An Analysis Of Religion And Political Crisis In Nigeria (Case Study Of Kaduna State)

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

An Analysis Of Religion And Political Crisis In Nigeria (Case Study Of Kaduna State)


Religious conflicts and political crisis in Nigeria are a major public health problem. This article aims at analyzing the role of religion and political crises in Nigeria. The main objective of the study is to analyze the effect of religion on Nigerian politics. The research was conducted in Kaduna metropolis, Nigeria, using a random sampling method. The study identifies the immediate and visible factors that have triggered religious conflicts in the country and evaluates the management strategies that the Nigerian state had adopted for its containment over the years. It concludes by making recommendations to the various religious communities in Nigeria as well as the Nigeria state on appropriate strategies for managing religious violence. It is therefore intent on objectively critiquing the negative deployment of religion as an instrument for social disharmony.

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Violent conflict is a great predicament in any human society, and most times, it is predictable. While history shows that conflict is ubiquitous and often useful element in human relations and may occur within and among individuals and groups, violent conflict is rarely productive. In the case of Nigeria, one of the several types of violent conflicts that constantly plague the socio-political history of the nation is the sort of conflict that is based on, or centrally involves, religious differences. Such ‘religious conflicts’ are quite frequent and occur mostly between the Christian and Muslim population in the Northern part of the country. These conflicts have resulted in the loss of lives and property and have tremendously fractured the Christian-Muslim relationship in the country. Furthermore conflicts and crises as Onabanjo (2011) observes, have also hindered genuine national integration more than fifty years after Nigeria’s independence thus raising serious concerns on the unity of the nation. In this vein, several debates and attempts have been made towards resolving the many crises facing Nigeria. This study seeks to contribute in this direction.

The notion of a conflict can be understood in several ways. In the view of Barker (1987) the potential for conflict subsists whenever and wherever people have contact. As people are organized into groups to seek a common goal, the probability of conflict greatly increases. Conflicts may occur at several levels and include families, friends and colleagues at work place. Conflict has also been regarded as a strategy and an attempt to coerce power when and where understanding and reason fall short. Religion could serve, and has indeed served as an instrument of social harmony in many civilisations. Paradoxically, however, it has also served as a motivation for violence, hence its indication in some literature as a ‘double-edged sword’ (Maregere 2011:17–23; Obasi 2009). From time immemorial, religious bigots have attempted to legitimise violence in the name of God. Contemporary acts of extreme violence such as terrorist attacks are often justified as ‘holy warfare’. In the past two decades, religion has been at the centre of most violent conflicts around the world, thereby gaining notoriety as one of the prime security challenges confronting the world in the wake of the Cold War (Juergensmeyer 2000:6; Abu-Nimer 2000).

A study conducted in Spain has found that societies that are divided along religious lines are more prone to intense and prolonged conflict than those divided by political, territorial and ethnic differences (Reynal-Querol 2002). Perhaps this reality explains the prime position that religious violence occupies on Nigeria’s security pyramid. As we shall see in this article, religiously motivated violence has plagued the country more than any other security challenge. There are several causal diagnoses of religious conflicts in Nigeria, but much of the literature in this area pay premium attention to the underlying sociopolitical, economic and governance factors that precipitate, not only religious, but violent conflicts generally. This article presents, as a point of departure, an analytical inquiry into the immediate and visible factors that have triggered religious conflicts in the country. Primarily, this article identifies the immediate and visible drivers of religious violence in Nigeria and evaluates the management strategies that the Nigerian state had adopted for its containment over the years. It concludes by making recommendations to the various religious communities in Nigeria as well as the Nigerian state on appropriate strategies for managing religious violence.

As noted earlier, religion sometimes plays significant roles in communal harmony; yet it is often instrumentalised for political and other established interests to the detriment of peace and social harmony. This article is therefore intent on objectively critiquing the negative deployment of religion as an instrument for social disharmony. In religious conflicts, it is not clear which aims are to be achieved. Gofwen (2004) regards political aims as primary; in his view, religious conflicts form a specific form of conflict between groups which differ ideologically along religious lines within a pluralistic setting with each striving for political relevance. In a similar vein, Takaya (1992) emphasizes the political import of religions Religions are parochial and emotional socializers. They specialize in building one-faith exclusive brotherhood communities; Religion, at some point, is politics and is the most potent and long lasting political association. Moreover, religious creeds excite and extract the deepest possible emotional and physical loyalties from their adherents when in political competition with people of other faiths.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Political marginalization, ethnicity and religious politics has constituted a major stumbling block to the development of Nigerian politics. Though many are of the opinion that it is not democratic in nature as such it application in the Nigeria setting has been questionable, as some also posit that it does not give room for the best brains to be elected. It is on this backdrop that the researcher intends to examine the analysis of religion and political crisis in Nigeria.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The main objective of the study is to analyze the effect of religion on political crises in Nigeria. But for the successful completion of the study, the researcher intends to achieve the following sub-objectives;

  1. To ascertain the effect of religion on Nigerian politics
  2. To ascertain the relationship between religion and political crisis in Nigeria
  3. To evaluate the impact of religion politics on national unity
  4. To ascertain the relationship between ethnicity politics and religious politics.

1.4 Research Hypotheses

For the successful completion of the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated by the researcher

  1. H0: religious politics has no effect in Nigeria democracy
    H1: religious politics has a significant effect on Nigeria democracy.
  2. H0: there is no significant relationship between religion and political crisis in Nigeria.
    H2: there is a significant relationship between religion and democratic political.

1.5 Significance of the Study

It is perceived that at the completion of the study, the findings will be of great importance to the leaders of political parties in their choice of candidacy or flag bearer during any general elections, the study will also be of great importance to the political office holders in their choice of appointment into their carbinate. The study will also be of great benefit to the researchers who intends to embark on research on similar topics as it will serve as a guide. Finally, the study will be of great importance to academia’s, lecturers, teachers, students and the general public.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The scope of the study covers an analysis of religion and political crisis in Nigeria; but in the cause of the study there were some factors which limited the scope of the study;

a) Availability of Research Material:

The research material available to the researcher is insufficient, thereby limiting the study

b) Time:

The time frame allocated to the study does not enhance wider coverage as the researcher have to combine other academic activities and examinations with the study.

c) Organizational privacy:

Limited Access to the selected auditing firm makes it difficult to get all the necessary and required information concerning the activities

1.7 Definition of Terms

Political Party

A political party is a group of people who come together to contest elections and hold power in the government. The party agrees on some proposed policies and programmes, with a view to promoting the collective good or furthering their supporters’ interests. While there is some international commonality in the way political parties are recognized, and in how they operate, there are often many differences, and some are significant


Democratic consolidation is the process by which a new democracy matures, in a way that means it is unlikely to revert to authoritarianism without an external shock. The notion is contested because it is not clear that there is anything substantive that happens to new democracies that secures their continuation beyond those factors that simply make it ‘more likely’ that they continue as democracies. Unconsolidated democracies suffer from formalized but intermittent elections and clientelism


Politics is the process of making decisions applying to all members of each group. More narrowly, it refers to achieving and exercising positions of governance organized control over a human community, particularly a state. Furthermore, politics is the study or practice of the distribution of power and resources within a given community (a usually hierarchically organized population) as well as the interrelationship(s) between communities


Treatment of a person, group, or concept as insignificant or peripheral. The process whereby something or someone is pushed to the edge of a group and accorded lesser importance. This is predominantly a social phenomenon by which a minority or sub-group is excluded, and their needs or desires ignored.


Religion is a cultural system of behaviors and practices, world views, sacred texts, holy places, ethics, and societal organisation that relate humanity to what an anthropologist[who?] has called “an order of existence”. Different religions may or may not contain various elements, ranging from the “divine”, “sacred things” faith a “supernatural being or supernatural beings”[5] or “some sort of ultimacy and transcendence that will provide norms and power for the rest of life

1.8 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows

  1. 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.
  2. Chapter two highlight the theoretical framework on which the study its based, thus the review of related literature.
  3. Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  4. Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  5. Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study

Chapter Five

Summary Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to analyze the role of religion and political crisis in Nigeria.

In the preceding chapter, the relevant data collected for this study were presented, critically analyzed and appropriate interpretation given. In this chapter, certain recommendations made which in the opinion of the researcher will be of benefits in addressing impact of politics of ethnicity and religious crisis in Nigeria.

5.2 Summary

Economic development and societal wellbeing can only be achieved in an environment where multi-culturalism and multi-religiosity are guaranteed. The significant growth in human development in the Middle-Eastern states of United Arab Emirates and Qatar, and in Malaysia, among others, eloquently testifies to this assertion. Religious diversity should not constitute a barrier to human relations and development; rather it should be a tool or resource for national development. The religious faithful in Nigeria should, therefore, realize the fact that religious tolerance and harmony are both legally sanctioned and socially inevitable, as the world can never be composed of one religion or culture. Accordingly, whereas every religious group has the right to uninhibited religious practice, this must be done with commensurate or reciprocal respect for the rights of other faithful to practise their own religious traditions; provided that such does not constitute any derogation to the right of others to observe their own rituals. This desirable scenario of religious harmony can be achieved in Nigeria only through the establishment and sustenance of a neo-religious educational praxis that would generate a culture and orientation of multi-religiosity in our children and youth, as well as a commensurate programme of re-orientation of the adult population.

Hitherto, the dominant model of religious education in Nigeria has been faith-oriented and overwhelmed by religious indoctrination and dogma. Religious education is used to get people to embrace Christianity or Islam, rather than as a process or formation for religious tolerance and dialogue. Consequently, most children and youths are educated within this framework and are thus inclined to adopting a blind faith (Nnaji no date). This religious pedagogic gives little room for inter-faith understanding and harmony; hence religious intolerance is rife even among school children. There is, therefore, the need to reform the current curriculum on religious studies – which hitherto privileged the exclusive teaching of dogmatic Christian and Islamic doctrines – to a new praxis that would build in comparative religious studies, and expose students and pupils to basic principles of Christianity, Islam and traditional religion – religious harmony and moral instructions. All religious communities must understand that there is no alternative to inter-faith dialogue, as there can never be a universal religion or an exclusive society for adherents of a particular religion.

5.3 Conclusion

In this study, consideration was given to causes and consequences of Christian-Muslim religious conflicts and political crisis in Nigeria, it highlighted the tension between the reactions of the Christian community towards these conflicts and the content of Christian faith. The study indicates that the remote causes of these conflicts could be traced to the pattern of colonial administration adopted by the British in order to sustain its presence. However, the contemporary causes of these conflicts could be traced to political manipulations, quest for economic power and mutual ignorance of the deep religious virtues of Christianity and Islam by those who claim to advance the cause of their various religions. Christians and Muslims in Nigeria are, however, called to show understanding in their reaction a virtue taught by Christ. The numerous religious conflicts in Nigeria have left adverse effects on the social, political and economic life of the nation. It is this regard that we seek to make recommendations in the quest to diminish religious conflicts/crises and enhance a peaceful co-existence between Christian and Muslims in Nigeria. The recommendations are made with the understanding of the psychological demands they might impose.

However, it is necessary to note that it takes two parties to resolve conflicts; thus we hold that harmony amongst the adherents of the two religions is very essential for the development of Nigeria. The government must have the political will to make public the reports of the various panels that were established to investigate past religion-related crises. Some of these include the Babalakin Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Bauchi Civil Disturbances, Karibi Whyte Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Kafanchan Disturbances, Niki Tobi Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Plateau State Disturbances, Sankey Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Wasw and Langtang Disturbances and Justice Disu Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Plateau State Disturbances and lately the Ahmed Lemu Investigation Panel on the 2011 Election Violence (Onuorah, 2011). Furthermore, where people are indicted, such persons need to be prosecuted if such steps are taken by the Nigerian authority, it might deter some perpetrators of these unpleasant situations that have caused huge loss of human lives and property, thereby making the Nation unsafe.

5.4 Recommendations

The researcher recommends that The Christian and Muslim leaders in Nigeria must continue to reach out and sustain the dialogue processes, spearhead inter-religious education and seek every opportunity to educate its followers and others on the ills of violence and the Christian alternatives to the culture of relation. The Nigerian government should also begin a process of the inclusion of subjects and/or courses on civic responsibilities and patriotism in the educational curriculum at all levels. These courses should be made compulsory for all students irrespective of religious and cultural affiliations. The contents of these subjects/courses should include but not limited to the common heritage we share as Nigerians, principles of nation building and the impact of violence on national development. The orientations given to fresh Nigerian graduates who serve the nation for a year should also include an aspect of this.

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