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The Nigerian conflict is more political than it is ethno-religious


Nigeria, specifically in plateau, has been a hotbed for tensions between the Fulani who are predominantly Muslims and Berom who are Christians. The conflict has escalated over the years and the government has been disregarding the matter and now the conflict has grown until the government cannot even take control of the situation (COI, 2013). Due to the ineffective and weak government, rebellion has increasingly taken route in Nigeria. however   the wider population of the country is against the violence. Boko Haram is the main group that placed itself as the main social critic of the government. The extremist group wants to implement the shariat law in the north and to wipe out the western influence in Nigeria and the group pursue this in violent ways (COI, 2013). The military has taken over the government to stop violence and appease the population (Aljazeera, 2012). “Nigeria is a country of significant promise, but it also faces serious social, economic, and security challenges that have the potential to threaten the stability of both the state and the region, and to affect global oil prices. Since independence, the country has faced political turmoil and economic crises on several occasions. Despite its extensive oil and natural gas resources, Nigeria’s human development indicators are among the world’s lowest. The majority of the population suffers from extreme poverty” (Burleigh, 2013). Thousands have been killed in periodic ethno-religious clashes in the past decades (Aljazeera, 2012).  Nigerian conflict is more political than it is ethno-religious due to poverty and high rate of unemployment, corruption in the oil-producing Niger Delta that has worsen the crisis and the fight over power and land between Christians and Muslims sects (Aljazeera, 2012).

“Terrorism, as well as the tensions between the people are more like to emerge and take route the country are not delivering for their people. The more the government is giving opportunity, resolve conflict in regular democratic process the less people of Nigeria will take terrorism route. The less frustrated and violent will become.  However some extremists group that will not compromise or work through democratic process should be dealt accordingly…” said Baraka Obama in a Town hall meeting with Nigerian Young African leaders (Pilot Africa, 2013).

Poverty and high unemployment rate

Despite extensive oil and natural gas resources, Nigeria’s human development indicators are among the world’s lowest and the majority of the population suffers from extreme poverty (Burleigh, 2013). Nigerian ongoing conflict between the Fulani and the Boromi is a result of the rate of poverty which is sweeping throughout Nigeria.  Muhammad Adow a reporter of Aljazeera reported that “the village of Fulani Muslims has been attacked by the Christians, Berom village”. These attacks have another hidden motives due to the fact that not all villagers in Berom village are necessarily Christians and all the villagers in Fulani are not Muslims. Both villages have many other religions namely Protestants, Adventist and so on. According to the COI reported that “The Library of Congress country Profile of Nigeria of July 2008 noted that: Muslims constitute the majority in the north and Christians the majority in the south. The remaining 10 percent of the population adheres to indigenous beliefs…” So these attacks do not only target the Christians or Muslims. They affect everyone in the Village regardless the religion  “These attacks are not just about Fulani Muslims and Berom Christians, it is about Muslims’ community atrocity, and these attacks have economic undertones” said Michael Amoah in the interview with Aljazeera. As pointed out by prof Lucy corking, a conflict resolution professor who has been in Nigeria on several occasions, that “Boko Haram is not a systematic problem, rebellion is a symptom of the inability of both federal government and state government to deliver a basic amount of social welfare,”.” unemployment and control of land are the major causes of tensions between the groups “said associate professor Darren Kew of Massachusetts in the interview with Aljazeera.

Corruption in the oil-producing Niger Delta have escalated the crisis in Nigeria

Corruption is a hindrance of the economics of Nigeria and it is the cause of discontents and tensions between the people of Nigeria (Aljazeera, 2012). Corruption in Nigeria is pervasive in economic and social sectors of the county: corruption is practiced by parents and lecturers. Furthermore Corruption is found in the award of contracts, promotion of staff, dispensation of justice, and misuse of public offices, positions, and privileges, embezzlement of public funds, public books, publications, documents, valuable security, and accounts. Corruption can be systematic in nature and affect the whole life of an organization or society (Ayobami, 2011). Below is the chart of the distribution of bribes across the main cities of Nigeria.

Source: 1

Of all corruptions in Nigeria, the corruption of oil has been a great catalyst of violence (Aljazeera, 2012). “70 per cent of Nigerians live below the poverty line of £1.29 a day, struggling with a failing infrastructure and chronic fuel shortages because of a lack of petrol refining capacity, even though their country produces more crude oil than Texas”(Burleigh, 2013). This conflict has cost the Nigerian government dearly. “As much as one million barrels’ worth of daily oil production has been shut in due to violence. This has severely reduced government revenue, affecting the entire country. Unrest in the Niger Delta has also frequently caused the world price of oil to spike. Meanwhile, a significant amount of oil is being regularly stolen through collusion be-tween militant groups, corrupt politicians, and other officials and the proceeds from the sale of this oil has financed a steadily increased sophistication of arms flowing to the militant groups. These groups are now capable of attacking offshore oil installations as well as onshore ones, and even at-tacking neighboring countries. Thus the problem has acquired a regional dimension” (NRC, 2010).  Moreover  “80% of the total wealth of  Oil revenues go to the government, which disburses cash to  individual governors and hundreds of their cronies, so  effectively these huge sums  remain in the hands of a  mere 1 per cent of the Nigerian population” (Burleigh, 2013). On top of that, Burleigh continues saying that the huge flow of oil wealth means does not rely on taxpayers for its income, so the government does not have to answer to people. thus people are becoming angrier and volatile due to the fact that Nigeria suffers from what economists call the ‘resource curse’ — the paradox that developing countries with an abundance of natural reserves tend to enjoy worse economic growth than countries without minerals and fuels. (Burleigh, 2013). The extreme poverty is what motivate the Nigerians to revolt and rebel against the government (Kew, 2012). “Nigeria is not quite the most corrupt country on earth. But according to Transparency International, which monitors international financial corruption, it is not far off — coming a shameful 172nd worst among the 215 nations surveyed” (BURLEIGH, 2013). The government uses conflict between the Muslims and Christian’s religions as a scapegoat of the ineffectively.

Fight over power and land of Christians and Muslims dimensions.

Ever since the period of transition to civilian rule and the government of the current president of Nigeria – Goodluck Jonathan(1999 – 2011), and when the president of Nigeria won the elections against former general Muhammadu Buhari, a northern Muslim and member of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), massive killings between the Muslim in the north and the Christians escalated(COI, 2013)  Muslims and Christians’ politicians have been vying for power and the fight over the power has exacerbated the crisis in Nigeria between the two religions (Daren, 2012). One of the reason that the two groups are always in endemic fights for power is to gain access over the country wealth so they can control their oppositions for instance Christians are largely in the south and they claim to be the indigenous, they have deprived the local minority who mostly are from the North and who are predominantly Muslims. They have deprived the local minority access to land, access to general elections and other (Aljazeera, 2012). As result, violence between the Fulani Muslims and Beroms Christians escalates. According to Alexis Garrett Stodghill (2011) “The attack was orchestrated by the home-grown Muslim terrorist group Boko Haram, a faction seen as expressing the frustrations many Muslims feel as a disenfranchised group. Even though oil-rich Nigeria is the largest African exporter of the resource to the U.S., most of the oil comes from the south which is populated by Christians. In addition, the vast majority of the educated elite both within the country and abroad are Christians, including the current president. Muslims in the north have responded to their relative powerlessness by rejecting secular education, medicine and other practices that are associated with the Christian way of life”

Even at the level of the state, the completion is stiff , every citizen wants to become an officer  due to the fact that the politicians only focus on certain area especially those area that produce oil and other natural resources of the country. As result the two religions have been fighting over power and control of land, which has so far cost many innocent lives of Nigerians from both sides (IDMC, 2010).


All in all, the conflict in Nigeria is more than a just religious conflict, the conflict in Nigeria is about land and territorial rights. Local governments of Nigeria has been able to use regions and ethnicity for political mobilization. The violence is a symptom that the population is not satisfied with the service provided by the government. Conclusively, The conflict in Nigeria is a mix of political, ethnic and religious conflict the most natural resources that the government can invest in is the human resources. The best possible solutions that can end the crisis in Nigeria can only the capacity of the people of Nigeria in fighting against sectarianism. The country needs to empower the anti-corruption institutions like Transparency International and enforce the law to make sure corruption is avoided. The more the government is giving opportunity, resolving conflict in regular democratic process the less likely people of Nigeria will take terrorism route (Pilot Africa, 2013).


(IDMC). (2010, December 3 ). NIGERIA:Simmering tensions cause new displacement in the “middle belt”. Retrieved from Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre :

Aljazeera. (2012, July 28). Is Nigeria’s conflict religious or political? Retrieved from AlJazeera:

Ayobami, O. O. (2011). Corruption Eradication in Nigeria: An Appraisal. Retrieved from Library Philosophy and Practice 2011:

BURLEIGH, M. (2013, december wednesday ). A country so corrupt it would be better to burn our aid money . Retrieved from dailymail:

COI. (2013, June 14 ). NIGERIA COUNTRY OF ORIGIN INFORMATION (COI) REPORT. Retrieved from UK Border Agency:


Kew, D. (2012, August ). is nigeria conflict political or religious ? (AlJazeera, Interviewer)

PilotAfrica. (2013). President Obama blames bad governance for upsurge of Boko Haram terror; plans to help empower Nigerian youths. Retrieved from Pilot Africa Media:

Stodghill, A. G. (2011, August 29). Nigeria: Christians and Muslims Fighting for Power & Oil – See more at: Retrieved from MadameNoire:

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