba, Plateau and Nasarawa — are also here. No other zone in the country can boast of this degree of ethnic diversity as the North-Central zone.

Migration into this region took many forms and happened at various times in inter ethnic crisis in nigeria possible solution history. The old Kwararafa and Nupe empires must have been responsible for the great gathering of the tribes, particularly the minority ethnic groups, in this region. It is not exactly known what gave rise to the Kanuri migration from the north-east to this region.

Ethnic and religious crises in Nigeria

But they came and people of that extraction are found mostly in what is now Lafia local government area in Nasarawa State. They are the traditional ruling class there. The Igbo and the Yoruba must have come to the region for a number of reasons, among which must be commerce and economic opportunities. The ethnic diversity in this region means the diversity of custom, cultural and religious practices that are sometimes in conflict with one another.

Such conflict has often found expression in the political rhetoric within and outside the geo-political zone. We will now briefly consider them: Minority Politics and the Agitation for Middle Belt Region Before and during independence, many political leaders of this region, such as the late Joseph Tarka, pressed for a Middle Belt region to be carved out from the then Northern Region.

Their arguments were based almost entirely on two factors: They felt that a region of their own would afford them the opportunity to develop at their own pace and in accordance with their cultural and religious practices. There were similar agitations in the then Eastern and Western regions. The Western Region gave in and created the then Mid-West region was carved out of it. The powers that be in the northern and eastern region took a different political view of the agitations and refused to yield.

Ethnic Conflicts in Nigeria

Before independence in 1960, the British colonial authorities responded to these minority fears with the setting up of the Wilkins Commission. The colonial administration accepted the recommendation of the commission that the problems of the minorities would best be solved through administrative actions rather than through the creation of more regions.

They might have been right but contemporary developments soon showed that the British were too trusting in the capacity of their indigenous successors to be truly accommodating as far as this issue was concerned. The struggle for a Middle Belt region introduced a thin religious divide among the people.

Christians largely led the movement for the Middle Belt region. In the course of the struggle, the leaders felt that the Moslems in the region did not support them in their struggle. They also felt and indeed, claimed that the powers that be in the region punished the leaders and supporters of the movement but rewarded those who were opposed to it.

Thus from the early years of the struggle, religion increasingly became a factor. This suspicion was fuelled by the fiery political rhetoric of the leaders of the movement and took hold of the psyche of the people. In spite of the various political and administrative changes in the region, this mutual suspicion has refused to die.

There was one other dimension to the politics of minority in the period under consideration. Through the indirect rule system introduced by the colonial authorities, the emirs and chiefs wielded considerable power which they exercised, sometimes capriciously and alienated some of their subjects. This was the case in the southern part of what is now Kaduna State known then as Southern Zaria inter ethnic crisis in nigeria possible solution the Emir of Zaria by virtue of the emirate system, appointed district and village heads for the communities as was the practice in most parts of the then northern region.

But the Southern Zaria communities, who are largely Christians and animists, did not feel comfortable with this.

  1. We would like to suggest here that it is no longer reasonable to trumpet that belief.
  2. Following events in Iran during the Islamic revolution of 1979, radical fundamentalist activities increased among Muslim youths.
  3. In addition, the new constitution should define rights and privileges of citizens by the place they live in not by place of origin, and remove bad influence of religion in politics and deal with religious intolerance. Since we copied our constitution from the United States, it would be no insult on our national pride if we adopted their own constitutional provision on residency and citizen rights, albeit with the necessary modifications to suit our peculiar national situation.
  4. Again, it should be clear that this model should not be applied to Nigeria. It is for this reason that followers of this outfit advocate for a government based on Sharia as opposed to a democratic one.
  5. In conflicts of this nature occurring along the convergence of ethnic and religious lines, it is often very difficult to tell the differences between religious and ethnic crises because the dividing line between them is slimmer than thin. The zone has not fared badly either under civilian administrations.

They suspected that the appointment of Moslem district and village heads was part of an alleged grand plan to Islamize them. This suspicion simmered and finally boiled over into the Zangon-Kataf violent clash in the eighties.