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Comparison and Contrast of Three Ethnic Groups in Nigeria

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Comparison and Contrast of three ethnic groups in Nigeria

Nigeria as a country consists of three major ethnic groups that include Hausa occupying Northern region, Igbo and Yoruba in the West and Eastern part of the country. The three cultures have differed remarkably regarding religion, language, values and norms. These differences have continued to stir controversies which include that of territory, power and resource sharing of the countries oil wealth. The implication is that conflict is inevitable under conditions of inter-ethnic competition of scarce valuable recourses (Nnoli 1978). Power sharing issue and that of ethnic nepotism in the political circle has plunged the country into civil war in 1967 which lasted three years claiming millions of lives. Religious hegemony has also been a major trend causing millions of death in the country. Conceptually, Nnoli (1978) has described conflict as an important aspect to ethicism.

The aim of this essay is to compare and contrast the trending issues that continue to emanate as a result of heterogeneity of Nigeria's diverse major ethnic groups. However, the results that may come up are rather negative as most countries which similar cocktail of cultures (e.g. Rwandan Hutu and Tutsi) end up in continues conflicts.

Nigeria since independence has produced series of ethno-religious turmoil resulting to an estimated loss of three million lives. This issue revolves around the existence of Christianity and Islam (Religious pluralism). Religious pluralism has threatened Nigeria's social stability and its democracy by pitting different religious and cultural beliefs (Uzoma, 2004). (Haralambos and Heald) further asserted that religious pluralism inhibits religion and prevents it from performing its traditional role of unifying society. This volatile religious relationship has continued to distort peaceful co-existence among the three cultures within Nigeria with some groups agitating for the separation of country as one entity. The Hausa's are always considered as outcast religious wise as its people practice Islam while most of the Yoruba and the Igbo's are Christians. Furthermore, the continued rises in Islamic fundamentalism, ideologies, and sects have been raising huge controversies among the three ethnic groups.

The main issue at stake that keeps aggravating religious controversies in Nigeria is that most people experience religious and ethnic discrimination in different aspects of their lives ranging from right to worship and other social activities. For example: an Igbo man in a Hausa state does not feel comfortable of going to Church. Salawu (2010) has maintained that conflicts in Nigeria "has to do with the accusations and allegations of neglect, oppression, domination, victimisation marginalisation, nepotism and bigotry". Therefore the issue religious hegemony is another issue the sparks crisis in the Nigerian polity. The current movement of the extremist sect "Boko haram" which are on the stand that Shari' a law must be implemented across every Nigerian state is a clear sign of religious domination.

From the 1980's up till date, religious controversies have continued to be on the rise claiming more human lives hence depleting economic growth and distorting the political process. The current problem is that of terrorist group based in the north-eastern of the country called "Boko haram". Their ideology opposes man made laws, formal education and Christianity (Jega, 2002). This has resorted the group members to launch robust attacks on Christians and churches. The killing of Christians has aggravated their anger which they carried out an ambush attacks slaughtering more than 200 Muslims recently in Kaduna north-western state of Nigeria. Similar to the Boko haram movement was the "Maitatsine" religious disturbances in 1984. The "Kafanchan college of Education Muslim- Christian riot, Kaduna polytechnic Muslim Christians disturbances has often displaced many Christians across the country. Thus, love and trust among the two parties has continued to fade away as these sad instances repeat themselves perpetually. In 1999, the shagamu riot developed into a full blown crisis after woman passed a group of Muslim congregational prayer which they felt was offensive to Islamic teachings. However, this series of incidences have justified how religious pluralism in Nigeria has turned it into crises zone from the 1980's up till date.

The differences in culture have also continued to spark political controversies. However, a conflict is considered ethnic when it involves organised political movement, mass unrest separatist's actions and civil wars with opposing lines drawn along ethnic boundaries (Salawu, 2010). Nigeria has been a clear culprit of political crises which has led to civil war in the 1960's. Most of the struggles within the three cultures revolve around subordination and hegemony of ones culture over the rest. For example: The long leadership of the Hausa people in Nigeria was the main reason of the introduction of the zoning formula which entails the equal distribution of power among the ethnic groups. These incidences have continued to cripple Nigeria's economy and have destroyed social relationships across cultures. As Otite (2001) maintained that ethnic conflicts have hindered the socioeconomic and political development in plural societies.

The hardest crises to ever hit Nigeria (Civil war) was solely caused by cultural misunderstanding between the Hausa and Igbo ethnic group. The first military Coup in Nigeria was carried out by the Igbo which they felt the Hausa political leaders where been



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