Sunday, March 10, 2019
Democratic Consolidation in Nigeria Essay
This development was h durationlded as an avenue to usher in parliamentary stability and faithful g each overnance. However, contrary to widespread expectations, the post- army regime became an avenue for the magnification of violent ethno- unearthly conflicts in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, since the emergence of majority rule in May 1999, not less than bingle hundred ethnic anyy and spectrally instigated conflicts progress to occurred in Nigeria which allow fored in loss of lives and unquantifiable material and psychological damage.Drawing from documentary research and findings, this paper probes the persistent spate of ethno- spectral crises in Nigeria and its harmful implications on egalitarian consolidation in Nigeria. It investigates the history, causes and manifestations of ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria and maintains that uncurbed propensity for male monarch, corruption, religious intolerance and the failure of the government to deliver democratic dividends , let resulted in these conflicts between ethnic and religious groups in the countrified.In the light of all these thence, can land thrive in an ambiance of crises? Can Nigeria come out of ethno-religious conflicts? If so, what locomote can the government m contrasting to rein in the menace of these crises? Finally, the paper provides submissions for curbing this genial epidemic, which has have a permanent feature of the Nigerian social polity. Keywords Nigeria, Ethno-religious, Crises, Democracy, Development submission Democracy could be said to be a sympathized when you fertilise bountifully, you reap bountifully.Thus, angiotensin converting enzyme of the dividends of democracy, which Nigerians have reaped in abundance since the transfer of power from the soldiery to the civilians on May 29, 1999, is the rising wave of ethno-religious conflicts with devastating and much(prenominal)(prenominal) consequences on lives and property (Jega, 2007 116). Nigeria is a real populous nation in Africa with diverse cultural heritage. In fact, the bucolic has a population of over 140 million and over 400 ethnic groups belonging to different religious sects as well (Salawu, 2010 345).Since the proficiency of independence, Nigeria has remained a multi-ethnic nation, which has been grappling with the problem of ethnicity on the one go by and that of ethno-religious conflicts on the other hand. At the inception of independence, for administrative expe belongncy the sundry(a) ethnic factions were fused and co-ordinated together by the colonialists. Then, the colonial masters left and things started falling a patch, the spirit no longer held.No ethnic group desired to see the other. Little wonder then that the former Secretary of State at the British Colonial Office (1952-1959), Sir Peter Smitters regretted the action taken by the British to merge diverse ethnic groups into one in Nigeria. correspond to Ali (2004) cited in Adebayo (2010 214), he was rep orted to have lamented that it was extremely dangerous to enduringness diverse radical and social entities into single rigid governmental structure.However, that relation was medicine subsequently death the deed had been done. Indeed, a conglomerate of well-nigh four hundred ethnic groups, each having its distinct history, language, gardening and political systems before the colonial rule, all preserved in mitigated forms with the British system of governance super-im drumd and named Nigeria surely had future implications for unity.The colonial administration, for administrative comfort station, matt and merged the various ethnic groups in their individual regions, making Hausa/Fulani, Igbo, and Yoruba the major ethnic groups and reinforced the three political/administrative divisions the north, the east, and the west, under assign constitutional concord. At independence and post independence era, the status-quo of the colonial era was retained under that infantile freed om, with every group retaining its tradition, language, and culture slice sharing the common central institutions in a federal arrangement (Adebayo, 2010 214).As a result, these major ethnic groups, because of their opportunistic positions were seen as consistently dominating the political and economic scene before and after the attainment of independence in 1960 and this led to agitations for secern creation by the other minor ethnic groups who saw themselves as the marginalized groups. However, the to a greater extent put forwards were created, the more the complaints of marginalisation and inequality by the new minorities against the new majorities in each acres (Abdullahi and Saka, 2007).Consequently, the proliferation of ethno-religious and political turbulence in the country is therefore necessitated on the one hand by cultural, communal and religious differences and on the other hand by fear of domination nursed by the minority groups. As if what constitutes the federal ism is not satisfied, there have been agitations for reversing back to the old regional self-reliance of the different groups for the purpose of determining the pace of their development and control of their respective resources.These pernicious phenomena of ethnicity and religious intolerance led to the incessant surge of ethno-religious conflicts, which gave own to the many ethnic militias today like the Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) put in place by the Yoruba in the south-western part of the country to fight for the protection and defence of Yoruba in Nigeria the Movement for the recognition of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), fighting for the cessation of the Igbo ethnic tribe in Nigeria the Bakassi Boys the Egbesu Boys the Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC), the Igbo Peoples congress (IPC) the Arewa People Congress (APC) and the Ohaneze Ndigbo among others.This might in all probability be the feeling of Elaigwu (2005 12) when he writes the violent protests in the Niger-Delta ov er sensed injustice in resource distri aloneion the Itsekiri-Ijaw delirium in the Delta the recommencement of the Ife-Modakeke communal abandon the menace of Odua Peoples Congress (OPC) and the accompanying violence in Lagos and Shagamu beas the formation of the Arewa Peoples Congress (APC) and the Igbo Peoples Congress (IPC) the MASSOB feeble attempt to come to Biafra the Sharia crisis and the demands for a confederation the South-South demand for the control of its resources and all the recent interethnic/religious conflicts in various assures across the country are all part of the bubbles of the Nigerian federation.They are based on the historical structures of uncouth fears and suspicions among Nigerian groups in a competitive process. They reflect dissatisfaction of Nigerian groups with the state of the federation. With the emergence of all these ethnic militias and the deep divide between the various ethnic groups, religious intolerance became more violent and bloody with more devastating results using the ethnic militias as the executing platforms of ethno-religious agenda. Federalism thought to be an approach to national unity, resulted to anarchy in the country.A number of steps were taken to at least mend the disunity and disarray prevalent then and promote unity among the various ethnic groups. These included the establishment of federal institutions in some states of the federation, promotion of national cultural and sporting activities, and, more significantly, the National Youth Service Programme (NYSC), just to mention a few (Adebayo, 2010). Although these steps yielded pockets of successes in achieving national unity, the un hallowed marriage of convenience of the ethnic groups still begs for irrevocable divorce. While the ethnic rivalry held sway, religious pluralism, which culminated in many crises, shook the country to its very roots.The pernicious incumbrance of this trend is not entirely surprising given the fact that piety is so sensitive to Nigerians that many are not totally wangle to defend it at all costs, but are ready to die for it. Hence, religious pluralism which resulted in religious intolerance was fused with ethnic rivalry, producing the repeated spate of ethno-religious crises. And because of the violent nature of ethno-religious conflicts, which often take the form of riots, sabotage, assassinations, lynch and maiming, kidnappings, armed struggles, guerilla warfare and secession in Nigeria, they undoubtedly pose dangerous threats to democracy in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.Yes, as Jega (2007 116) truthfully stated, the genetically engineered seeds of democracy planted by our colonial masters and boost successive military regimes have grown to mature crops for harvest. Instead of democracy yielding peace, stability and security to lives and property, it seems to have yielded a return, full pass around spate of ethno-religious conflicts and violent eruptions. Thus, the discussion of ethn o-religious conflicts in whatever context becomes all the more necessary given the fact that there is a phenomenal recurrence of these conflicts around the nation thereby increasing its threat take to democratic consolidation in Nigeria.It is against this backdrop that this paper attempts to probe the history, manifestations and implications of ethno-religious crises in Nigeria since the dawn of democratic dispensation. Causes of Ethno-Religious Crises in Nigeria According to Awolowo (1990 35), the notion of Nigeria as a mere geographic expression was engendered by the forceful packaging by colonial authoritarian fiat of unwilling communities of diverse origin and culture under the same polity. Consequently, relations and political behavior of the peoples are characterized by mutual suspicion and invidious hatred since they are strange bed-fellows, who were only coerced into the nation-state via amalgamation. Until 1960, Nigeria was a British colony.Like most colonies, it was not c onstructed for internal coherence, but rather for the administrative convenience of the British (Shively, 1997 39). Over 400 different languages and dialects are spoken within its borders, and there is in like manner an important religious split, as the north is primarily Muslim and the south is predominantly Christian, making her not only at ethno-religious crossroads but also at linguistic crossroads. As diverse as these ethnic groups are, they are also not accommodative of each others religion and professions of faith. This state of intolerance has added up to fuel the spate of crises in Nigeria. It should be notable that religion has always been the platform for frontal expressions of ethnic aggressions and conflict.Hence, ethnocentric politics, sectional solidarity and primordial interests became prominent features in the nations political practice. sectional and individual virtues and interest rather than collective virtues and national unity are advanced and exalted. Thus , communal orientation precluded any attachment to the state and the syndrome of the intelligence of the soil took preference over merit and competence in the selection of policies and leaders. Although as Obasanjo and Mabogunje (1992 4) aptly observed, colonialism provided scaffolding of holding the different communities together, not much change was achieved in altering communal mind and predilection.Nonetheless, the persistent military incursion into government and politics did much harm for the body polity as national issues was mostly tribalized and primordial virtues extolled. These regimes had primordial outlook and sub-national mentality under which the northern part of the country was favoured brazenly, on one hand, and the Confederate part was deliberately dealt with in terms of appointments, contracts, location of government establishments, political oppression and repression as well as provision of social operate and infrastructures. As a result, ethnic sectarianism has left a raceway of destructive violence and even threatened the territorial integrity of Nigeria (International add for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 2001).Indeed, after long years of authoritarian rule, when the military clique and their civilian collaborators privatized the Nigerian state (Ukiwo, 2003), politicians in the emergent quaternary Republic were all too anxious to claim control of the state and its oil wealth as well. This thus led to an unbridled rival for political relevance and spheres of interests among politicians, especially in the context of the division of the country into geopolitical zones, states and local governments and the fact that distribution of benefits among the political class depended on the ability of each member of the ruling class to deliver his constituency.This lust for power has led to the neglect of the needs of the masses and the demand for tranquil co-existence. Instead, the rulers continue to enrich their pockets through corru pt dirty means and test for elongation of tenures for selfish gains. In the circumstance, ethnicity, religion and other sectarian identities are exploited, resulting in avoidable violent conflicts among component units of the country. The persistence of mass mendicancy and increasing income inequality, largely as a result of the transformation of the fortunes of politicians and their affiliate from jobless neighbors to emergency billionaires in less than two years after capturing power, have deepened popular alienation. It has also called into question the legitimacy since 1999.Consequently, some of the easiest things to do in contemporary Nigeria are to mobilize an assassin, vigilante, ethnic-cum-religious militia, rioter, crowd or rented pro-government demonstrator. The result could only be imagined. The power lust of the political cliche is one of the perceived causes of ethno-religious crises in Nigeria. Another reason responsible for ethno-religious crises in Nigeria is the premature interpretation by those who claim potence to the understanding of the holy books. If not so, one wonders why people act contrary to the teaching of the holy books (whether the Quran or the Bible) in matters pertaining to peaceful co-existence, unity and sanctity of life, and property.As it is a serious disease for someone who does not have a full grasp of the interpretation of any of the holy books to claim authority to intimacy, many of the so called religious leaders use their shallow knowledge to put up interpretations to suit their selfish ends banking on the ignorance of their followers. Lamenting on the wide gap between the teaching and practice of religion among its adherents, Adebayo (2003) cited in Adebayo (2010 219) identified some factors responsible for using religion as instrumental role of polarization, among which is leadership tussle, which also culminated in the proliferation of many denominations in the country.Also, sectarian jingoism, as well as exce ssive patriotism to ones religious sect, which consequently transformed to fanaticism, is another major factor contributing to this social menace. Salawu (2010) also noted that the failure of the Nigerian leaders to establish good governments, forge national integration and promote what can be called real economic progress, through deliberate and articulated policies, has led to mass destitution and unemployment. This has resulted into communal, ethnic, religious and class conflicts that have now characterized the Nigerian nation. Poverty and unemployment have therefore served as nursery bed for many ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria because the country now has a reservoir of poor people who warmongers as free-lance(a) fighters.What this means theoretically is that poverty and unemployment increase the number of people who are prepared to kill or be killed for a given ply at token benefit. This explains why all ethno-religious crises that ever occurred in Nigeria have a large turnout of people (including the under-aged) as fighters. Lastly and very importantly, and not the least, the ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria also have some historical precursor (Salawu, 2010). This is because many governmental actions during the colonial rule and after independence encouraged, to a large extent, the sowing of the seeds of ethno-religious conflicts that are found to be rampant in the Nigerian nation today.Over the years, many events in Nigeria have led to the politicization of mistrust, intolerance, violence and acrimonious relations between the mainly Moslem north and the Christian south of Nigeria. To this extent, there has been an unfortunate insertion of ethno-religious discrimination and incompatibility in the structures of the Nigerian State since the colonial period. The political events of the January 15, 1966 coup and the July 1966 counter-coup further fix ethno-religious configuration in Nigeria. This is because the killings and counter-killing that followed the coups which took ethnic and religious colorations as the Muslim henpecked tribes in the north were set against the Christian-dominated tribes of the southern region.