MUHAMMAD GAMBO ISGOGO
HASSAN ADAMU MAKUKU
UMAR HAMIDU ALIYU
Nigeria is no doubt a populous nation of over 88 million (1991 population census) but as at now Nigeria’s population is estimated to be above 120 million people of diverse ethnic groups and many religions. Its people are differently distributed in the 36 states that made up the nation. In addition to this, the nation is blessed with many economic potentialities which help in the movement of the various peoples through the process of economic inter-dependence.
Though abounds with human and natural resources, the country has since independence witnessed a number of inter and intra ethnic and religious crisis which continue to be an impediment to its overall development.
The causes of conflicts between and within ethnic and religious groups could be seen in a number of factors, such as ways of propagating the religions, mistrust and suspicion between the followers of the various religious and ethnic groups, selfishness ignorance and intolerance amongst the two groups.
References are made in the holy books, such as the Glorious Qu’ran and the Holy Bible on their teachings showing how if fully adhered to, the nation will be in peace. In this respect, the prevailing crisis might not be un- connected with the deviation of the teachings of these religions by their followers.
In the paper, causes of these crises are discussed and some suggestions are provided which if properly implemented will serve as remedies to both ethnic and religious crisis in the nation.
Ethnic Crisis In Nigeria.
In the words of Eleazu “the people of Nigeria are many and varied”1. Actually, a nation with a population of over 120 million people now and about 391 different ethnic groups2 with divergent socio-political, economic, cultural and religious backgrounds could be termed a nation of many and varied peoples. With this heterogametic nature. Nigeria has thus, become a melting pot where social conflicts and especially of ethnic nature are bound to occur. Causes of ethnic crisis in Nigeria are many comprising of both long and short term factors. There had been in the past for example, serious inter-ethnic rivalry to secure slaves for both domestic use and trans-Atlantic slave trade and secondly, there were wars of expanding the territories of the various states, kingdoms and empires that made up what is today Nigeria. These wars were the predominant activities of the various ethnic groups which became a factor of bitter relationship amongst them in the past. This situation of enmity between the various ethnic groups was according to Ryder From the 18th century onwards when the slave trade supplied weapons that made these conflicts more destructive. Internally, a sharpening of divisions within societies is well attested3.
These wars caused serious insecurity so that many old towns were relocated in mountainous areas or mass defensive walls were constructed to avoid the intrusion of enemies. It is worth noting that these earlier conflicts were sponsored by the European slavers. In this way one could say, the seed for such conflicts was planted right in the period before colonial rule. Slave trade on its own was an inhuman act and therefore a terrorist act. In the colonial period, the colonial system of dividing what is today Nigeria into three administrative units had contributed greatly in shaping the present day relationship of suspicion, fear and mistrust among the divergent ethnic groups in the country. The administrative units were:-Lagos colony, Southern Protectorate and Northern protectorate, in this arrangement, the north was excluded from the central administration. This exclusion was to later have a serious implication on the relationship between the people of the north and those of the South, (East and West).
The implication became more pronounced when in...