North-south/Muslim-Christian identities is the unit of the nation. Unity means honoring the universal truths of oneness: the quality of being united as one.
When two or more merge and become united Regardless of race, creed, color, nationality, religion, or species of life, The Boko Haram insurgency must be understood within the broader socio-economic and political context of the country.
The rise of Boko Haram has been contextualized by most analysts within the socio-economic situation of north-eastern Nigeria and factors such as high levels of poverty, pervasive corruption at all levels and regional terrorist linkages. Nevertheless, it is equally important to understand the larger geopolitical context of Nigeria as a whole — including the long history of political use and violent manifestations of ethnic and religious identities — as it provides further insight into the security crisis.
Nigeria is extremely diverse, with numerous geographically clustered ethnic and religious identities. The Federal Republic of Nigeria, consisting of 36 states, is often portrayed as a product of British colonialism that forcibly joined several culturally and religiously different regions into one state. Nigeria is very diverse, with 250 ethnic groups and 450 spoken languages.
The dominant identities, constituting 68 % of the population, are Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo and are spatially concentrated in the north-west, south-west and south-east, respectively. Religious identities are equally geographically polarised, with Muslims accounting for 50 % of the population and concentrated in the north, and Christians forming roughly 40 % of the population and concentrated in the south.
Since the end of the dictatorship in 1999, southern and northern Religious and ethnic identities have been integrated into – but are instrumentalised from time to time in the context of – political and economic relations in the country. In the democratic era, following the end Policy Department, Directorate-General for External Policies presidents have alternated.
Of military dictatorship in 1999, there has been an unwritten rule within the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), which has been in power since 1999 which the presidency should rotate between representatives of the two main religious groups/regions.
Goodluck Jonathan is a Christian who took office in 2010 following the death of Umaru Yar’Adua (a Muslim northerner) and won the subsequent 2011 elections against Muhammadu Buhari (those elections being seen by some as breaching the unwritten rule) The presidency of Goodluck Jonathan is perceived by some as a breach of this tradition, and his candidacy for 2015 elections is expected to be highly contentious. The Boko Haram crisis has been politicised, and this will only intensify with the elections.
Several leading northern politicians have been accused of supporting The next elections are scheduled for March 2015 and it is expected that Goodluck Jonathan will run again. His decision will undoubtedly bear upon both the attitude of northern Muslims within and outside of the PDP and on the political and strategic moves of the president and his cabinet. The National Conference on Nigeria’s Future, which started in March 2014 and will conclude in July, is considered by some to be such a political move.
Bringing together around 500 delegates to discuss the country’s future, the conference is seen by some as a platform for the PDP to iron out its internal disputes, rather than a genuine country-wide consultation.
It is expected that the issues discussed at the conference will include wealth-sharing arrangements between the oil-rich south and the poorer north, with the south wanting to retain a greater share of profits for local communities. Boko Haram’s indiscriminate killings of Muslims and Christians alike have, to an extent served as an opportunity for cross-religious cooperation.
In April 2014, the President, together with all state governors, issued a statement confirming their shared understanding that the fight against Boko Haram is not a religious fight, but a matter of protection of all Nigerians. Nevertheless, the politicization of the security crisis has been rampant and is expected to intensify in the run-up to the elections.
On one hand, northern politicians and leading businessmen have been accused of sponsoring the organization with the objective of destabilizing the government, while the latter is blamed for neglecting and mishandling the crisis in order to weaken the northern states ahead of the 2015 elections.
President Goodluck Jonathan proclaimed as early as 2012 that Boko Haram has infiltrated the Nigerian government, and several leading politicians, most notably Senator Ali Ndume, were accused of being supporters of the group.
Senator Ndume was a member of the President’s Task Force responsible for the initiation of dialogue with the organization, and represents the Borno North District. He was charged in 2012, being released on bail in 2013 following the recommendation of the Federal High Court.
He has since resumed his political duties and his trial is still expected. Other allegations targeted the now deceased former Ambassador to Sao Tome and Principe, Saidu Pindar; the governors of northern states such as Isa Yuguda (Bauchi) and Ibrahim Shekarau (Kano), for paying protection money to the organisation to leave their states alone; and the recently dismissed governor of the Central Bank (and newly chosen emir or traditional Muslim leader of Kano), Sanusi Lamido Sanusi II, who brought into the open a corruption scandal involving millions of dollars’ worth of missing oil revenues.
In return, the Governor of Adamawa State, Admiral Nyako, has several times accused the federal government of sponsoring the crisis. Numerous deaths of political figures from the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP) in the north have been used as evidence for these accusations made by northern politicians; however, some commentators explain these deaths as the result of the withdrawal of the political backing those politicians used to provide to Yusuf and his movement in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The main opposition party, the APC, also warned that the government might try to exploit its fight against Boko Haram for political gains. However, it is argued that since the counter-insurgency against Boko Haram is cross-religious it does not follow that a northern president would necessarily be better suited to address the security crisis. One of the most notable manifestations of the political differences between northern and southern states relates to the adoption of Sharia law in 12 states since 1999.
with Sharia Law. The north-south divide in Nigerian politics is also visible in the acceptance of Sharia (Islamic) law, which functions alongside secular law in 12 states. Sharia is implemented alongside secular laws and imposes different, often more severe punishments for offences. Islamic customary law had previously been followed in private but entered the legal system in these states and has posed many concerns, not the least because Nigeria is a secular state under its Constitution and has obligations for the protection of human rights.
Following the adoption of sharia, a number of deadly riots, conflicts and acts of retribution took place between the two main religious groups, including protests against the 2002 Miss World beauty contest in Kaduna, and massacres in 2004 in Jos of hundreds of Christians and Muslims.
Special committees which were consulted in the process of introducing sharia in many states argued in favor of its adoption due to, amongst others, the prevalence of corruption within the state and the lack of administrative competences. The implementation of the law is evaluated by some as incomplete and lacking in meaning, as it is not effectively dealing with the underlying issues, such as state corruption or poverty.
The lack of linkages between a social welfare system and the establishment of the sharia law in the northern states is cited as a potential reason for Yusuf’s discontent with the introduction of sharia in 1999 – or, more broadly, the Islamic law introduced did not meet his standards.
The human rights concerns center primarily on the potentially negative implications for women and for marginalized groups such as the LGBTI community, For example, Sharia criminalizes ‘consensual homosexual conduct’, which can even be punished by death by stoning. Several men have faced prison sentences in northern states for sodomy or other sexual acts under Sharia courts.30 In 2014 the anti-LGBTI sentiment became embedded in the secular legal system as well when President Jonathan signed the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Bill into law.
The adoption of this law was criticized by criticized by the European Parliament (resolution 2014/2634 (RSP)) and received with concern by the European Union (as expressed by EU High Representative Catherine Ashton). Presented Muhammad BUHARI say I belong to everybody and belong to nobody and don’t fair me fair the action that you have made Unity means we can honor our differences and celebrate our commonalities. Binta Ayamu Part four student Department of Mass Communication University of Maiduguri
Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on MyNews24 have been independently written by members of News24's community. The views of users published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24. News24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.