PLURALISM, CITIZENSHIP AND ETHNIC CRISIS IN THE MIDDLE BENUE VALLEY NIGERIA:TOWARDS A CIVILIZATION OF PEACE AND TOLERANCE. By
Department of Rel. and Philosophy
Benue State University,
One of the most complex features of the Nigerian nation is its ethnic composition. Like very other African nation Nigeria labour under triple cultural heritage; euro-Christian tradition, arabico-islamic culture and the indigenous Nigeria thought system. These polarities have each made a contribution to the development of human capital though, the aggressive attitudes of Islam and Christianity in particular has collapsed the capacity of the ethnic nationalities to overcome exclusion and strengthen inclusion. In the north, it is either the Muslims against the Christians, Hausa/Fulani against the Siyawa or the non-state and anti-state contraptions like the Maitatsine religious riots in the 80’s and or Boko Haram disturbances in 2009. In the Middle-Belt, the settler-indigene dichotomy has torn the once peaceful green zone of Nigeria into shreds. The southeast, the south-south and the southwest are similarly guilty of the same sectarian acrimony and everyone else is fighting everyone else. Given the impact of modernization the growth of the democratic culture, the new range of economic, social and political horizons of Nigerians, the only hope of genuine peace and harmonious inter-group relation lies in the acceptance of some form of accommodation of each other and some compromise that is engendered by a seeking together with responsibility, lucidity and tact. Our paper focuses on the variegated population of the Middle-Benue valley and argues that, if its citizens should be a United Nation, the different ethnic nationalities should be welded together and made to place loyalty to the nation. We argue on this score that pluralism is a process of integration in which different ethnic group with their geographically conditioned values retain certain autonomy even as they become part of the totality of the Nigerian project. This process of integration becomes more meaningful if and only if it takes cognizance of the religio-cultural milieu of the people. We shall conclude on an existential note, that what the Nigerian social system need is an interactive relationship that enhances the entire human person and the whole society.
If ever there is unarguable legacy bequeathed to the Nigerian nation by its “Leaders”, it is that of distrust, with its population polarized on ethnic and religious divide. Today, the reality is that every other ethnic and or political group in Nigeria, is fighting every other group. In the Middle Benue valley for instance, the ethnic nationalities have moved in the animal fashion of Ardreys theory of territorial imperative, to defend its title to space and food, prestige and identity. Experts have argued that, unlike the past, present day conflicts results from a well orchestrated structural injustice and the preponderant ignorance of patrimonial and prebendal exercise of state power. Such, it has been argued accounts for the many flash points in the region; in Taraba state where the Tiv-Jukun, the Jukun-Kuteb, the Jukun-Hausa, the Jukun-Fulani, Jukun-Mumuye and the Mumuye-Fulani are fighting each other. In Plateau state, we have the Hausa against the Ankwai, Hausa/Fulani against Taroh and the Hausa against the Birom, while in Nasarawa state we have Alago against the Tiv, the Fulani against the Alago among others. This paper focuses on the variegated population of the Middle Benue valley and argues that the Plural character of the region with its attendant culture of distrust and conflicts could be welded together and made to co-exist for sustainable development through dialogue. The paper argues on this score that pluralism is a process of integration in which different ethnic groups with their geographically conditioned values retain certain...
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