Employment as a panacea to conflict in Nigeria

(By Oghenevwede Elum)

Social economist would agree that the issue of unemployment which is a product of poverty by extension could make the people willing tools in the hands of greedy and power drunk politicians. The psychologists know that it is only a thin line between abject poverty and mental retardation.  This is the case with a group who are fighting for an unknown cause. This is so for a people that has rejected dialogue and peaceful coexistence.  They kill others and themselves.

MANY social engineers, political analysts and policy makers have written extensively on the lingering security challenges of our nation Nigeria. The causes, impact and the way out were among the multifaceted issues of discussion. We read in national newspapers how students of Yobe College were murdered in cold blood. For three weeks the girls abducted from their examination centre in Chibok have not been rescued. There have been several killings that ink and paper will not be enough to put down. Women and children have been told to police themselves even when the men have not been able to do so. So many lives and properties have been destroyed. The sounds of guns and fierce looking terror groups have driven our animals into the interior part of the forest. Some are afraid to profess their religion for fear of being assaulted. Several persons have relocated, they are moving aimlessly without knowledge of the region to settle. Cattle men have started locking horns with farmers. Husbands have lost their wives and our women and girls have been bodily assaulted.

   The events that have played themselves out over the years are a perfect epitome of pogrom. It is a systematic genocide by a group of people who desire a product but do not care about the process. A social analyst had said; “Nigeria is exhibiting the trappings of a failed state.” This is so because the process is faulty. A northerner, who has a controversial political antecedent also noted: “Nigeria needs institutional revolution”. However, a holistic view of the crises can be summed up in the projections of John Gunther; “Africa is like an exploding mass of yeast. Its fermentations are not merely political and economic, but social and religious”. Little wonder Honorable Patrick Obahiangbor had noted: “The conflict in the northern part of the country is not only a religious problem but economic problems taking ethno-religious coloration”.   John Gunther left us with a striking remark when he said: ‘‘Africa can be anything but a source of trouble. This is so because millions of people are being transformed from primitive and tribal way of life to aggressive membership in modern society.’’

   Come to think of it, Nigeria’s case is not different today. We still have primitive homo-sapiens among us. Nigerians want to know why, how it started and the way out of the dehumanising conflict. Conflict arises for many reasons. It ranges from disorderliness in governance, the struggle for existence, cession, unequal distribution of resources, ethnocentrism, egotism, and negative perception on issues of national.  After World War 1, the big powers kept an eye on each other in order to make sure that no one nation can outdo the other. No one nation wants another country to develop a military base that will plunge them into war.   At a point, some wars became preemptive like the U.S.A. action in Iraq. United States of America had to attack Iraq because they suspected them of acquiring weapons of war.

   In the same way, the different ethnic groups in Nigeria had at one point in time or the other suspected each other and still do. They clamour for political relevance when they feel marginalised. The preconceived notion about marginalisation has led to division which was the bane before the Nigerian civil war of 1967 in Nigeria.

   More importantly, the unprecedented and unexpected drift in political power from the major ethnic group to the minority is also one of the rationales behind the insurgency in Northern Nigeria.  The perception of leadership in Nigeria has been tied to a scenario where a particular group believes that political leadership is its birth right. Any attempt to tilt the scale in favour of another group or a minority thus leads to conflict. It is difficult if not impossible for political power to be a permanent right of any particular group. This is a lie that has become too old that it looks like truth.

   Ideological differences are also flash points of conflict. This is so when a particular group does not believe in what another group believes. These differences have led to bitter and acrimonious relationship between nations, groups and individuals. The conflict we have witnessed today in some north eastern Nigeria states started as soon as President Goodluck Jonathan stepped into office. No doubts, the embers of terrorism could have been there before President Goodluck’s ascension, but the genocide of the 21st century in northern Nigeria is a consolidation of what had accumulated over the years.

  Having looked at the why, how or when it started, the need to proffer lasting measures geared at ending the crises cannot be wished away. I did my calculations and discovered that the northern politicians have ruled Nigeria for more than 38 years since 1960, yet the highest poverty level is still in the north.

The poverty level of the people is reflected on their standard of living and choice of trade. Some have taken up nail cutting and others have become cobblers to say the least.

   Social economist would agree that the issue of unemployment which is a product of poverty by extension could make the people willing tools in the hands of greedy and power drunk politicians. The psychologists know that it is only a thin line between abject poverty and mental retardation.  This is the case with a group who are fighting for an unknown cause. This is so for a people that has rejected dialogue and peaceful coexistence.  They kill others and themselves.

   In order to experience relative peace and tranquility, the government and organised private sector must do well to create jobs for the citizens. In the same vein, the leaders of the states where the insurgency has taken root should come up with jingles that pass moral messages and inscription that preaches peaceful coexistence.

   More importantly, justice should be upheld at all levels. Little wonder Martin Luther King Jr. had said; “Peace is not the absence of conflict, but the presence of justice.”

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