Causes of Conflict in Nigeria

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Causes and Cures of Conflicts in Nigeria


Gesiye Angaye

Compounding the problem of underdevelopment in poor countries like Nigeria is micro nationalism, ethnic, religious and communal conflicts which, pose great threat to peace, security and progress. Conflicts refer to disputes, disagreements, quarrels, struggles, fights and wars between individuals, groups and countries. In every nation there is no complete agreement on how to share wealth, power and status among individuals and groups, and how to effect necessary changes and reforms. Since different groups and individuals have diverse interests, the aims of some groups will conflict with those of others. Conflicts occur when deprived groups and individuals attempt to increase their share of power and wealth or to modify the dominant values, norms, beliefs or ideology.

May it be noted that there are functional and dysfunctional conflicts. Dysfunctional conflicts are destructive and cause loss of lives, property, man-hours, investment opportunities, hunger and starvation when open violence, wars, mass strikes, and other forms of disruption occur. On the other hand, functional or creative conflicts are constructive and reflect the differences and variety of human opinions and activity which exists in any free society. If creative conflicts between groups which are major sources of innovation, new ideas, institutions and social change are suppressed altogether, a nation becomes stagnant and static.

The nationalist outburst that saw the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Ethiopia, etc. have emboldened the oppressed nationalities around the world to take their destinies into their hands. The divisive interplay of politics, ethnicism and religion in Nigeria has led to rising nationalism and militancy of various ethnic movements, seeking self-determination, local autonomy, separate identity and true federalism. The existence of artificial and arbitrary boundaries that split...