This of course is easier said than done as currently most ethnic and sub-ethnic groups are simply seeking recognition and voice of their own identity, one that was subverted by the British colonial dictates of an organized and orderly nation, able to be easily run from just a few regional seats.
Higazi notes that in central Nigeria another example of an age old social and political tradition previously serving to ensure the safety of the people from crime, especially in rural areas has now shifted its focus to ethnic and religious difference as a source of vigilante and militia behavior. Though the vigilante and militia forces in central Nigeria have historically served a fundamentally useful purpose of keeping people safe they are now seen to be factionalizing (since about 2001) to deal with issues traditionally not in their area of interest.
In some places, forms of surveillance changed as vigilante groups expanded their objectives in relation to growing tension and violence. There was generally a shift or extension from vigilance against criminality to vigilance against attacks by opposing groups or militias defining themselves in religious or ethnic terms. The emphasis on social control within religious or cultural groups was also prominent in some areas. Hence, vigilantism in this context appears not only to have increased but also to have been transformed.
So, an ad hoc entity that previously served an important social and community role is now intensified and serving as an example for the growth of conflict based upon ethnic and religious ideation.
There are countless examples of the conflict in Nigeria, despite its nature as definitively the most progressed of all the political states in Africa, following its independence from Britain. The fact that Nigeria seems to be devolving in revolution resulting from the development of new and old ways of expressing its cultural diversity is not really surprising, given its historical underpinnings as one of the jewels of the colonial body. The colonial experience inserted into a relatively peaceful society ideation of "otherness" and acceptance of social and political abject control and elitism by a singular and even foreign governing body.
This fact is not to be taken lightly as the nation undergoes what would seem insurmountable conflict associated with the reinvigoration of the rights and identities of both old and new ethnic and religious identities. Social, economic, political, ethnic, religious and other disparities will likely continue to influence street level, regional and national conflict for some time to come as the nation tries over and over to shirk the legacy of colonial division.
It is impossible to say if and when Nigeria would have developed into a cohesive democratically ideal state, ascribed by the western ideal, without the influx of the colonial body, but this is the situation that modern Nigerians are left with and their ability to create a state where most of the people are represented will likely continue to be a struggle because of it.
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John, Ime a., Aminu Z. Mohammed, Andrew D. Pinto, and Celestine a. Nkanta. 2007. "Gun Violence in Nigeria: A Focus on Ethno-Religious Conflict in Kano." Journal of Public Health Policy 28, no. 4: 420-431. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed March 23, 2011).
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Thomson, Alex. An Introduction to African Politics 3rd edition. New York, NY: Routledge (2010).
Alex Thomson, an introduction to African Politics 3rd edition. (New York, NY: Routledge 2010), 75.
George Klay Kieh Jr., "Reconstituting the Neo-Colonial State in Africa." Journal of Third World Studies 26, no. 1 (2009), 41.
Conerly Casey. "Marginal Muslims": Politics and the Perceptual Bounds of Islamic Authenticity in Northern Nigeria." Africa Today 54 no.1 (2008) 67.
Simonmary Asese Aihiokhai. "Penticostalism and Poltical Empowerment: The Nigerian Phenomenon." Journal of Ecumenical Studies 45, no. 2: (2010) 250.