Once a peaceful region where people of different tribe and religion could live in relative harmony, Nigeria's middle belt region has become a constant in local and international news. This is particularly the case in Jos where constant and repetitive fighting between residents have resulted in thousands of deaths over the last few years with fighting as recently as January 2010. And unfortunately, more fighting erupted in Jos. But that fighting, which took place in Tagir village, was preceded by fighting in Mazzah village only a week before. And, on July 23rd, Nigerian forces diffused a bomb that had been planted in a home abandoned during the January fighting. These most recent incidents have occurred weeks before the 1 year anniversary of the Boko Haram attacks of July 26th 2009. They raise the question of what, if anything, Nigerian authorities have done to address the factors that lead to the violence and insecurity in the nation's middle belt.
In response to the continuous fighting, the governor of Plateau State, Jonah Jang, declared a 30 day period of fasting to appease the "gods" of death and destruction. He went on to plead with residents to remain forgiving and seek God's intervention. While prayer is a suitable response for those that are religiously inclined, that alone is inadequate to tackle the regular violence that plagues Jos. What, other than prayer will the governor and other state officials do to stem the violence? Additionally, what approach does the Jonathan administration have in place for preventing such occurrences?
WHY SOLUTIONS ARE NECESSARY
The answers to these questions are especially important given that the threat of violence is yet to dissipate. Apart from the fresh fighting in Jos, on July 21st, Nigerian police prevented a potential sectarian riot in Sokoto State when Sunnis and Shiite Muslims clashed. Plus, as mentioned above, the country is on the verge of the one year anniversary of the Boko Haram attack in Bauchi State which resulted in over 800 deaths across four states. Currently, Bauchi State authorities are on high alert given a video threat by Abubakar Shekau, the sect's deputy leader who was believed dead.
It goes without saying that addressing poverty by providing basic amenities and improving living conditions will go a long way towards reducing fighting. Better schools, healthcare, infrastructure and policies that will foster private sector-job creation would help to limit the dissatisfaction that leads to insecurity. Such measures would likely aid in reducing the number of Nigerians that flee the country so much so that the nation is said to have the largest number of internationally displaced persons at over one million. And, although the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs formally rejected the offer from the North African Al Qaeda group to train Muslims to kill Nigerian Christians, there is still cause for concern that distrust amongst various groups could disintegrate into religious or tribal violence.
- Fresh Killings in Jos
- Jos: The Power of Texts & Poverty
- Religious & Political Violence in Jos
- Boko Haram: Questions Remain
- Aftermath of Northern Islamist Attacks
- Militants In Northern Nigeria? (Boko Haram)
- Nigeria - List of Intolerant Nations
- How To Shoot Yourself In The Foot With Al-Qaeda