Why ethnic conflict persists in Nigeria by History Lecturer

A lecturer in the Department of HistoryAdeyemi College of Education {ACE} Ondo, {Dr.} Ajigbade Ikuejube, has highlighted reasons why ethnic conflicts persist in Nigeria.

Speaking while delivering the 2nd ACE Inaugural lecture entitled: “Historicizing Ethnic Conflict in Nigeria,” which held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Auditorium in the College on Wednesday May 26, 2016, Ajigbade described ethnic conflict as a continuation of centuries of primordial hatred among various communities in Nigeria. He added that the conflict which is man-made is caused by social/political discords occasioned by land and boundary matters.

Using structural and relational theories to buttress his points, the history lecturer explained that while supporters of the structural theory attributes ethnic conflict to social problems caused by political economic exclusion, injustice, exploitation and inequality, the relational theorists on the other hand placed it at the doorstep of historical antecedents.

While decrying what he described as the inability of Government and Non-Government Organisation {NGO’s}, to adequately address the problem of ethnic conflict in Nigeria, Ikuejube opined that much have not been achieved because they have failed to recognise the influence of culture and traditional practices of the people in policy formulation. On the increasing cases of clashes and lack of Unity among ethnic groups in Nigeria, Ikuejube lamented the situation and stated that the matter could have been addressed, if government had taken it upon itself, to develop a template through which history of conflict among ethnic groups, centred on resource control and struggle for political supremacy could be used to nip it in the bud.

He explained that ethnic conflict continue to rear its ugly head in the country, because of lack of proper understanding of history behind inter-ethnic aged-long relationship by those in authority. Describing ethnic conflict as a concept that have shaped human existence and influence issues like state formation, boundary consolidation, cultural harmonization, identity definition and commercial relations, the ACE history lecturer attributed its origin in Nigeria to several factors which he listed as including the advent of colonial rule, emergence of aborigines and tenancy status in some communities, expansionist tendencies displayed by some communities against other towns and settlements, as well as emergence of ethnic unions, struggling to have a share of the National cake.

Bemoaning the emergence of ethnic unions in the country, Ikuejube noted that the development has led to proliferation of rivalries, increasing cry of marginalisation in appointments, constant demand for creation of local government and payment of compensation in areas affected by oil spillage and other ecological problems as well as increasing demand for the establishment of Federal and State institutions, which at times have pitted one communities against another.

While expressing serious concern about what he described as the evil effect of ethnic conflict and its resultant effect on national unity, which he noted is currently heating up the polity threatening and raising fear of possible breakup of the country, the History lecturer said except urgent steps are taken to address the situation, it is capable of having serious repercussion on nation building and economic transformation. 

As a way of addressing the situation, Ikuejube suggested the need to give opportunity to every ethnic group to communicate their feelings to one another. In addition, he also suggested the re-establishment of mutual trust and understanding among ethnic groups that was in palace before the advent of colonial era.

Other suggestions listed by him include use of bargaining and negotiation for conflict resolution, introduction of peace education in schools, promotion of Non-violence techniques in conflict Management to mention out a few.

Earlier in a remark, the Provost of the College, Prof. Olukoya Joseph ogen, described the Inaugural lecture as one of the academic tradition for which the institution is known. He congratulated Dr. Ajigbade Ikuejube and assured that the College Management under his leadership would continue to encourage intellectuals willing to contribute to the advancement of knowledge in the institution.

The high point of the well attended ceremony was the presentation of plaque and certificate of recognition to Dr. Ajigbade Ikuejube by the Registrar of the College, Mr. Felix Eniola Aderinboye. The ceremony was attended by eminent personalities from all walks of life.  They include the College Deputy Provost, Dr. Samuel Akintunde, Representative of the College Bursar, Mr. G.O Abdul, Mrs. Taiwo Adedoyin; Acting College Librarian, Mr. R.A Awoyemi.
Others were Deans and Directors, Heads of Departments and Units, Staff and Students as well as invited guests from various tertiary institutions across the country.