The Crisis Of Citizenship In Nigeria: A Study Of Indigene-Settler Conflict

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

The Crisis Of Citizenship In Nigeria: A Study Of Indigene-Settler Conflict


This study is on the crisis of citizenship in Nigeria: A case study of indigene-settler. The total population for the study is 200 residents of Jos-North local government of Plateau state. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made village heads, youths, men and women were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Towards the end of the twentieth century, socio-political changes have happened in various places. Ethnic minority groups have been striving to shake off long usurpations, to cast off the yoke of distant suzerains and to take their own destinies in their own hands, this happened simultaneously with the move by religious groups to influence the social, political and economic relations in the society (Guardian, February, 1993). In Nigeria since the beginning of 1990s ethnic and religious crisis have been taking place throughout the country. This was part of the national question that can be ignored only at the expense of the nation. Little wonder therefore, that the recent United States intelligence report about sub-saharan Africa predict Nigeria‘s failure in fifteen years. Although the government has since discredited the report as being far from the reality, but she did not condemn it in totality (Leadership, June, 2005). The current resurgence of ethnic and religious violence going on throughout the country, and which has been taking different forms and dimensions, can directly be linked to the growth of population and development of communication, which have widened the political and economic awareness of the people of Nigeria. The development has also created the problems of citizenship all over the country. In JosNorth Local Government Area, Plateau State, this state of affairs has created the crisis of indigene/ settler which caught the government unawares. On general note it is pertinent to say that before 1991, harmonious relationship characterized the life of the people of Jos-North Local Government Area. The Hausa, Fulani co-existed in the area without much problem. However, things began to change at the wake of 1990s when elections of Jos north local government council and chairmanship were held in 1991, as the new local government area was created. Soon after the relationship between the two major ethnic groups, Hausa and Berom, became strained at the time when a Hausa man Malam Sama‘ila Mohammed emerged as the elected chairman of Jos-North local government area in 1991. Consequently, it is evident that Plateau State has witnessed series of ethno-religious conflicts which were manifested through the indigene/settler dichotomy, between 1991 and 2010. As stated earlier, many people lost their lives and properties and rendered homeless as refugees across various neighboring states, like Bauchi and Kaduna states among others.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The serious study of ethnic identity conflicts in Nigerian can be seen in the works of Nnoli (1978, 1989, ed. 1988). Which have examined contemporary forms of ethnic conflict in urban-setting in both colonial and post-colonial African societies. This position appears to have shifted further by other studies notably by (Egwu Nnoli). Have noted the development of a rural variant of ethnic conflict based, on ideology of land, especially in central Nigeria. Other studies such as that by Mustapha (Nnoli ed. 1998: 2751) have observed processes of continued social segmentation and fragmentation that at a time, appears to lead to exclusion and pedded access to groups to land and full citizen identity especially in Northern Nigeria. This has not only questioned ethnic identities but also increased identity formation and boundary redefinition. This also appears to have given vent to conflicts and issues of citizenship status, a negative sense of belonging and a host of problems sometimes – referred to as the National question. It is quite evident that at the moment indigene/settler conflict unlike ethnicity before it (Nnoli, 1978), show a highly mutant character. It continues to resonate sometimes with politics (Nasarawa-Toto) and it seems connected in some way with class. It is also important to observe that indigene/settler forms of identity conflict resonate with a distinct recurring ethnic variable anchored to land rights. This form has witnessed a steady virulence or extreme harmful and persistence that is yet to be adequately explained. They also appear to be distinct in character from more ethnic conflict and indeed have surpassed the latter in volatility and scale. Evidence from the study Area (Jos-North), Nasarawa-Toto, Southern Kaduna state, and Southern Nasarawa State indicates that indigene/settler conflicts can involve several ethnic groups in tactical alliances against the targeted (othered‘) ones who are to be eliminated from a given territory. It is thus because of these problems that we are motivated to search in more directions for empirical evidence that could help to explain the violent indigene/settler eruption especially in Jos-North local Government – Plateau State.

1.3 Objective of the Study

The objectives of the study are;

  1. To explain through primary data the material root causes of indigene/settler conflict in the Jos North Local Government Area, Plateau State.
  2. To examine the role of political elite in the manipulation of the concept of citizenship.
  3. To understand the factors responsible for the present occurance of the Jos-North conflict.

1.4 Research Hypotheses

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

  1. H0: there are no factors responsible for the present occurance of the Jos-North conflict.
    H1: there are factors responsible for the present occurance of the Jos-North conflict.
  2. H02: there is no role of political elite in the manipulation of the concept of citizenship
    H2: there is role of political elite in the manipulation of the concept of citizenship

1.5 Significance of the Study

While a lot of effort has gone into documenting the imprint of colonial rule on the demography and economy of Africa societies, very little has been done in the area of the inter-ethnic relations. Several scholars such as Rodney (1972), Ake (1980) and Nnoli (1980) have noted the disarticulated character of African economy as a result of manipulative colonial policies. Unfortunate, far too little effort has been seen very recently in dealing with the quite social relations of African societies in the last hundred years (Akinwunmi 2006, Odeyed, 2007). These perhaps accounts for the weaknesses of concepts vying for explanation of persistence ethnic-prone conflict in Africa. Many concepts have ignored this essential character of the social-needed to fill this critical gap. The study is encompasses more than just the characteristics of identity conflict in an area that provides a distinctive sample of a new form of conflict – the persistent problem of violent confrontation between indigenes‖ and settlers‖ in the Jos-north local government Area-Plateau state. It provides a very critical link-between the theoretical concepts and empirical problem of this form of conflict by providing primary data from the field. The work is also significant in examining the situational and mutative characters of identity conflict which has not been adequately accounted for in many areas. It therefore provides a basic step from which to explore further important aspects of the conflict such as exclusionary-basis of identity platforms. It is for example meaningful to undertake a close examination of the indigene/settler thesis in explaining ethnic identity conflict in the Jos-north local government of Plateau state.

Apart from the terrible toll in human and material resources so far, it is quite obvious that identity contestations if not sour of Nigerian nation. The logical opinion 6 is to start by a thorough study which alone can avail a proper and meaningful understanding of cause and effect in a dynamic and dangerous phenomenon that presently threatens the very existence of Nigeria (Alubo: 2006:4). The study of indigene/settler conflict in the Jos-north Local government area, provides a rare sample to achieve the objective. The threat of indigene/settler conflict is even more unsettling because it has been noted to be related to constitutional recognition of indigeneity in the Nigerian definition of citizenship (section 147:3 of the 1999 constitution (as amended) and as earlier mentioned. How then can non-inclusive membership of a country as shown in the demands of say Jasawa of Jos-North Local Government Area of Plateau state and the Tiv of Taraba and Nasarawa states guarantee Patriotic citizenry which is free and able to contribute to a fully integrated society? The very quality of Nigeria citizenship is challenged by indigene/settler confrontations and questions the character of the state that offers quite obviously unequal priviledges of such membership. For as Dunmoye (2005) observes, Nativity or indigeneity provide social and political privileges, while settler status disempowers. To date, several attempts (Nnoli; 1978, 1989, 1998; Alubo, 2006; Otite 2002) have mostly identified and described the ethnic and territorial character of this form of conflict. The study will therefore avail more understanding of this problem particularly in the Jos-North Local government Area of Plateau state with perhaps the high plurality and identity conflict in Nigeria.

1.6 Scope and Limitation of the Study

The study covered Jos-North local government area, Plateau state involving indigene and settlers. The choice of Jos-North was informed by the fact that the area witnesses many indice of indigene/settler contestation mainly due to the fact that it hosts the highest number of Hausa and Fulani community than any of the Local government in the State (Plateau). The study will also involve some of research assistance which might post challenges in the data collection phase of the work to be done. The researcher encounters some constrain 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 has 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


The concept of indigenship, particularly as it is used in Nigeria connotes the notion or perception that the indigenship of a particular society, group or region confers certain rights which others should not enjoy by virtue of being strangers‘ such right include (but not limited to) education and employment opportunities, land, political participation and even the right to produce traditional leadership of the community.


The term settler is used most frequently by a community who have established control over a particular territory, to refer to a different other community or people who have recently arrived relative to the period of the arrival of the first community (Natives‘ indigenes‘). It has an exclusionary implication in that, those termed as settlers are usually excluded from enjoying the rights and benefits of indigenity.


Conflict may mean a contradiction arising from difference in interests, ideas, ideologies, orientations, perceptions and tendencies, which exist at all levels of society. Conflict is a situation in which two or more human beings desire goals which they perceive as being obtainable by one or the other but not both.


Religious identity and ethnicity are closely associated. Simply put, religion is the relationship between man and God as concerned with the problem of human destiny, life and death. In the Nigerian context however, when religion is mentioned all minds readily go to Islam and Christianity. Islam and Christianity are considered as universal religions thus providing important defining elements of pluralism and hence more useful in the discourse on religious conflict. Incidentally, these two religion are catalysts for violence in Nigeria today. As a form of identity, religion is amenable to a wide range of discursive centres. For instance both conservative and revolutionary strands can be found within one particular religion as is well exemplified by both Islam and Christianity. Finally, by indigene/settler conflict we mean the distinction between formal national‘ citizenship and local‘ citizenship and the associated patterns of exclusion. Intrinsically linked to this is the pattern of exclusion. Those who see themselves as natives‘ or indigenes‘ exclude those considered to be strangers‘ or settlers‘ from enjoying certain rights and benefits which they are entitled to enjoy as citizens after fulfilling the civic duties such as payment of taxes.


This connotes very person born in Nigeria on or before the date of independence, either of whose parents or any of whose grandparents belongs or belonged to any community indigenous to Nigeria‖ (1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria). Citizenship also refers to rights ascribable and attributable to the individual as a member of a political community. It applies to and endows a person with full political and civic rights within the context of the modern state.

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), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlights 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

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Introduction

It is important to ascertain that the objective of this study was to ascertain the crisis of citizenship 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 the challenges of the crisis of citizenship in Nigeria

5.2 Summary

This study was on the crisis of citizenship in Nigeria. Three objectives were raised which included: To explain through primary data the material root causes of indigene/settler conflict in the Jos North Local Government Area, Plateau State, to examine the role of political elite in the manipulation of the concept of citizenship, to understand the factors responsible for the present occurance of the Jos-North conflict. In line with these objectives, two research hypotheses were formulated and two null hypotheses were posited. The total population for the study is 200 residents of Jos-North local government of Plateau state. The researcher used questionnaires as the instrument for the data collection. Descriptive Survey research design was adopted for this study. A total of 133 respondents made village heads, youths, men and women were used for the study. The data collected were presented in tables and analyzed using simple percentages and frequencies

5.3 Conclusion

The researcher investigated the crisis of citizenship with particular attention to indigene/settler conflict in Jos-north Local Government Area, Plateau State. It was very clear from the findings established that, the Jos north local government under review is cycled with crisis rooted on the basis of land owner resulted to indigene/settler dichotomy. The above notwithstanding is a passive role of the Plateau State government that allowed the elite to politicize the citizenship on the basis of indigene/settler. This actually affects the socio-economic and political development of the study area. Nevertheless, it could be noticed that ethnicity, politics, religion has been a serious problem that led to the crisis of citizenship rooted on the basis of indigene/settler. Other problems include the bad governance, inadequate security and lack of implementing the recommendations of the reports of the various Commission/Committee of Inquiry in the study area.

5.4 Recommendation

1. Religious Tolerance and Accommodation:

In order to stem indigene/settler. Conflict in Jos-North Local Government Area Plateau State, there is a need for the residents to be tolerant and accommodating of their different others. This can be made possible by consistent public awareness campaigns by political, community and religious leaders. In this regard, there is need for education of the citizenry through this awareness. Religious leaders should be wary of what they preach to their followers – in order to nurture the spirit of oneness in their faithful notwithstanding their religious differences. Political and community leaders should act in such a manner as to enhance harmony among the people by guided utterances.

2. Economic Empowerment of Citizens:

As rightly observed by the findings of this work, most of the indigene/settler conflicts in Jos-North have roots in the impoverished state of the populace. Therefore, one way to end these conflicts is to empower the people not only in the study, but nationally too. To do this job opportunities for the unemployed who usually turn into ready tools to be used during conflict situations. Government can also empower the citizens by embarking on skill-building or acquisition programmes which will enhance self-reliance. This endeavour by government should actualize and transcend the present national programme Subsidy re-investment and employment programme (Sure-P), as well as the National Poverty Eradication Programme (NAPEP) in the study area which is still limited. To further consolidate the empowerment scheme, conscious effort should be made by government to improve on available infrastructure and provide new ones in order to cope with the ever increasing challenges to government in terms of building a responsive government and provision of social services in the face of increasing population.

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