This study examines religious conflicts in Nigeria, issues and solutions. Conflict is a great predicament in any human society, and most times, it is predictable. In fact, history indicates that conflict is an on-going process in human relations and may occur within and among groups and communities. There are numerous crises in Nigeria ranging from ethnic-religious crisis to agitation for resource control/break-up of the country, but the religious crisis such as the Niger Delta militant and Boko Haram insurgency has attracted international attention and concern. The fallouts of these crises are threatening the country’s unity and national development. Based on such circumstances, this study examines the prospect of building peace in Nigeria as a divided state leveraging on the roles of the church in ensuring sustainable peace. The study adopts a survey research method and the use of self-developed questionnaire for data collection. The finding shows that Nigerians have strong confidence in the efficacy of sustainable peace in solving personal problems and that churches could ensure National unity and development in Nigeria. Thus, to build a united Nigeria, the study recommends forgiveness and tolerance in the Nigerian Christian-Muslim relationship for sustainable peace.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Statement of the Problem
Objective of the Study
Significance of the Study
Scope and Limitation of the Study
Organization of the Study
Conflicts in Nigeria
2.2.1 Examples of Cases of Conflicts in Nigeria
2.3 Religion as a Driver of Conflicts in Nigeria
2.4 The Church and the Promotion of Peace
2.5 Church Moral and Value Orientation
2.6 The Concept of Peace Building in Nigeria
2.7 Religions as a Driver of Conflicts in Nigeria
2.7.1 Religious Rivalry among Christians and Muslims
2.7.2 Ethno-religious conflicts in Nigeria
2.8 Peace Building through Reconciliation
2.8.1 Church as an Actor in Reconciliation
2.9 The Causes of Ethno and Religious Conflicts in Nigeria
2.9.1 Religious Causes
2.9.3 Poor Security Network
2.9.4 Political causes
2.9.5 Electoral Malpractice and Political Intolerance
2.9.7 Economic Causes
2.9.8 Poor standard of education
2.10 Theoretical Framework
3.1 Research Design
3.2 Study Area
3.3 Sampling Design and Procedures
3.4 Data Collection Instrument
3.5 Administration of the Data Collection Instrument
3.6 Data Presentation
3.7 Statistical Tools for Data Analyses
1.1 BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Conflict threat is an inevitable aspect of human interaction, an unavoidable concomitant of choices and decision. The challenge, then, is not to count the frustration of seeking to remove inevitability but rather of trying to keep conflicts in bounds. The Christian tradition has made significant contributions to world peace at a number of different levels (Albert, 2011). Among these are public statements by Church leaders, programs of action at local and international levels, organisations dedicated to bringing about peace, courses of study, commemorative days etc. In recent decades, Church leaders have frequently made statements in support of peace. In some cases these statements have been specific appeals for peace in particular circumstances, however, on other occasions they have also published more comprehensive statements on the need for peace and the means of achieving it. The teaching of Christianity which is guided by the dictates of the bible (word of God) has constantly encouraged the members to ensure peace and harmony in the society.
There is a popular saying “united we stand, divided we fall” which supports the assertion that “unity is strength and division is punishment”.
These statements also depict the life of the people living in a divided society like Nigeria, because different scholars have described Nigeria as a divided society. Horowitz (1985) in Okpanachi (2009) established that one of the most challenging aspects of divided societies is that they face particular obstacle in maintaining peace. He also added that “from a similar point of view, a plural society is a society divided by what Harry Eckstein (1966) calls “segmental cleavages.” He says: “This exists where political divisions follow very closely, and especially concern lines of objective social differentiation, especially those particularly salient in a society.” Segmental cleavages may have religious, linguistic, regional, cultural, racial, or ethnic dimensions. In essence, a divided (that is, plural) society is defined by the coexistence of incompatible institutional systems and, therefore, force must be used to maintain order. Okpanachi’s view was buttressed by Osaghae and Suberu (2005) who described Nigeria as one of the most deeply divided states in Africa because of its complex web of politically salient identities and history of chronic and seemingly intractable conflicts and instability.
Christianity which is one of the predominant religions in the world today teaches peace and encourages all adherents to the faiths to pursue peace and live peacefully with one another. The above statement now seems to be questionable with the rise of intra, inter and ethno-religious conflicts in the world. While most Arab and some European countries are faced with intra-religious conflicts, an African country like Nigeria is faced with both intra and inter-religious conflicts. Nigeria, which is popularly known as Africa’s most populous black nation with a population of now about 170 million people, with more than 250 ethnic groups has Christianity and Islam as its predominant religions, though there is still in existence the African Traditional Religion (ATR).
Christianity as a word means followers of Christ or Christ like. Christians therefore are those who follow and act the teaching of Christ in all ways of life. One of the climaxes of Christianity or Christian virtue is peace. Christians are enjoined in the Bible to embrace and live peacefully with their neighbors’. The following scriptures confirm this: Depart from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it (Psalm 34 vs 14). Blessed are the Peace makers for they shall be called the children of God Matthew 5 vs 9). Let him eschew evil and do good; let him seek peace and ensue it (1 Peter 3 vs 11). Follow peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12 vs 14). If it be possible, as much as it lieth in you, live peaceably with all men (Rom 12 vs 18)
The word Peace in Christianity is translated from the Hebrew word ‘Shalom’, which is a key word in the Bible and it’s at the center of how God wants us to live on earth. One of the key things Jesus came to give humanity is Peace and expects us to live in peace as cited in the scriptural verses above. Peace was not only what Jesus taught but He also lived it, this in most cases is what scholars call pacifism, as Jesus never taught violence, even at his arrest by the Pharisees and one of his disciples struck the ears of the priest, Jesus rebuked the disciple and said that “those who live by the sword shall die by the sword” (Mathew 26:52, NKJV). In another place Jesus taught the people not to retaliate any evil done to them as it used to be, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, if one should strike you on the right cheek, turn the left cheek (Mathew 5:38-39, NKJV) but now to always forgive those that offend them and he charged them to forgive their neighbors even seventy times seven (Matthew 18:22, KJV). With all these scriptural teachings of the church, Christians are meant to foster peace and harmony in the society.
Therefore, this study attempts to look into the divided society of Nigeria by analyzing the causes of the disunity, crises and conflicts. Consequently, the role of churches in ensuring sustainable peace and National development in the country.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The church has always taught the members on the act of non-retaliation as taught by Jesus who helps to absorb violence instead of escalating it, hence every cycle of violence provoking revenge, which in turn provokes more violence is broken by the simple act of tolerating the violence and avoiding retaliation. On the contrary, there has been an increased case of disruption to peace and harmony in the world today despite the church teachings of peace as stipulated by Jesus Christ. However, the researcher is examining the role of church in ensuring peace and harmony in the society.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The major objective of this study is to examine religious conflict in Nigeria; issues and solutions. The research intends to outline the following sub-objectives;
- To examine the role of church in reducing religious conflicts in the society.
- To examine the dictates of the church as regards sustainable peace and harmony.
- To identify the factors disrupting sustainable peace and harmony of the society.
- To proffer solutions to the issues of religious conflicts in Nigeria.
1.4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
- How can the Church help provide sustainable peace in Nigeria in this 21st century?
- To what extent has the Church been relevant in community development of her host communities?
- Has the Church played any significant role in sustaining peace in Nigeria?
- What are the factors disrupting sustainable peace and harmony of the society?
- What is the role of church in ensuring sustainable peace and harmony in the society?
- What are the dictates of the church as regards sustainable peace and harmony?
1.5 Research Hypotheses
H0: The church is not encouraging religious, political and ethno-religious crisis in Nigeria.
H1: The church is encouraging religious, political and ethno-religious crisis in Nigeria.
H0: The Church has played a significant role in sustaining peace in Nigeria.
H2: The Church has not played a significant role in sustaining peace in Nigeria.
- Significance of the Study
The findings of this study will be useful for the government, church leaders and the general public on the role of the church in ensuring sustainable peace and harmony in the society. This research will also serve as a resource base to other scholars and researchers interested in carrying out further research in this field subsequently, if applied will go to an extent to provide new explanation to the topic. It will provide valuable insights into existing relationship between the government and the church in providing sustainable peace in our rural communities. It will bring to the fore the prominent roles the Church has been playing in sustaining peace since she made her advent and the situation today. It could also motivate the various stakeholders in community development to partner well with the Church in bringing sustainable peace to the grassroots. It will add to existing knowledge and equally serve as a benchmark for further studies. It will serve as a model to other NGOs in their contributions to sustainable peace. It could also bring to the knowledge of other religions that religion is not just “otherworldly,” that they work for the material and psychological wellbeing of men and women when they are being well practiced.
- Scope and Limitations Of The Study
This study will cover the position of the church and Christianity in general as regards the issue of societal peace and harmony.
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY
This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), statement of problem, objectives of the study, research question, significance or the study, research methodology, definition of terms and historical background of the study. Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.