ETHNO-RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCE, RECURRENT VIOLENCE AND PEACE BUILDING IN NIGERIA: FOCUS ON BAUCHI, PLATEAU AND KADUNA STATES
PROF. MUHAMMED TAWFIQ LADAN (Ph.D)
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC LAW, FACULTY OF LAW,
AHMADU BELLO UNIVERSITY, ZARIA, KADUNA STATE, NIGERIA
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BEING A KEYNOTE PAPER PRESENTED AT
VENUE: - AREWA HOUSE, KADUNA
DATE: - THURSDAY, 22 NOVEMBER, 2012
ETHNO-RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCE, RECURRENT VIOLENCE AND PEACE BUILDING IN NIGERIA: FOCUS ON BAUCHI, PLATEAU AND KADUNA STATES
Prof. Muhammed Tawfiq Ladan (PhD)
More than five decades ago, Nigerians felt the need, irrespective of their ethnic, religious, cultural, geographical, and economic differences, to support federalism as the best alternative system of government. They believed that the federalism principle satisfies the urge of the various entities to retain some of their cherished peculiar culture and tradition while, at the same time, enabling them to unite into one nation. In recent times, however, the federal system of government has witnessed serious strains arising from political, ethnic and religious conflicts.
One of the most disturbing developments is the involvement of certain youths in recent inter-ethnic and religious conflicts in Nigeria.
It is against this background that this paper aims at realizing the following objective: -
i. To identify the role of law in society, particularly, constitutional law in the above context;
ii. To explain why ethnicity or religion per se is not a source of conflict;
iii. To examine the constitutional recognition of the ethnic and religious diversity of Nigeria;
iv. To examine the nature of, and factors responsible for, the recurrent identity-based violent conflicts and collapse of building initiatives in Plateau, Kaduna and Bauchi States; and,
v. To conclude with some viable options for peace in Nigeria.
1. ROLE OF LAW IN SOCIETY
In its relationship with society, law is viewed as an instrument of social change or transformation by the sociological jurists. This is based on the premise that society in which law operates, must be of respect for the rule of law and human rights in order to have an orderly, stable and prosperous society.
That law in society can play three distinct roles: - a proscriptive, protective and instrumental roles.
i. In its proscriptive role, law is essentially concerned with proscribing certain forms of conduct and imposing sanctions as a consequence of non-compliance or breach of societal norms and values cherished most and selected for protection by the law of crimes in society.
ii. In its protective role, law seeks to protect individuals and groups from adversity consequent upon their status and vulnerability in society. Hence laws protecting against discrimination, marginalization, exclusion, disadvantage, injustices, inequities and socio-economic and political imbalances, labour, sexual and economic exploitation, abuses and other human rights violations of one’s privacy, human dignity etc are examples of this protective role.
iii. The instrumental role of law in society is perhaps the most far reaching and proactive, for it seeks more than just to regulate the relationships between individuals in society, but also to help change the underlying values and patterns of social interaction that create vulnerability of people to practices, policies, conflicts, epidemic etc in society.
The character of the Nigerian society that is founded on unity in diversity in order to pursue divergent interests and at times both competing and conflicting interests by various interest groups, needs the rule of law to always prevail in our society. This is necessary because without it the Nigerian society will not operate as an orderly, stable, secured and prosperous one.
2. ETHNICITY AS A SOURCE OF CONFLICT
An ethnic group, unlike other interest groups, is normally regarded as a human community that is distinguishable from others on the basis of obvious specific characteristics such as cultural, linguistic, religious, physical, and/or biological characteristics.
Research has shown that ethnicity per se does not necessarily create destabilizing effects for state and nation building.
Research has also shown that among the major factors responsible for the heightening of ethnic conflicts in Nigeria is obviously socio-economic imbalances or economics, which often translates into political terms. This is very much so not only in Nigeria, but also in Africa, because control of the political machinery creates easy access to the national wealth, not only for the individual in authority, but also for his immediate family members and ethnic group. Generally speaking, ethnicity as a source of conflict results from long and persistent periods of domination and unfair treatment or unresolved socio-economic and political imbalances, injustices and inequities by the politically dominant ethnic groups.
Where politicians are unable to mobilize their supporters on the basis of some ideological principles or other more universally unifying principles, the resort to ethnicity becomes very attractive. In the first place, such an approach “saves on organizational costs and secondly gives the political claims of a group the seal of social justice, at least among its ethnic members.” Political platforms become focalized around ethnic groups using assumed and actual ethnic grievances as their manifestoes. Furthermore, problems of everyday living and frustrations of irredeemable nature have exacerbated the rumblings of ethnic nationalism not only in Africa, but in the world at large.
In Nigeria, some degree of ethnicity always has exited among our people because of differences in language and custom. Historically, the various ethnic groups did not relate to one another in terms of hostility, but generally maintained friendly relations through trade and social contacts, except when some misunderstandings due to lack of communication or intolerance led to conflict.
3. RELIGION AS A SOURCE OF CONFLICT
Religion has been defined as a belief in God, the Creator of the whole Universe and all in it, to whom the worship, homage, and obedience of man is due. It is a mode of thinking, feeling, and acting which respects, trusts in, and strives after the Divine. Religion is a system of faith and worship, it is a way of life expressing love for and trust in God, and one will and effort to act according to the will of God.
The Holy Books of the two dominant and most widely spread religions in the world today (Islam and Christianity) have shown that religion per se does not necessarily create instability or destabilizing effects for nation-building. On the contrary, both Prophets Muhammed and Jesus, who received Divine inspirations from the Almighty God, presented religion to their followers and the rest of mankind as a means of upholding justice and equity; as an agent of stability, peace, love and unity of mankind; as a promoter of respect of the general human relations between men; and as a foundation for the brotherhood of man.
Generally speaking, religion as a source of conflict is the result of religious intolerance, fanaticism, and politics. In Nigeria, the case has consistently been made that Nigerians are a religious people and that whatever religion they practice, they all desire to live in peace and worship in peace.
4. UNDERSTANDING THE NATURE OF, AND FACTORS RESPONSIBLE FOR, IDENTITY-BASED CONFLICTS IN NIGERIA: - WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO BAUCHI, PLATEAU AND KADUNA STATES.
Identity-Based Conflicts (IBC) are conflicts rooted in people’s psychology, culture, basic values, shared history and beliefs. IBC is best explained by the psycho-cultural theory which shows how enemy images are created from deep-seated attitudes about human action that are learned from early stages of growth in the explanation of conflict. It contends, therefore, that even though there are different forms of identities, the one that is based on people’s ethnic origin and the culture that is learned on the basis of that ethnic origin is one of the most important ways of explaining violent conflict. Identity is thus seen to be the reason for social conflicts. Psycho-cultural conflict theorists argue that social conflicts that take long to resolve. However, despite their belief that ethnicity is the biggest source of identity-based conflicts, those who hold this view agree that this does not mean that conflict is unavoidable whenever that are ethnic differences become a possibility when some groups are discriminated against or deprived of satisfaction of their basic (material) and psychological (non-material) needs on the basis of their identity.
The human needs theory describe the process by which an individual or group seeks to satisfy a range of needs (physical, psychological, social, economic and spiritual) moving from the basic ones such as food, shelter and water to the highest needs that they described as ‘self-actualization’ – the fulfillment of one’s greatest human potential. Scholars in this area see the recognition and protection of identity as the most important even though there are other equally important needs for physical security, food, political and economic empowerment and self-esteem.
It has been noted that social conflicts that take long to resolve are identity-driven and grow out of the feelings of powerlessness and memories of past persecution. A history of humiliation, oppression, victimization, feelings of inferiority complex which wear away a person’s dignity and self-esteem and lead people to resort to vengeance constitute part of what has been referred to as the ‘pathological dimensions of ethnicity’.
The needs of love and self-esteem among other non-material needs are part of a sense of security and safety that individuals need for normal development; hence, when people feel they are threatened, the reaction is usually unpredictable. The fears that individuals and groups experience force them to see threats - whether real or imagined-, and to suspect the motive of others around them. This tendency to see things in a selective way is mostly due to a past history of competition for access to power and scarce resources in which way the opposition most often comes out as winners.
4.1 Factors Responsible for the Recurrent Violent Conflicts and Collapse of Peace-Building Initiatives in Plateau, Kaduna and Bauchi States
Instances of major ethno-religious conflicts since the 1980s include: -
1) Plateau State: - (Mambilla/Banso/Kamba/Fulani violent attacks in Mambilla Plateau-early 1980s; the Jos indigene/settler conflicts in April 1994, September 2001 and the unending cycle of violent conflicts/carnage/recrimination in Jos (2001 to date);
2) Bauchi State: - Tafawa Balewa (1977, 1991, 1993) and the recurrent violent outbursts;
3) Kaduna State: - Kafanchan (1987), Zangon Kataf (1992) and the recurrent violent conflicts: - Are all manifestations of identity-based conflicts arising from indene/settler syndrome, elite politicization or manipulation of ethnicity and religion for selfish ends, and the struggle for access to political power and resources at all levels of governance.
Factors responsible for the recurrent violent conflicts and collapse of peace-building initiatives in Plateau, Kaduna and Bauchi States include the following: -
1. The crisis of citizenship and indigene/settler syndrome – arising from the struggle by the elites over access to local power and resources.
2. Identity-based/conflicts manifesting in the perceived practice of discrimination and exclusion from participation in socio-economic and political decision-making processes affecting the lives of marginalized and disadvantaged groups results from historical imbalances, injustices and inequities.
3. Politicisation of ethnicity and manipulation of religion for selfish ends.
4. Ethno-religion intolerance and lack of a culture of peace
5. Negative role of the media in conflict reporting.
6. Unaddressed problem of the deculturised youths and the paradoxes of Nigeria: This factor stems from the unaddressed problem of the deculturised youths, who could become potential recruit into the terrorist cells. The deculturised youths, inter alia, suffer from poverty, unemployment, destitution, lack of education, or even, disillusionment after education and ultimately become frustrated and alienated from society. This reserve of individuals thereby become ready to put their own and other peoples’ lives at risk in the carrying out of especially violent crimes in society. This class of youths sees no one being interested in them, and they, have no approval reference point anymore within the legitimate society. Therefore, organized criminal syndicates certainly finds them useful, and usually gives them help, protection, and an element of identification with an authority figure, but harnessing their aggressive and destructive drives for the benefit of their syndicates.
A nation full of paradoxes ranging from: - a land of poverty in the midst of plenty; widening income inequality, rising high cost of governance to growing insecurity and unemployment rates amongst educated, able-bodied and combat ready youths/graduates of secondary and tertiary institutions.
First, is the paradox of Nigeria: - a land of poverty, high unemployment rate, endemic corruption and wide income inequality, in the midst of plenty. According to the 2007 Human Rights Watch Report, the endemic nature of corruption in Nigeria has led to the loss of US Dollars 380 billion between 1960-1999. A Global Financial Integrity Initiative Report dated January 2011 estimated that US$ 130 billion dollars worth of illicit financial dollars to the fuel subsidy racket alone brings our national loss due to corruption to over $500 billion dollars between 1960 and 2011. Hence, corruption diverts resources into graft-rich public works projects, at a cost to education and health services. Corruption destroys a nation’s social and human capital, by discouraging corruption is even more damaging than terrorism/insurgency, perhaps it is the single greatest obstacle to both human and national development.
Income inequality is another serious problem. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), in 2010 65% of Nigeria’s wealth is owned by just 20% of the population (i.e. 32 million out of 160 million). Thus 80% of the population share between them only about one third (1/3) of the nation’s wealth.
Nigeria is richly endowed with human and natural resources particularly oil and gas as well as 34 solid mineral resources such as gold, coal and sulphur. With a nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $280 billion dollars in 2011, Nigeria is the second largest economy in Africa; the sixth fastest growing economy in Africa with a Real GDP economic growth rate of 6.9% in 2011; the largest producer of oil in Africa and the seventh largest in the world in 2011. With a population of about 160 million in 2011, Nigeria is by far the most populous country in Africa, accounting for 47% and 2% of West Africa’s and global population respectively.
Despite this rich human and natural resource endowment, Nigeria’s GDP per capita is only $1,200 dollars; average life expectancy at 51.9%, average years of schooling at 5.0% rate and poverty is widespread, with about 70% of the population living below the poverty line in 2011. Hence, Nigeria was ranked by the UNDP 2011 Report on UN quality of life/Human Development Index as the 156 out of 187, among the “least human development” countries globally in terms of income, education and life expectancy.
Despite a plethora of development policies and programmes, Nigeria’s level of economic development over the past five decades has been disappointing. The country’s economy is dominated by the primary production sector, with agriculture, which is predominantly practiced by peasantry with low and declining productivity, accounting for 41.6% of GDP, followed by crude oil 15% in 2011, while the secondary sector, especially manufacturing, has stagnated at 3.7 to 3.9% of GDP in 2011. This makes Nigeria one of the least industrialized countries in Africa.
For an agricultural nation, it is a paradox that 41% of Nigerians, nearly 70 million (out of 160 million), are classified as “food poor” in 2010. The zonal distribution tells a deeper story. About 52% of the people living in the North-West and North-East, 39% of the North-Central, 41% of the South-East, 36% of the south-South and 25% of the South-West are hardly able to feed themselves.
Hence, the paradox of Nigeria with widespread and endemic poverty in the midst of plenty. The question then is, Why does the second wealthiest nation in Africa and a country not lacking in resources or manpower, have a human development index that is lower than the average in Sub-Saharan Africa? Why do the great majority of Nigerians lack access to clean and safe water, electricity and other basic necessities? Why are over 14 million educated youths unemployed, forcing them to engage in fraudulent and cybercrimes?
Though Nigeria is a country of paradox, overall, the country has the potential to build a prosperous economy, reduce poverty significantly, and provide the basic social and economic services its population needs. However, several years of military rule, poor public expenditure management, over-dependence on oil and unmitigated rent-seeking behavior to amass wealth from the nation’s treasury have conspired to undermine the country’s development.
5. CONSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION OF THE ETHNIC AND RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY IN NIGERIA
Without doubt, the framers of the 1999 Constitution, like all the previous constitutions, had the intention of using the provisions on citizenship and fundamental rights to promote the national political objectives of building a united and free society for all Nigerians, and to as much as possible, promote reciprocal obligations between state and citizens. This is in keeping with the vision of the founding fathers of modern Nigeria as espoused in the anti-colonial struggle, which led to the attainment of independence on October 1, 1960. These objectives re-echoed in many important national documents such as the Second National Development Plan and the various constitutions of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Second national development Plan clearly states that the goal of national development is to build a strong and buoyant economy, a free, democratic and egalitarian society in which no one is oppressed on the basis of sex, ethnic and religious differences.
The provisions on Citizenship and Fundamental Rights in the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria are contained in chapters 3 and 4 respectively. The most salient provisions are as follows. Chapter 3 which focuses on Citizenship basically contains provisions relating to citizenship by birth, registration and naturalization in addition to provisions relating to dual citizenship, renunciation and deprivation of citizenship. While chapter 4 provides a detailed checklists of the fundamental rights which are the entitlements of Nigerian citizens. These include the right to life, right to the dignity of the human person, the right to personal liberty as well as the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, right to freedom of expression and the press, the right to freedom from discrimination, the right to freedom of movement and the right to acquire and own immovable property.
As can be gleaned from the above, there is nothing to suggest that the enjoyment of these rights have discriminatory application. A reading of other relevant provisions of the constitution lends credence to the point that the promotion of the political objectives of national integration and cohesion are of central concern to the constitution. For instance, Chapter 2, Section 14(3) provides as follows:
The composition of the Government of the Federation or any of its agencies and the conduct of its affairs shall be carried out in such a manner as to reflect the Federal Character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity, and also to command national loyalty, thereby ensuring that there shall be no predominance of persons from a few states or from a few ethnic or other sectional groups in that government or any of its agencies.
However, this provision has made it more convenient for the aspiring politicians and ambitious elite to hang on to birth and descent criteria to determine citizenship.
Section 14(4) calls on the states and local governments in the country to implement the federal character principle. Furthermore, Section 15(3) of the same chapter states that: “For the purpose of promoting national integration, it shall be the duty of the state to (a) provide adequate facilities for and encourage free mobility of people, goods and services throughout the Federation’ (b) secure full residence rights for every citizen in all parts of the Federation.” It is also instructive to note that the Constitution allows anyone to contest election anywhere he/she wishes, as indigeneity is not a requirement for election into such bodies as the Senate, the Federal House of Representatives, or the State Houses of Assembly. The 1999 Constitution goes further to encourage “inter-marriage among persons from different places of origin, or of different religious, ethnic or linguistic associations or ties in Section 15 (3c).
What seem problematic however is the constitutional provisions regarding the implementation of the federal character principle.
In this sense the most problematic aspect of the issue of citizenship derives from the way in which the ‘indigeneity’ clause in the 1979 constitution has tended to legitimize discriminatory practices against Nigerians of certain ethnic and linguistic backgrounds especially for those who reside within a state, which is “not their own”. According to the constitution, “indigeneship” of a state is conferred on a person whose parents or grandparents were members of a community indigenous to a particular state.
The 1999 Constitution which resulted from the amendment of the 1979 Constitution, despite the recognition of the controversy generated by the “indigeneity” clause, retained it in similar sections regarding the implementation of the federal character principle. The caveat to Section 147 regarding the appointment of Ministers seem to suggest that the notion of “indigeneity” can hardly be expunged from the constitution. It states: “Provided that in giving effect to the provisions aforesaid the President shall appoint at least one Minister from each state, who shall be an indigene of such state. (emphasis added). What this means in effect is that, Nigerians who cannot prove that they are indigenes of a state cannot be appointed into such ministerial positions no matter the length of their residence.
The implication is that a tension exists between the formal provisions in the constitution on citizenship and fundamental rights on the one hand, and the practical application of these rights because of notions such as “indigenes”, “natives” and “settlers”. These categories have tended to undermine the very essence of Nigerian citizenship in the sense that one is not really a citizen of Nigerian, but only a citizen of the place to which he/she is indigenous. The result is that it has created a multi-layered system of citizenship as follows:
i. Those most privileged are those who belong to the indigenous communities of the state in which they reside.
ii. Those citizens who are indigenes of other states are less favoured.
iii. The least favoured are those citizens who are unable to prove that they belong to a community indigenous to any state in Nigeria.
iv. Women who are married to men from states other their own are in a dilemma as they can neither be accepted in their “states of origin” or that of their husbands.
In addition to these, it is particularly difficult for migrants in rural locations to have access to farmlands because indigeneity implies membership of the local ethnic community which also gives undue power to the traditional ruler in regulating access to land understood as the collective, natural possession of the ethnic group. Hence the practical use of the terms “indigenes”, “natives” and “settlers” are at conflict with the idea and practice of national citizenship in Nigeria.
What all this means is that the ethnic category on which the definition of citizenship hinges is a very fluid category. It partly explains why the political disputations arising from contradictory notions of citizenship often leads to conflict and violence. In some instances, the groups at conflict over such claims are not necessarily from different ethnic groups. The groups at conflict may thus be sub-ethnic communities of the same ethnic group as is the case of the recurrent Ife/Modakeke conflict.
The dilemma of citizenship created by notions such as “natives”, “indigenes” and by extension, “statism” is real.
This multi-layered system of citizenship breed confusion and controversy, it inhibits the development of national unity and the evolution of a harmonious political community. One obvious consequence is that it inevitably engenders discrimination in jobs, lands purchase, housing, and admission into educational institutions, marriages, business transactions, and the distribution of social welfare services. Many Nigerians are therefore forced to limit their social and political horizons as the only levels of realizing the essence of citizenship is the lowest level of identity.
6. THE CHALLENGE OF ADDRESSING THE IMPACT OF ETHNO-RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS AND INSECURITY IN NIGERIA
Conflict creates enormous insecurity in the society with tremendous impact on individuals, social groups, communities and the nation in general. The impacts include:
· Loss of lives and property: examples include the recent tit for tat in the Jos carnage 2009-2011 and in Bauchi, Kaduna, Kano, Borno and Yobe States.
· Social dislocations and displacement – Examples would include the recent forced displacement of about 550,000 IDPs between 2009 and 2011 from Plateau, Bauchi and Kaduna States (See NCFR 2011 Report; NEMA 2010-2011 Report on IDPs in Nigeria).
· Social tensions and new patterns of settlement – Muslims moving to Muslim dominated areas and Christians migrating to Christian dominated areas in Plateau, Bauchi and Kaduna States.
· Crisis over the question of citizenship. Hostility between ‘indigenes’ and ‘settlers’.
· Disruption of family and communal life
· General atmosphere of mistrust, fear, and frenzy
· Dehumanization of women and children e.g. Rape, child neglect/abuse in IDP camps;
· Deepening of hunger and poverty in the society
· Atmosphere of political insecurity and instability including declining confidence in the political leadership and apprehension about the system.
Hence the challenge is how to address effectively the above mentioned impact.
7. THE CHALLENGE OF ADDRESSING THE NEGATIVE ROLE OF COMMUNICATION/THE PRESS IN CONFLICT SITUATIONS
In a multiethnic and multi-religious Nigerian society, a conflict may be defined as a breakdown in communication between two or more parties of differing ethno-religious and political backgrounds. Hence, communication plays significant roles in the determination of the phases of a conflict. It can push a conflict in a constructive or destructive direction. E.g., the use of provocative or confrontational or derogatory remarks/language in ethno-religious and political conflicts is often seen as part of the power game conflict. More often than not, each party to a dispute considers it strategically beneficial to demonize the other party. The more evil things are said about the other party, the more it is assumed that the battle is won.
Media reports of conflict situations in Nigeria have hardly changed since the first republic. A lot of biases and prejudices, which of course can only cause more problems, are brought to bear on news reporting in different parts of the country.
The problem is compounded when the role of the press in a conflict situation is seen to be that of “rumor mongering,” distortion of the truth with the intent of destroying a party in the dispute, misrepresenting the opinion of one person for the opinion of a group to which he belongs, subjectively quoting people out of context, reporting from only one side of the conflict and thus misleading the readers to believe that only that perspective is available and right, use of language that is pervaded by the doctrine of ethnic nationalism, dramatization of conflict situations, and heroization of violence with a view to selling more copies of their newspapers or magazines, etc.
A case is not being made here for the suppression of the truth by journalists in the attempt to prevent violent conflict. What is advocated is that journalists should be objective in their reporting, though it was recently observed, “an objective scientist or journalist cannot exist.” Journalists can achieve a good measure of objectivity by providing unbiased coverage of both sides in the conflict, presenting all facts considered to be true, and not taking sides by what they write.
8. CONCLUSION AND VIABLE OPTIONS FOR NIGERIA
It is evident from the above analysis that although ethno-religious diversity has its negative consequences, it is not without merit. Hence maintaining the argument that neither ethnicity nor religion per se is a source of conflict except where either one is politicized or manipulated for selfish gains or due to intolerance by the disputants.
The law, especially constitutional law, could be used as a progressive vehicle for the prevention and management of the root causes of conflicts and for the achievement of unity in diversity by adopting the following viable options as the way forward.
9. WHICH WAY FORWARD FOR PEACE IN NIGERIA
The lesson we have attempted to convey is that in situations of conflict, no matter the type, disputants should watch what they say or write. Confrontational language or adjectives should be avoided as much as possible, rather, each party to the dispute should use language that leaves some room for peaceful settlement of the disputes. The use of ambivalent language, could lead to the escalation of conflicts. Therefore, the parties to a dispute should select their language so that they are not misinterpreted.
Something particular has to be said about the role of the media in peace building and peacemaking. The constructive role of the media in a conflict situation is to help educate people about what is going on, control dangerous rumors that could get out of hand and produce violence, and provide a trusted source of information for all sides. This objective is often difficult in situations where journalists give more attention to sensational news reporting that enables them sell more copies of their papers than to patriotic considerations. It must be noted, however, that there are situations where Nigerian journalists are denied access to news from all sides of ethnic and religious conflicts in the country. They therefore often have to report from whatever perspective is best available to them. This does not mean that some of them do not deliberately suppress the truth in a selfish attempt to put one of the parties to the dispute in a bad light. The latter does not help peace development and needs to be avoided.
Much work needs to be done to educate the public on the need for tolerance and peaceful coexistence in a multireligious society such as Nigeria. That we are part and parcel of a changing world, and that the process is a continuing one from which fresh and exacting challenge will emanate periodically, should be matters of national discourse and understanding. Accordingly, the sharp edges of ethnicity, statism, and religion should be gradually curtailed or be eliminated with a view to fostering growth and development of Nigerian citizenship and nationality. Surely, religious or ethnic annihilation or cleansing is one wrong alternative of operating or understanding the rich diversity of the Nigerian federation.
The importance of youth in Nigeria’s social development need not be overlooked; they (15-30-year-olds) make up about 59 percent of the population and constitute more than 45 percent of the country’s productivity sector. Analyses of the role and manipulation/exploitation of the youth in the three decades of ethnic and religious conflicts done by this writer elsewhere reveal serious gaps in societal responsibility toward its future generation. In the context of Nigeria’s history, the youths have rendered valuable positive contributions to the struggle for independence and national development. They constitute a reservoir of energy and dynamism when properly guided and fully integrated into the social fabric of society. Equally, they may also constitute a threat to the national survival and stability if allowed to drift, to become unemployed, intolerant, or without moral upbringing. Once the youths’ innate potentials are fully developed and nurtured, they will serve as an immense asset to the nation, transmitting knowledge, leadership skills, ambition, and dreams that promote both conflict and productivity.
With appropriate training and guidance, youths can meet the manpower needs of the country and, if they are able to develop talents and are inculcated with a sense of responsibility, they can make positive contribution to national development. It is in recognition of this fact that attention is being drawn to the need for Nigerian youths to be provided with the following:
1. Opportunities for self-fulfillment;
2. Scope and outlet for their patriotism, commitment, and enthusiasm;
3. Employment opportunities;
4. Moral guidance, discipline, and selfless service;
5. Opportunities so that they can be seen, heard, and listened to;
6. Orientation to promote the interest and defend the unity of Nigeria;
7. Educational opportunities to enable them develop their potentialities to the fullest; and
8. Opportunities to meet one other, exchange ideas, and study the country’s diverse religions and cultures.
This comprehensive youth development program, if provided or vigorously implemented by the government in collaboration with the private sector, should resolve the many problems of youth crime and conflict in Nigerian society, and effectively orient youth for patriotic service to the nation and make them act as agents of stability, peace and tolerance.
9.1 Constitutional Reform Issues: - There is need for the political will to confront the issue of building a national citizenship in the country through a reform of the Nigerian constitution. With specific reference to the provisions on citizenship, suggested constitutional amendments are as follows:
i. There is need to add a new section after S. 31 e.g. Section 32 to be titled Residency Rights. The new section should provide that a Nigerian citizen who has resided continuously for a period of five or ten years in any state of the federation and performs his/her civic duties including paying taxes, shall be entitled to all the rights and privileges of the state. This will be in accord with the practice in most federations, and will strengthen the provisions in the Constitution, which removes restrictions on, who can contest elections from where in the country.
ii. There is need to reform the proviso to Section 147 of the Constitution which states that those to be appointed Ministers from each State of the Federation must be indigenes of the State. In this sense, indigenes are defined as those who meet five or ten years residency requirement.
iii. There is need to state in express terms that a woman married to any man from a state other than her own should have the right to choose which of the states to claim as her own.
iv. As a means of promoting social citizenship, there is need to make the provisions on Social and Economic Rights justiciable. The import of this derives from the fact that lack of access of most Nigerians to the basic means of livelihood is at the root of the various communal strife in Nigeria.
v. There is need to entrench independent commissions in the constitution to monitor the implementation of some of the provisions in the constitution. Such commissions include Gender and Social Justice Commission, National Orientation and Mobilisation Commission and National Human Rights Commission with powers to investigate and punish. It is a requirement that such commissions be truly independent and funded from the Consolidated Fund.
9.2 Conflict Prevention and Peace - Building
The country has witnessed recurrent conflicts since the attainment of independence. Government response to these conflicts which is largely characterized by a “fire brigade” approach, points to the absence of a systematic and institutionalized way of obtaining early warming signal. If such is in place, it would be possible to anticipate conflicts by detecting the various flashpoints of violent conflicts that have torn many communities asunder.
For the purpose therefore, of designing effective conflict prevention and peace-building strategy, government needs to put in place the structure, requisite personnel and equipment for monitoring conflicts and transform existing conflict situations into enduring and sustainable peace.
However, it is a requirement for success that such conflict management schemes be inclusive to include community leaders (of both “settlers” and “natives”), religious leaders, traditional rulers, CBOs and NGOs involved in conflict management and human rights, intellectuals and researchers, and women groups and leaders.
In recognition of the role of the media in promoting conflicts through information (mis)management, it is necessary to expose media practitioners to the importance and need for moderation, less sensationalism, integrity and professionalism. This can be done through continuing peace education workshops and seminars aimed at sensitizing media practitioners to the national political objectives of building a united, strong and prosperous society in the context of diversity and pluralism.
9.3 Governance and Policy Issues
Apart from the constitutional issues identified above, there are issues that are located in the realms of governance and policy. The imperative of governance and policy issues arise from the larger economic and political context which frames ethno-religious and communal conflicts rooted in the crisis of citizenship. It is obvious that mass poverty and lack of access to the basic means of livelihood for most Nigerians contributes significantly to divisive politics based on the manipulation of ethnic and cultural differences. The absence of social citizenship therefore is a key issue that needs to be addressed by putting in place a framework of governance and public policy that can alleviate mass poverty and enhance the economic empowerment of the vast majority of the Nigerian people. Specific issues to pay attention are:
i. The need to strengthen democratic governance by promoting transparency and accountability. In this regard, government is called upon to strengthen the institutions for promoting accountability and transparency and ensuring that corrupt public officials are subjected to the full weight of the law.
ii. The need for government to promote vigorously economic policies that can galvanise the productive and creative energies of the Nigerian people as opposed to the pursuit of macro-economic policies imposed by the IMF and the World Bank which have the consequence of retarding growth and resulting in mass economic disempowerment of the Nigerian populace. Economic policies capable of providing the basis for sustainable human development must emphasis social welfare, poverty alleviation and popular participation.
iii. The need to promote equitable and balanced socio-economic development in the country by ensuring that resources are distributed in a manner that favours all the ethnic and regional homelands.
iv. There is need to demonstrate commitment to due process and the rule of law.
1) See Rothman, J., Resolving Identity-Based Conflicts: - In Nations, Organisations and Communities (San Francisco: - Jossey-Bass Publishers, USA, 1997, at p.18).
2) See Ross, M., (1993) The Management of Conflict: - Interpretations and Interests in comparative Perspective. New Haven: - Yale University Press, USA, at p.18.
3) See Burton, J., (1990) Conflict: - Human Needs Theory. London: - Macmillan.
4) See Lake, D., and Rothschild, D., ‘Containing Fear: - The origins and Management of Ethnic Conflict’, in International security, vol. 21, No. 2, Fall 1996.
5) See Rotimi, T.S., Ethnic Minority Conflicts and Governance in Nigeria (1996) Spectrum Books Ibadan, Nigeria, at pp.66-79.
6) See Ladan M.T. (2001): - ‘Constitutionalism and Challenges of Ethnic and Religious Diversity inn Nigeria’, in New Nigerian Newspapers, Kaduna, September 18, 2011 at pp.20-21.
7) See Ladan M.T., ‘Criminal Justice System and the New Security Challenges in Nigeria’, (2011) in New Nigerian Newspapers, Kaduna, Monday 12th and Wednesday 14th September 2011 at pp.20-21.
8) See Glowa, J.H.P., and Ojiji O.O. (ed.)(2008): - Dialogue on citizenship in Nigeria. Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, Abuja, Nigeria.
9) See National Planning Commission and National Bureau of Statistics, Abuja (2006): - Economic Performance Review at pp. 63-67, also see National Bureau of Statistics (2006-11): - CWIQ Survey Social Statistics Report (2009) and Nigeria in Figures.
10) National Bureau of Statistics, Abuja (2011) quoted the Statistician General of the Federal, Dr. Kale Oyeyemi, in the Daily Trust Newspaper, Abuja, Friday, January 6, 2012 at p. 20.
11) See National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Abuja (2011): - Records of IDPs in Nigeria: - October 2010 – October 2011). See also National Commission for Refugees (NCFR), Abuja (2011) Table 1, of the Federal Commissioner’s Presentation to the Canadian embassy delegation (Jan. 2011).
12) See Okoye, F. (ed.), 92000): - Victims: - Impact of Religious and Ethnic Conflicts on Women and Children in Northern Nigeria. Human Rights Monitor, Kaduna, at pp. xv and 8.
13) See Abdulkareem, M. and M. Haruna (ed.) (2010): - The Paradox of Boko Haram. Moving Image Publishers, Kano, Nigeria, at pp. 27-39.
14) See Ladan, M.T. “Role of Youth in Inter-Ethnic an Religious Conflicts: - The Kaduna/Kano Case Study”; See also Inter-Ethnic and Religious Conflict Resolution in Nigeria (ed.) E.E. Uwazie, I.O Albert, G.N. Uzoigwe, Lexington Books, Maryland, USA (1999) at pp.97-111.
15) Ladan M.T. (2012): - Impact of Insecurity in the North on Internally Displaced Persons and Migration Flows between Nigeria and Neighbouring Countries. Being a Paper Presentation made at the Forum of European Union Working Group on Migration and Development. Organized by the Delegation of European Union to Nigeria. Held at EU Meeting Room 1, (Portakabin) 21ST Crescent, off Constitution Avenue, CBD, Abuja on May 31, 2012.
16) See Otive 1 and Bamidele O. (ed.) Contentious Issues in the Review of the 1999 Constitution (2002) Citizens, Forum for Constitutional Reform, Lagos, at pp. 55-72.
17) See generally Adebayo Adedeji (ed.) Comprehending and Mastering African Conflict: The Search for Sustainable Peace and Good Governance (1999), Zed Books London in Association ACDESS, Ijebu Ode, Ogun State, Nigeria.