1.1 Background to the Study
Nigeria has witnessed the transition from the military regime for a quite long time to a democratic system of government since the year 1999, Nigeria failed to resolve its ethno-religious and political violence which contributed to the weakening of democratic governance and national integration. As a multi-ethnic nation, with diverse religious and cultural background the political system is expected to cope with and control both human and natural resources effectively, but in contrast this diversity becomes the source of ethno-religious and political violence. The issue of ethno-religious violence has tended to occur constantly in Nigeria since during the period of fourth republic 1999 where organized ethnically based actions with their ethnic and regional agenda escalate into series of violent conflict (Edlyne 2002). Studying ethnicity as a political characteristic one has to consider the following questions: Does the concept of ethnicity be regarded as a means for the political actors to depend their political interest? Why then any political struggle in Nigeria is often misinterpreted as an ethnic or religious struggle? Is there any empirical findings outline a relationship between the social construction of ethnic identities and the probability of ethnic violence?
Research attention has been shifted now from technological and scientific development to centre on the politics of religion and the democratization of Nigeria and religion in politics in Nigeria‟s new democracy. This tacit reality has been discovered that not enough justice has been done to this phenomenon in recent times, most especially on its significance to the multiple conflicts and violence that has engulfed the entity called Nigeria. This illusion caused Sulaiman (2009), to observe however that there have been competing interests amongst the various religions and ethic nationalities as to who should run the government of the country, this is premised on the fact that most ethnic nationalities have developed along religious conglomeration between Christians or Muslims?
It is as a result of these conflicts of interests amongst the adherents of the various religious and ethnic nationalities and their political leaders that have generated these spates of violence in the,..
1.2 Statement of Research Problem
Nigeria‟s struggle for democracy and good governance has so far been pursued within the federalist logic, though under a perverse practices condition of the successive military regimes with no exception to the ethno-religious and political crises. Most notable of such perversions relates to the recent Boko Haram and the recurring bomb attacks in Nigeria. Scholars and political commentators have argued that it is an attempt to impose religious ideology through terrorism (Bagaji, et al, 2012). Religion has manifested itself as a potent force in the political development of the Nigerian state from time immemorial. More so, it is very difficult to separate the state from religion-voting behavior and many times ascension to political offices is circulated on the basis of religious affiliation (Kukah, 1994; Danjibo, 2009; Omotola, 2010). In a religious country like Nigeria, it is expected to be at peace with itself and all those living within its sovereign territory. Paradoxically, recent studies have revealed that the role of religion and ethnicity in Nigeria is in negative light than its positive contribution.
Nigeria remains underdeveloped and always ranked low in indexes such as health care, poverty reduction, capacity building, educational standard, unemployment reduction, water supply and sanitation. The reason behind this is as a result of the various ethnic and religious politics played and social conflicts caused by our leaders, religious fanatics, greedy politicians and self-centered individuals (Coleman, 1995). As religious as Nigeria is, the country‟s major „national issue‟ remains largely an unresolved political, economic and social crisis. The steady growth and consolidation of communal allegiances and ethno-religious identities among various ethnic and religious groups in pursuit of competing material and value preferences, and their negative aftermath effect have characterized most of Nigeria‟s political, economic and social underdevelopment, particularly since the 1950s ( Usen, 2010). Across the length and breadth of Nigeria, ethnic and religious considerations in political, economic, social and academic matters can hardly be avoided. Politics is ethnic oriented; ethnicism is more often than not the consciousness of Presidents, Heads of states, Ministers, and those on National assignments. This has been one of the most important causes of social conflicts in Nigeria, especially in a situation where this consideration do not favour the minority group and some elites in the majority group. This social conflict in the form of violence resulting from destruction of lives and properties has been perceived in general as a major obstacle to the overall political, social and economic development of the country.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to evaluate the impacts of Ethnicity and Religion on the political processes in Nigeria. The specific objectives are;
To examine the relevance of religious groups on the political processes in Nigeria.
To evaluate if ethnicity and religion are distracting factors to the political processes in Nigeria.
To determine if ethnicity and religion are the basic causes of political conflicts in Nigeria.