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Inter ethnic crisis in nigeria possible solution

This article has three main objectives. First, it inter ethnic crisis in nigeria possible solution to provide a broad overview of the theoretical quagmire of notions of ethnic conflict. Second, by means of examining Nigeria as a case study it examines how variables such as governance, civil-military relations, economics and religion effect notions of ethnic identity. Finally, it proposes certain policy-relevant recommendations to address the problem of ethnic conflict in Nigeria.

Introduction Ethnic conflict is an issue that, particularly during the last decade or so, has crept to the forefront of international political debate. Events such as those unfolding in Rwanda, Burundi and the Balkans, have brought the issue to a position of prominence, but it is not a new issue altogether, as various instances in Africa amply illustrate.

Polarisation between ethnic groups and resulting conflict between them as they compete for resources, political and economic power and other goals, has spawned negative consequences of tremendous proportions, of which genocide, ethnic cleansing and civil war are but a few examples Stremlau 1999-03-26: In Africa in particular, the problem of ethnic conflict has been compounded by the colonial legacy of national states whose artificial boundaries cut across many ethnic divides.

More especially, how can this be done in a democratic state? Since the earliest times, ethnicity has been viewed in terms of a group setting and associated with the idea of nationhood.

Indeed, according to Peterson, Novak and Gleason 1982: Various definitions of ethnicity build upon this by adding the idea of a common denominator, so to speak, that underlies this conception.

10 solutions to the inter ethnic crises and violence in Nigeria

These two views are shared by Diamond and Plattner 1994: Obviously, this social pluralism will lead to differences of interests, and this is where the possibility of ethnic conflict starts to emerge. Indeed, as she 1993: She continues by arguing: The ideal solution to this problem will, of course, be the achievement of social pluralism with equal respect for, and equal representation of, all ethnic groups within one state, but, as Diamond and Plattner 1994: Because ethnicity taps cultural and symbolic issues basic notions of identity and the self, of individual and group worth and entitlement the conflicts it generates are intrinsically less amenable to compromise than those revolving around material issues.

Viewing elite competition as causing ethnic conflict, the approach by Paul R. In this context, Bostock 1997: We have a few reservations with this definition, however. Secondly, the definition is too vague.

Ethnic and religious crises in Nigeria

Ethnic conflict can, for instance, result from insufficient accommodation within the state, as perceived by ethnic groups, without a breakdown having to occur although a breakdown will surely feed the conflict and exacerbate the situation. Furthermore, as we are reminded by Cohen as quoted by Toland 1993: Ethnic conflict in Nigeria Nigeria is located in West Africa and is, with about 118,5 million inhabitants, the most populous nation on the continent.

Rich in oil reserves, Nigeria is ranked as one of the most developed states in Africa, but ongoing conflicts of interest between inter ethnic crisis in nigeria possible solution population groups have put a damper on further political and economic development.

As a result of boundary demarcations during the colonial period, Nigeria as a political entity was created in 1914 a multi-ethnic nation consisting of more than 200 ethnic groups speaking over 250 languages. Each of these groups mobilises in a distinct geographical region that closely resembles the administrative boundaries of the colonial period.

The northern region is home to the Hausa-Fulani and, as the Northern Protectorate, was administered through indirect rule with the Fulani emirs as intermediaries.

Given this distinct regional administrative pattern, it was only natural, according to Thomson inter ethnic crisis in nigeria possible solution Indeed, the uneven modernisation and differential administration of the protectorates under colonial rule coupled with the artificial boundariesengendered strong regionalist pressures for the introduction of full-fledged federalism to replace the unitary albeit decentralised colonial administration.

When Nigeria gained independence from Britain in 1960, the constitution entrenched this reality, to a large extent affirming regional differences and providing a strong institutional base for group sentiments, with the result that the First Republic was dominated by ethno-regional groupings. The federal system of three regions was established with the aims of recognising the needs, and balancing the aspirations, of the ethnic dominant groups with each region having a strong and relatively autonomous government while the central government focused on national issues such as foreign policy, international trade and defence Falola 1999: They charged their chosen candidates with capturing central federal resources, bringing these back to the regional community.

Consequently, no powerful nationwide political party or constituency emerged. Local considerations, dominated, and issues of ethnicity became increasingly politicised. A political party that squarely identified with just one ethnic group governed each region. In the words of Falola 1999: The military coup, however, just marked the beginning of a deeper crisis.

Ironsi, an Igbo, succeeded the head of the coup, Major Nzeogwu, as inter ethnic crisis in nigeria possible solution of the military, but as the coup was interpreted by other groups as Igbo-inspired, Ironsi was soon deposed by Gowon in a counter coup in July 1966.

The first period of military rule lasted until 1979. The federal military government immediately embarked on a process of centralising state power, strengthening its control over the states and consolidating the influence of the federal civil servants.

This process was aided by the increase in oil revenues, which was used to fund a post-war reconstruction programme. By installing nationalist institutions, it was attempted to tame mobilisation along ethnic lines, and as an extension of this approach, the number of regions in the federation were also increased to 12 and later to 19. The Second Republic was founded on a highly centralised constitution, designed to reinforce the integrative effects of the multi-state structure.

The northern-based National Party of Nigeria NPN won the elections, but due to support of the organisation in the south, it received some credibility in its pretensions as a national party. Although the federal government still looked after its own interests, it had to acknowledge ethno-regional power and distribute resources accordingly, and according to Thomson 2000: Some of these state governments did fall in the national elections of 1983, which established the hegemony of the NPN, but these elections were alleged to have been heavily rigged and the party system again lost its credibility Falola 1999: This time around, the military did not reject the democratic federal government because of a failure of ethnic arithmetic or its nationalist sentiments.

But instead, as Thomson 2000: Politics had become centred on the short-term winning of state resources, and gaining access to levers of power. Resource capture and distribution had become more important to politicians and bureaucrats than the actual development of the economy that produced these resources. This prompted Maj-Gen Ibrahim Babangida to overthrow the Buhari regime in yet another military coup, in 1985.

In an attempt to gain immediate popular support, he released political prisoners and promised open government, while launching an economic structural adjustment programme to strengthen the ailing economy. Under the presidency of Babangida, the states were considerably weakened via fragmentation into smaller units numbering about 30 statesthe cutting of their shares of federal revenues, and the systematic erosion of their power over local authorities.

In this step, aimed at bringing the institutionalised ethnic balancing of the past to an end, both parties now had to win support from across the country in order to win power. The fragility of the mandatory two-party system was exposed in the June 1993 elections, however, when a southerner, Moshood Abiola, won the elections for the first time in history.

In a peculiar arrangement, Gen Sani Abacha, the Chief of Defence Staff, was retained as the only senior military officer in the ING, and of course he quickly rose to dominate it. According to Thomson 2000: One can obviously ask the question of why exactly this is the case.

Whatever the case may be, the situation in Nigeria clearly needs to be resolved, but before some practical suggestions are offered in this regard, it is a good idea to briefly expand upon and clarify the main issues at stake. From the above discussion, and in line with the purpose of this paper, it is clear that the question of ethnicity and ethnic conflict underlies the problems that Nigeria has faced and currently continues to face. Ethnic conflict in Nigeria mainly revolves around the following four specific legacies of the past: Geographic and demographic characteristics In addition to forging over 200 ethnic groups together into one state, the colonial legacy of the three separate administrative regions closely resembling the three dominant regions today has proved to be a major stumbling block in attempts to establish unity in Nigeria.

Resources and the economy As noted above, the economy played a large role in the fuelling of conflict in Nigeria. The south is inter ethnic crisis in nigeria possible solution resource-rich, particularly richly endowed with oil reserves, while the north is more agriculturally orientated.

At the same time, the groups of the south counter-reacted to these attempts of the north in order to maximise their own slices of the cake. In the process ethnic rivalries have further increased, fuelled by the economic mismanagement of the various governments since independence. Religion has indeed been a major divisive factor in Nigeria for decades and religious contention has been sharpened by the fact that the two previous republics were led by northern Muslims on top of the dominance of the federal government by Muslim northerners for more than thirty years since independence.

Although all of the Nigerian governments have looked after their own interests first, the military took it one step further. In protest against the military regimes, many ethnic-based militant groups have emerged.

1. Introduction

Ethnic conflict in Nigeria: What is to be done? Firstly, let us have a look at the challenges facing Nigeria under Obasanjo challenges that ethnic conflict management will obviously have to take into account. According to Solomon 2000: Three models on ethnic conflict management have been identified in the literature on ethnic conflict: Besides, attempts of one group to control another, have often elicited negative counter-reactions by other groups in Nigeria e.

It therefore calls for the political separation of groups unwilling or unable to peacefully co-exist under one political system. Again, it should be clear that this model should not be applied to Nigeria.

13 Causes of Ethnic Conflict in Nigeria and Solutions

More than 200 ethnic groups have been sharing the Nigerian territory for at least many decades, and even centuries, with the result that there are no distinct boundaries to be drawn between them. The consociational model is not perfect either, but is certainly more applicable to Nigeria than the previous two.

This model should further be applied by using the integrative approach. The integrative approach aims at integrating the interests of adversaries through solutions that meet their mutual needs without sacrificing their basic demands.

This may be accomplished through building new cooperative relationships that facilitate the fulfilment of seemingly contradictory goals Rabie 1994: How can this be applied to Nigeria, however?

In Nigeria, there are three main levels of leadership that can potentially participate in the negotiations process, namely the federal government under Obasanjo, the state governments and the leaders of the various ethnic groups outside of these structures. Under the initiative of the federal government, determining the various leaderships inter ethnic crisis in nigeria possible solution participate in the negotiations process can take place both horizontally e.

Obasanjo and his cabinet with National Assembly or between groups on grassroots level etc. These talks can then be gradually intensified and broadened to encompass other issues as well. It should be stressed that this process must be as inclusive and representative as possible. Clearly a higher degree of government centralisation should be introduced in order to circumvent many problems of the past.

As an example, the number of states should be kept to a minimum, as their proliferation intensified competition for federal resources in the past, and so contributed to ethnic conflict and fragmentation.

A higher degree of state centralisation will obviously be conducive to uniting Nigeria, but will not succeed in bringing this about on its own. It should be accompanied by nation-building and the forging of a common Nigerian identity based on symbolism and the spirit of ubuntu. These symbols should incorporate as many of the symbols cherished by the various population groups as possible, while combined with totally new ones.

Indeed, the powerful effects of a national pride should not be underrated. In addition, the results of the negotiations should be contained in a constitution that clearly specifies all aspects of the political and other systems as agreed between the negotiating parties. A charter of human inter ethnic crisis in nigeria possible solution should form a main part of this document, while the constitution should clearly make provisions for establishing the rule of law principle.

It is further important that the provisions of the constitution remain rooted in reality, while the judiciary should be sufficiently strengthened to uphold it.