ETHNO-RELIGIOUS AND REGIONAL RIVALRY IN NIGERIA: AN OLD AND CREEPING TREND
One of the major characters of the Nigeria is the prominence of ethnicity, regionalism and religion in her formation from 1914, and the succeeding trends, particularly in her public affairs. These (ethnicity, regionalism and religion) have therefore, greatly been influencing her unity, cohesion, development and sustainability. Not only have these manifested and determined Nigerian state make up, structure and affairs, but also resulted in conflicts, threats to national cohesion, controversies, and unhealthy rivalry among the heterogeneous ethno-religious and regional groups in the country. This article explores ethno-religious and regional rivalry among Nigeria’s prominent religions, major, small and minority ethnic groups. It also examined the factors responsible for, the effects of rivalry on Nigerian state and the policy measures put in place by various regimes to contain the rivalry. It is very clear from the study that the basic reasons for the rivalry are economic, political, power and fear of domination and supremacy by the others. The article also argues that although ethno-religious, regional rivalry has been a potent threat to Nigeria’s unity and social bond, accommodation, stability and prosperity, it is also positively awakening individuals, religions, groups and regions to civic duties and political participation, stand for their rights, responsibilities, etc. The nature and extent to which the rivalry is pursued (either positive or negative) determines the consciousness and stimulation of drives by the groups to rise up to impending socio-economic and political development, which in turn speeds up the progress and development of the state, or further threaten national unity, social bond, and stability of Nigeria.
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