In the last few decades Nigeria has experienced violent conflicts and antagonism rooted in religion, ethnicity, and economics. communal conflicts in Tiv land area of the Middle Belt region of Nigeria are not an exception. This paper (1) examines the causes of communal conflict in Tivland (2),challenges,as well as the(3) strategies of resolving and managing conflicts in Tivland and society in general.
The African continent has been, and continues to be engulfed in one conflict after another. Over the last 40 years, nearly 20 African countries, or about 40% of Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), have experienced at least one period of civil war (Elbadawi & Sambanis, 2000). They further estimate that 20% of SSA's population now lives in communities which are constantly at war. As the most populated African nation with over 140 million people, Nigeria has not been spared its share of violent conflicts, particularly communal conflicts. Some of these conflicts have been characterized as crises of identity (Isa, 2001), or competition for control of the political space whatever its form and nature, Egwu (1998), reveal that communal conflict pose a fundamental threat and challenge to the state, and erode current attempts at institutionalizing virile and durable democracies in Africa, particularly in Nigeria. Since conflict prevention has not taken sufficient root in Nigeria, communal conflicts have now become pervasive. As Isa (2001), aptly notes thus: “communal conflicts in Nigeria have attained a situation of pervasive phenomenon; it has turned Nigeria's rural communities into battlefields and killing grounds”. The sheer number and challenges as well as the attendant socio-economic challenges of communal clashes, have attracted a number of study into the phenomenon with the aim of identifying the causes and ways of preventing them. Alubo (2005), thus provide us with some examples of communal conflicts. The Ife-Modakeke communal conflicts of Oyo/Osun States 1999, Hausa/Fulani and Kataf of Zangon Kataf in Kaduna State, 1999; Ijaw and Istekiris of Warri in Delta State, 1999; Hausa/Fulani and Yoruba ethnic conflicts in Oyo and Lagos States respectively, 1999/2000; Jukun/Chamba and Kuteb, Jukun and Tiv in Taraba State, 1998/1999; Igbakwu-Omor, Aguleri and Umuleri communal conflicts of Anambra State, 1999 (Isa, 2001). In Tivland, some of the most notable conflicts include the following: The 1947 chieftaincy riots in Makurdi, Ushongo-Iharev, Isherev-Utyondu, Tiv-Jukun, Tiv-Udam. According to Ayua (2006), currently there are low-grade conflicts within Tivland that have not received any media attention. Key questions with profound policy implications could therefore be asked: (1) what are the causes of the high incidence in communal conflict in Tivland? (2) What are the challenges that these conflicts pose to development? (3)what are the strategies that can be used to reduce the incidence of conflict in order to sustain peace in Tivland? Conceptual Considerations
Communal conflict: communal conflict is a conflict in which groups that define themselves using ethnic, national or religious criteria make claim against each other, the state or other political actors.(Utsaha et al 2000). According to Horowitz, (2000) communal conflict refers to the situation where violence is perpetrated across ethnic lines and victims are based on ethnic group’s membership. To Horowitz communal violence may also be called ethnic violence. To Tadjoeddin, (2002) communal violence may be defined as a violence that occurs between different communal groups. Groupings in the community based on religion, tribes, sect race and others. In his own contribution, Varshney, (2002) argue that all communal violence are based on ascription (birth based) group identities including race, language, religion, tribe or caste therefore can be called ethnic conflict. According to this understanding, communal violence ranges from Muslim-Christian...