Africa is facing conflicts every day, most of which arise from ethnic and religious differences. These differences lead to people fighting over control of power, inequitable distributional of resources as well as economic decline. The differences have also led to tribal clashes. This article highlights the main causes of ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria.
Corruption and looting of public resources
The high level of corruption and looting of public resources is making conflict situation worse in Nigeria. This is because corruption generally affects the economic development of Nigeria negatively.
Mishandling of public resources makes poverty more rampant in most regions of Nigeria. Because of this, anger resulting from unfulfilled wishes of citizens inevitable.
Poverty and social injustices that come along with corrupt nations weaken social solidarity. Because of this, social and political hatred, as well as violence, replace national harmony.
To solve ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria, therefore, corruption needs to be dealt with because it is the main barrier towards achieving national unity.
The identity factor
The identity factor is one of the major causes of ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria. Identity, in this case, refers to the sense of belonging to a particular group. People belonging to different religious groups and ethnic groups are likely to have different interests.
Identity is creating conflicts because it leads to individuals engaging in the politics of identity. There are over 400 languages in Nigeria but only 3 are considered to be important. These languages are distributed in terms of political and social-economic status. Because of this, the language one speaks determines his/her social status in the society.
Ethnic and religious identity
Ethnic identity is therefore generated when different ethnic groups interact within a single political set-up. This kind of relationship creates the feeling of being one concerning other ethnic groups. Because of this, in-groups and out-groups are formed within these interactions. This, in turn, creates tension because most people at this point define themselves based on ethnic affinities.
Nigerians define themselves by religious and ethnic identities where each group wants to identify itself as superior to other groups.
There are conflicts among Christians Muslims leading to massive killings in the affected areas. Ethnic groups in Nigeria identify themselves with either Christianity or Muslim. Because of this, some groups are controlled by Muslims which is the dominant religion in those areas. These differences lead to conflicts leading to massive loss of lives and destruction of resources.
Christians’ anxiety about the possibility of domination of political space in Nigeria is creating tensions and violence. There is also fear that politically dominant Muslims may impose sharia law on Christians. Because of this, tensions that have resulted in the conflict were created in an attempt to do away with feelings of anxiety.
The use of religious solutions to solve socio-economic and political problems in Nigeria has led to more harm than good. A good example is the Boko Haram Islamist campaign which has massive killings.
Inadequate relationships between regions
Ethnic conflicts are mostly caused by inadequate relationships between different regions of South Africa. This is because of the ethnic and religious identities that most Nigerians identify Nigerians with.
Intolerance between religious groups also creates tensions among the existing groups in Nigeria. Religious struggles in Nigeria started in the middle of the 20th century. Because of this, rivalry among Christians and Muslims have been created and have existed for a long time.
The main reason behind inadequate relationships and intolerance between religious and ethnic groups is colonialism. This is because the colonial regime covered and maintained the existing rivalry groups.
Intolerance towards representatives of different religious groups is the main cause of religious conflicts because it is the reason for divisions in Nigeria.
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