The impact of Ethno-religious crisis on social economic development of rural areas


Price: 2000 Naira (BSC, MSC)



1.1 Background to the Study
Nigeria is usually characterized as a deeply divided state in which major political issues are vigorously and or violently contested along the lines of the complex ethnic, religious, and regional divisions in the country (Smyth and Robinson, 2001). By virtue of its complex web of politically salient identities and history of chronic and seemingly intractable conflicts and instability, Nigeria can be rightly described as one of the most deeply divided states in Africa (Osaghae and Suberu, 2005). From its inception as a colonial state, Nigeria has faced a perennial crisis of territorial or state legitimacy, which has often challenged its efforts at national cohesion, democratization, stability and economic transformation (Maier, 2000). The high point of the crisis seems to have been the civil war in the late 1960s, which ensued shortly after independence in 1960. Since Nigeria’s transition to civilian rule in 1999 there has been a rapid increase of conflicts in the country.
Following these development, members of different ethnic nationalities have become aware of their separate identities because of the sporadic occurrence of episodic social interpretation of intergroup relations (Sanda, 1999). The intense communal and religious conflict have led to the formation and operations of several militia groups prominent among them include, Bakassi Boys, Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), Oodua People Congress (OPC), Egbesu Boys, Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP), Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) and more recently Boko Haram. These Militia groups have become an enclave for the army of jobless youths (Alegbeleye, 2014).
Ethno-religious crisis is a common phenomenon in the world history and there is hardly any race that has not at a particular point of time experience it. The world religious holy books, the Quran and the Bible, recorded how our fore-fathers in the past went through either ethnic crisis, religions crisis or ethno-religious crises at various point in recent time. This is to tell us that ethno religious crisis is neither peculiar to Nigeria nor a phenomenon of recent origin (Omoregbe, 2002).
Ethnic and religion sensitivity, since the Nigeria independence, have continue to threaten the development, continue co-existence, peace and unity of Nigeria as members of one sovereign democratic state. In recent history, there are only few states in Nigeria that have not in one way or another witnessed one form of ethnic or religion crises. If a state is crisis free, then such state will experience a development. Ethnicity has to do with group differentiated from the main population of a community by racial origin or cultural background.
Gould and kilb, (1956) and Nnoli, (1978) refer to ethnicity as a social formation distinguished by communal traits of their boundaries. The relevant communal factors may be language, culture or both culture and language. This means that an ethnic group will have a specific territory within a policy, demarcating it from other groups. Using Nigeria as an example, one can point to the Yoruba in the western Nigeria, the Hausa in the northern Nigeria, Igbo in the eastern Nigeria and Ogoni in the southern Nigeria as the major ethnic group in the country.
The vilification of ethnicity as the scapegoat of all vices associated with the Nigerian body polity has made the subject a dominant theme in the study of Nigerian political economy. No work is deemed ‘scholarly’ that does not consider the salience or irrelevance of ethnicity in its analysis and conclusions.
Thus, analysts interested in such diverse issues as nationalism, decolonisation, national integration, political parties, military intervention, corruption, economic development, structural adjustment, democratisation and violent conflict have all considered the ‘ethnicity’ variable. This was the case even in the 1960s and 1970s when the major intellectual traditions felt ethnicity was of secondary importance as an explanatory variable; at best an epiphenomenon and at worst a mask for class privilege (Sklar, 1967).
The result of such interest in ethnicity, which is proportional to the high level of ‘ethnic consciousness’ in the Nigerian society (Lewis et al; 2002), is a legion of literature on ethnicity, making a critique a Herculean task. Jinadu, (1994) rightly puts it, ‘the study of ethnic relations in Nigeria has passed through a number of phases reflecting changes in the country’s political status as well as changes in fashions and trends in the social science research agenda’.
Taking a historical view of the concept of ethnicity, Joireman, (2003) holds that: ethnicity did not come into common usage until the latter part of the twentieth century it is a term that is strongly contested in academic literature. Relating the term to nationalism, Joireman insists that: ethnicity is a beginning manifestation of identity.
A religion is the belief in the existence of a god or gods, and the activities that are connected with the worship of them. It is also one of the systems of faith that are based on the belief in the existence of a particular god or gods: the Jewish religion, the Christian religion, the Islamic religion and a host of other world religions. Almost every human being believes in a Supreme Being (with different local names), who controls the universe – the seen and the unseen worlds. He sets a moral standard to be attained by man and capable of punishing man here and hereafter et cetera. The endeavour of man to please the Supreme Being, especially to secure a favourable place for himself hereafter is known as religion. It emanates from innate tendency and hence personal because one is free to believe or to disbelieve (Olayiwola, 2011).
Religion can also be said as consisting of institutional system of beliefs, value and symbolic practices which provided group of main solution to these questions of ultimate meaning of death, difficulties, suffering et cetera. This determination sees religion as social institution. From my own point of view, religion is a belief in the existence of a supernatural being known as God who made heaven, earth and the entire inhabitant there in (Samari, 2016).
Nigeria as a nation is religiously pluralistic where everyone is free to embrace which ever religion that appealed to him/her, be it Islam, Christianity or African traditional religion. From time immemorial, man has always felt an inner urge to worship and it is this that led to the production of mosaic of beliefs, attitude and practices. Throughout history, religion has been seen as a universal institution which entails a set of basic beliefs and practices.
Religion in all society is said to provide a healthy terrain for functional and vibrant society. Religion is often regarded as a living thing by scholars and any living thing is very much interested in what is happening in the environment. More so, every religion in any environment preached peace, with oneself, peace with other and peace with God. Unfortunately, there is hardly any peace in our society today (Okwueze, 2003). The history of religion cannot be separated from the attendant conflict that follows it from time. All these observation made by Nnoli are very rampant of situation preventing in Nigeria society. This generates divisive and socio-economic competitions which have anti-social effects.
Religion on the other hand is such prominent feature in human society that it cannot be simply ignored. World history would be incomplete without reference to it. Religion is as old as mankind and will in all probability remain for as long as man exist, (Omoregbe, 2002). To be able to give a definition of religion that is universally acceptable is difficult if not impossible task. The reason for this could be traced to the vastness of the discipline whereby it permeates all aspects of lives and allows for individual opinion, (Osibodu, 2000).
Etymologically, religion is derived from three Latin words namely ligare meaning to bind, relegere meaning to unite and religio meaning relationship. Therefore, religion can be said something that unites man with transcendent being a deity, believed to exist and worshipped by man; man and God, (Omoregbe, 2002).
Conflict (crisis) can be described as a situation or condition of disharmony in an interactional process. Crisis is when two or more values, perspectives and opinions are contradictory in nature and have not been aligned or agreed upon yet (Bagaji, 2012).In order to understand the concept of socio-economic development, it is imperative we define development. Generally, development is defined as a state where something moves from an unpalatable situation to palatable situation. Development also could mean the improvement in people’s lifestyle through improved education, incomes, skills development and employment (Adeniyi, 1993). It is the process of economic and social transformation based on cultural and environmental factors. Socio-economic development therefore is the process of social and economic development in a society. It is measured with indicators, such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP), life expectancy, literacy and levels of employment (Okonjo-Iweala and Osafo-Kwaako, 2007).The need for a religious tolerance among the different religious adherents is and remains relevant in the sustenance of the socio-economic development of the country. Without peace there could be no any meaningful development that is why government at all levels should make concerted effort to abate the level of crises in the country to its barest. The fact remains that good governance and accountability are sacrosanct as it engender the country socio-economic development.
Nigeria as a nation has a long history of ethno-religious crisis. (Oji and Anugwom, 2004) observed that, ethnic and religious conflicts and divisions arising from them are intertwined phenomenal in contemporary Nigeria. It has been observed that it is very hard in Nigeria to have an ethnic crisis which will not end up as religious crisis. The fact that Nigeria is a plural polity has long been acknowledged. Studies have shown that it has a composition of not less than three hundred and seventy five ethnic nationalities with diverse socio-cultural and political backgrounds, all of which were wielded together to form modern Nigeria by the British colonialist.
The introduction of sharia legal system has introduced another dimension into the whole farce. While the Muslims justifies its introduction as part of the dividends of democracy, the Christians see its introduction as contrary to the spirit of secularism as provided for in section 10 of the 1979 and 1999 constitutions, which states that ‘the government of the federation or of a state shall not adopt any religion as a state religion. The February and May 2000 crisis cannot be divorced from the spate of crises between the Muslim Hausa-Fulani and the Christian ethnic minorities in the state. Often religious differences have been evoked to explain these bloody clashes. However, the problem involves perceived political domination by groups considered as external, illegitimate or ‘alien’.
The immediate cause of the crisis is generally associated with the Shariah controversy and the consequent demonstration and counter demonstration by both Muslims and Christians in Kaduna. Shariah question has since the inauguration of the new civilian government in 1999 sharply divided Nigerians across religious lines.
The Muslim pro-Shariah activists expressed concern and fears over what they consider to be domination of Christian culture in Nigeria established by the colonial government. For these Muslims secularism is unacceptable in Islam, the separation of the sacred and mundane is unacceptable and the legal framework that governs their lives should be Islamic.
The Christians on the other hand are worried about what they regard as the threat of Islamization of the state and the imposition of shariah on non-Muslims. They argued that the introduction of sharia will amount to Islamization of the state against the interest of Christians and that state resources will be used to promote the cause of one religion. With shariah, they believe Christian will be considered as second-class citizens. The focus of this study is to find out if ethno-religious crisis in Bali local Government Area has any adverse effect on their socio-economic activities.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The occurrence of ethno-religious crisis in Nigeria, especially in the northern part of the country has called for great concerned among intellectuals across the nation. These crises often trigger the sense of hostile behaviour between Muslims and Christians and thereafter inculcate a deep consciousness of religion sentiment which often creates adverse effects on their socio-economic development. This research is aimed at investigating the impact of ethno-religious crisis on socio-economic development of rural area’s in other to recommend on the way forward to those that are victim of the topic under investigation and the world at large.
1.3 Research Questions
The research has answered the following questions: –
• What are the demographic data of the respondents?
• Who are the victims of ethno-religious crisis?
• What is the relationship between economic development and ethnic cleavages?
• What are the roles of religious leaders in curtailing the menace?
• What are the government policies of controlling the ethno-religious crisis?
1.4 Objectives of the Study
The following are the specific objectives of this study;
• To assess the demographic data of the respondents.
• To assess the victims of ethno-religious crisis.
• To know the relationship between economic development and ethnic cleavages.
• To investigate the role of religious leaders in curtailing the menace.
• To investigate government policies of controlling the ethno-religious crisis.
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will contribute to the various writings for instance, journals and textbook that have been highlighting on the dangers of ethno-religious crisis and how to handle it. It will help policy makers in the country and the world over to know the root causes of ethno-religious crisis, so as to explore strategies by which the negative effects of the crisis could be mitigated in the future. Thus making lasting policies that will obliterate ethno-religious chauvinism and its consequent effect on national stability and development.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This research was limited to Bali Local Government Area covering places like Maihula, Gazabu, Jatau, Kungana, Zagah and Mile Biyu. These are areas where people residing there are predominantly Muslims and Christians and has experience ethno-religious crisis in Bali Local Government Area of Taraba State. The work has focus on the historical background of crisis in these places and how it has affect development in the area, ranging from economic, political, cultural, religious and intermarriage. The study was concentrated on the ethno-religious crisis of the people in their villages from 2013-2015.
1.7 Basic Assumptions
There is a significant different between ethno-religious crisis and socio-economic development in Bali Local Government Area.
There is no significant different between ethno-religious crisis and socio-economic development in Bali Local Government Area.
1.8 Operational Definition of Terms
Ethno-Religious: Is a dual word coined from Ethnicity (ethnic) and Religion; it simply denotes ‘of or pertaining to ethnicity and religion’. It will therefore be better understood if the root words (Ethnicity and Religion) are defined.
Ethnicity: The concept of ethnicity refers to a social identity formation that rests upon culturally specific practices and a unique set of symbols and cosmology”. Lanre Olu Adeyemi(2006).
Ethnicity according to Nnoli (1998) is characterized by a common consciousness of being one in relation to other relevant ethnic groups. He contends further that: ethnicity is a “socio- political phenomenon, associated with interactions Law and Security in Nigeria 238 among members of a society consisting of diverse ethnic groups characterized by cultural and linguistic similarities, values and common consciousness”.
According to Professor Alemika et al (2004), the International IDEA offered a very broad description of ethnicity that captures its objective as well as aspects of its subjective dimensions: It suggested that: The concept of ethnicity refers to a social identity formation that rests upon culturally specific practices and a unique set of symbols and cosmology.
Ethnicity results from conditions of multiplicity of ethnic groups within a territory in which ethnic difference mobilized for political and economic interests in relation to other groups. This condition of politicalized ethnicity may lead to ethnic nationalism; where by an ethnic group may demand for a separate nation including using violent or terrorist methods to advance its realization. D. A Gubadia And A. O Adekunle(2004)
Religion: The term Religion is such a complex one that agreeing with one meaning is quite difficult…Scholars like B. Taylor(2005)’ define religion ‘as a belief in spiritual beings’. Frazer” on his part defines it thus ‘religion is the propitiation or conciliation of powers superior to man, which are believed to direct and control the cause of nature and human life’. Marx on his part saw religion as the ‘opium of the masses'(Karl Max, 1879)
Religion: According to Oxford Dictionary is defined as “one of the systems of thought that are based on the belief in the existence of a particular God or gods: Jewish religion, Christian Religion, Islamic religion. It is also defined as a particular interest or influence that is very important in one’s life. Christianity is the belief in Christ,. Islamic is an Arabic word and connotes submission, surrender and obedience to the laws of Allah. Muhammed Igabo
Crisis: Crisis is a perception or experience of an event or situation as an intolerable difficulty that exceeds the person’s current resources and coping mechanisms.” (James and Gilliland, 2001)
Seeger et al (1998) say that crises have four defining characteristics that are “specific, unexpected, and non-routine events or series of events that [create] high levels of uncertainty and threat or perceived threat to an organization’s high priority goals.” Thus the first three characteristics are that the event is
• Unexpected (that is, a surprise)
• Creates uncertainty
• Is seen as a threat to important goals
Venette (2003) argues that “crisis is a process of transformation where the old system can no longer be maintained.” Therefore the fourth defining quality is the need for change. If change is not needed, the event could more accurately be described as a failure.
Ethno-Religious Crisis: Ethno-religious crisis is a multi- causal variable Salawu (2010).
By ethno-religious crisis, it means a situation in which the relationship between members of one ethnic or religious group and another such group in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious society is characterized by lack of cordiality, mutual, suspicion, and fear and a tendency towards violent confrontation (B. Salawu, 2010)
We can define inter-religious or inter-ethnic conflict as a state of disagreement between two religious or ethnic persons regarding who is, or who is not holding absolute religious truth or ethnicity. It occurs when members of different ethno-religions are engaged in argument which often goes with bickering, controversy, demonstration, debate, or squabble over religious beliefs and practices (Dele & Mike, 2015).
Socio-economic: A distinct supplemental usage describes social economics as “a discipline studying the reciprocal relationship between economic science on the one hand and social philosophy, ethics, and human dignity on the other” toward social reconstruction and improvement (Mark, 2009).
Socioeconomics is sometimes used as an umbrella term with different usages. The term ‘social economics’ may refer broadly to the “use of economics in the study of society. (John et al., 1987)More narrowly, contemporary practice considers behavioural interactions of individuals and groups through social capita and social “markets” (not excluding for example, sorting by marriage) and the formation of social norms (Gary S. Becker, 1974).
Development: Is a conscious effort or deliberate action geared toward advancing quality of all human. (Ahima, 2016).
development can be seen from two senses; one from an active denotation- where it is seen as a human activity i.e. to frame, plan or work out a project. Second from a passive or reflective use-a critical sense. Here, it is a process undergone by a given bearer, which possesses or is expected to possess certain potentialities that are expected to be actualized up to a certain limit; after which decay sets in. This applies to living beings including human beings (Loanna Kucuradi, 1993)
According to Walter Rodney (2005), development at level of individual implies increased skill and capacity, greater freedom, creativity, self-discipline, responsibility and material well-being. While development at the level of social groups, implies an increasing capacity to regulate both internal and external relationships.
Rural: The evidence that there are universal differences in cultural characteristics associated with differences in density and size is not convincing. An alternative proposal is that “rural” be defined in terms of a particular pattern of value configurations or some other cultural attributes (Bealer et al., 1965). Rural Sociology is a field of sociology traditionally associated with the study of social structure and conflict in rural areas although topical areas such as food and agriculture or natural resource access transcend traditional rural spatial boundaries (Smit and Suzan, 2011).

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