THE VIEWS OF STUDENTS ON ETHNIC CONFLICTS IN NIGERIA USING THE DEPARTMENT OF POLITICAL SCIENCE 100LVL STUDENTS OF LAGOS STATE UNIVERSITY OJO AS A CASE STUDY
Nigeria, as a multi ethnic nation, has continued to grapple with the challenges of curbing the incessant ethnic conflicts that have constituted a serious challenge and put the unity and peaceful co-existence of the various ethnic groups in the country at a risk.. This study examined the effects of ethnic conflicts on governance in Nigeria, with the aim of suggesting how ethnic plurality can serve as a centripetal rather than centrifugal force in the country. The population of the study were dawned from 100 respondents from 100level students of Lagos State university Ojo, department of political science using simple random sampling techniques. Finally ,the study revealed the following as one of the numerous ways of curbing the issues of ethnic conflicts in Niger, they are through :Economic, cooperation, Political and state cooperation, Youth education and Secular activities.
1.1 Background To The Study
An ethnic conflict is a conflict between two or more contending ethnic groups. While the source of the conflict may be political, social, economic or religious, the individuals in conflict must expressly fight for their ethnic group’s position within society. This final criterion differentiates ethnic conflict from other forms of struggle.
Ethnic conflict does not necessarily have to be violent. In a multi-ethnic society where freedom of speech is protected, ethnic conflict can be an everyday feature of plural democracies. For example, ethnic conflict might be a non-violent struggle for resources divided among ethnic groups. However, the subject of the confrontation must be either directly or symbolically linked with an ethnic group. In healthy multi-ethnic democracies, these conflicts are usually institutionalized and “channelled through parliaments, assemblies and bureaucracies or through non-violent demonstrations and strikes.” While democratic countries cannot always prevent ethnic conflict flaring up into violence, institutionalized ethnic conflict does ensure that ethnic groups can articulate their demands in a peaceful manner, which reduces the likelihood of violence.
On the other hand, in authoritarian systems, ethnic minorities are often unable to express their grievances. Grievances are instead allowed to fester which might lead to long phases of ethnic silence followed by a violent outburst. Therefore, ethnic peace is an absence of violence, not an absence of conflict. Another consequence is that violent ethnic rebellions often result in political rights for previously marginalized groups(Wikipedia).
Nigeria is synonymous with deep divisions which cause major political issues to be vigorously and violently contested along the lines of intricate ethnic and regional divisions. Issues that raise the most dust are those regarded essential for the existence and the validity of the state. Opposing and contending assemblages have a tendency to assume an exclusionary winner-take-all approach. These issues include the control of state power, allocation of resources and citizenship. As a result, states with such divisions are disposed to be delicate and unstable because almost by definition, they have very little in common with regard to convergence and harmony which are necessary to reduce the centrifugal forces that rip them apart (Osagha and Suberu2005:4).
Therefore, breakdown, breakaway, civil strife, civil war, minority nervousness, and violent clashes, all of which would typically be regarded unusual in normal states are common forces or actual occurrences in divided states(Osagha and Suberu2005:4). Because of a complicated network of politically silent identities, coupled with a history of protracted and seemingly stubborn wars and instability, Nigeria is high on the list as one of the most unstable states in Africa. Since its independence, Nigeria has been driven hither and thither by recurrent crises of regional or state illegitimacy, often impairing efforts at democratisation, stability, economic transformation and national cohesion. A peak of the crisis appears to have occurred during the civil war of the 1960s, which began shortly after independence(Okpanachi2010). Since 1999 when Nigeria transited into civilian rule, the country has witnessed a rapid increase in the number of conflicts.
Nigeria is one of the most ethnically complex countries in the world with more than 250 ethnic groups within a population of over 180 million; it is also Africa’s most populous country. The four main ethnic groups are the Hausa, the Yoruba, the Ibo, and the Fulani. The Hausa and the Fulani are in the north, the Yoruba are concentrated in the west, and the Ibo live in the east. Further complicating ethnicity in Nigeria is politics and religion. The northern part is dominated by Muslims; and the southern and eastern regions are populated mainly by Christians. The petroleum wealth is located in the predominantly Christian Ibo region of the east.
The southeast and the Hausa have ruled the country for most of its history and controlled the military regimes. The Yoruba of the west blame the northerners for the country’s political and economic problems.
The ethnicization of politics for purposes of constitutional experimentation has turned out to be a powerful obstacle to the working of Nigerian federalism. Because Nigerian federalism is based on ethnic and not geographical diversities, it has tended to exacerbate centrifugal forces in the country.
One of the numerous reasons for the adoption of a federal system of government by countries is to provide an enabling platform for extraordinary diversities and the multi-ethnic groups that exist in such federations. Nigeria is a country of extraordinary diversities and complexities. This complexity is a reflection of avalanche of ethno-cultural and religious groups co-habiting the territories and intricacies of interaction among these various ethnic groups. Nigeria’s ethnic composition is estimated to be between250 and over 400. Nigeria has since independence been marked by varied ethnic crisis. Ethnic and cultural pluralism has become the hallmark of the country federalism.
However, the type of federalism, the country is operating, has given rise to the various endemic ethnic crises in Nigeria. Violence, in whatever form, is inimical to the attainment of goals of federalism. In federal system of government, certain forms of crises are frequent; this includes political and constitutional crises that bother on the exact division of power and responsibility between the federal and state governments. Another common form of conflict is that between states and federal interests, or between the interests and aspirations of different ethnic groups in the country. In some federations, the entire jurisdiction is relatively homogeneous and each constituent state resembles a miniature version of the whole. This is known as “Congruent Federalism”; on the other hand, incongruent federalism exists where there are distinct ethnic groups like Nigeria.
In all the crises inherent in a federal system of government, ethnic violence is a serious problem because it hinders sustainable national development. It is also divisive and hinders unanimity of purpose and goal attainment. It’s very pertinent to mention from the very outset that ethnic problems prevailing across the globe are really good topic on which the research could be done. If this problem of ethnicity will not be taken into account, then, definitely its repercussions and ramifications would be hazardous and dangerous. The main approach which is needed to be adopted in this dilemma is the process of devolution and decentralization of power to the different ethnicities. Ethnic violence and ethnic conflicts creates internal disturbances within the country, it is more dangerous in form and in its nature. It can be said that alien attack could be easily tackled, but this problem of ethnic conflict is very tough to control. It needs a soft policies and healing touch policies in order to remove the violence (Pummel, 1976:223).
1.2 Statement of problem
Consequently, the nation continued to remain polarized along ethnic division. Suspicion, hatred, lack of trust and discrimination have often characterized the relationship between the people of different ethnic groups in the country, thereby robbing the nation of true national loyalty or unity. Unexpectedly, the country has been riddled with myriads of violent ethnic crisis of different proportion such as theZagon/Kataf crisis in Kaduna State, the Tiv/Jukun crisis in Taraba State, Hausa/Birom crisis in Plateau State. Ife/Modakeke upheavals in Oyo State, Hausa/Yoruba in Lagos and Ogun States, Igbo/Hausa in Kano, and Kaduna States among others, and even a civil war (1967-1970). These crises have gone a long way to threaten the social fabric of the nation.
A nation that is bedevilled with ethnic crisis cannot but experience monumental loss of lives, destruction of property and refugee crisis, that often divert the attention of government from the business of governance to crisis management. It is against this backdrop that the study seeks the views of students on ethnic conflicts in Nigeria using the department of political science 100lvl students of Lagos State university ojo as a case study
1.3 Objectives of the study
The objective of this study is to:
1. Highlight and examine the views of the students on ethnic conflicts in Nigeria
2. To see how far informed they are about ethnic conflicts in Nigeria
3. To Sensitise the ignorant ones about the dangers of ethnic conflicts
4. To also air their opinions on how to curb the ongoing rage of ethnic conflicts.
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