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Challenges, Solutions to Ethno – Religious Crises in Nigeria By Aguh Chinyere

Peace and security elude Nigeria from the evil machinations of the British in the Amalgamation theory of 1914 where people of variegated beliefs and cultures were submerged together to satisfy British administrative conveniences. The mistake of this forced marriage at 1914 has been blamed by various writers, schools and Nigerian elites as the bedrock of ethno-religious conflicts bedeviling the nation. Rival ethnic groups pitched against one another in a fight for power and resources relentlessly from then henceforth. Colonial authorities noticing the dangers on ground began constitutional changes which snowballed in to the Richard’s constitution which was originally designed to “promote the Unity of Nigeria, to provide adequately within that unity for the diverse elements which make up the country”. After the Richard’s constitution, constitutional conferences organized after independence, “the question of an acceptable system of co-existence has been contentious”.

The ethnic problem has posed a number of threats to the legitimacy of the national government and its ability to offer leadership appropriate to the demand of nation-building. The mobilization of ethnic sentiments and solitarily seeking to gain or retain relevance has fueled ancient, suspicion, fear of domination and outright conflicts. Granted that conflict is an inevitable phenomenon is social and political settings and thus, not peculiar to any part of the world, its nature, dimension, consensus and management vary from one country to another. Nigeria is one of the nations in the world whose political landscape has been inundated in spectrum of rearing complex conflicts ranging from resource, communal, to political and ethno-religious conflicts.

Political and ethno-religious conflagrations have severally drawn the country to the precipice of disaster. It has engendered huge human carnage, internal displacement and refugee crisis, loss of investments, strained inter-communal or inter ethnic relations, vendetta in the country, to the point that it seems that Nigeria is now exhibiting the symptom of a collapsing state whose members are perpetually at war with one another. Thus, the recurring political and ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria are now exhibiting the symptom of a collapsing state, whose members are perpetually at war with one another. Indeed, the nation has undergone series of profound civil disturbances and recurrently seeking ways to manage her purulent and complex problems and ethno-religious conflict. Several efforts such as deployment of huge security operatives, peaceful dialogue amongst religious groups and setting up of prove parents have been made to manage the perennial conflict but with little or no positive transformation.

Furthermore, these violent conflicts have compelled several Nigerians to attempt a redefinition of their identity as fallout of emotive feeling and perception. The politico-violet conflict which has remained a recurring decimal has severally threated the nascent democracy, national unity, and our collective security as a nation-state. Conflicts in multi-ethnic societies are enduring possibly in account of their ready vulnerability to the rallying, massaging and mobilization of ethnic sentiments for both the warring groups and the government. In addition, in a plural society, particularly when the population has significant grievances, conflict usually becomes an effective political strategy for pursuit of their interest and goals. Also, even if the custodians of power and authority in the society are willing to concede to the demands of groups, they are usually neither trusted nor believed to have credible means of committing the warring factions to agreement. The warring groups might be afraid that once they hold the olive branch of the custodians of power and authority would renege on any agreement.

It is also contended that it is even difficult for the custodians of power and authority to concede to demands of the warring group because such could encourage the flowering, proliferation, mushrooming and radicalization of other groups, which often have opposing objectives. Also, a significant pattern to lengthy conflict is the extremely unequally distributed income and a very low average income, possibly on account of the last of sustaining conflict has become easier because the warring groups have easy access to armaments for prosecuting conflict. Yet, very important to the lengthy pattern of conflict is that once a conflict has occurred a template is raised. It becomes difficult to return to status quo. Presumably, conflict reinforces hatred, and may shift the balance of influential interest in favour of continued conflict.

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