Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Nigeria at Cross Roads

Nigeria finds itself at cross roads. Africa’s most populous country with over a 150 million people, divided between Africa’s largest Muslim community in the north and Christians in the south.

The division between the two communities has been the worst in the past 10 years; culminating in conflicts, damage to property and loss of life.

Jos a town smack in the middle of the north and south divide has experienced the most disruption. The cycle of violence has gone virtually unchecked by faith leaders on both sides; unable and in some cases unwilling to convince their communities to live in peace.

All faiths preach peace tolerance and charity, but when religion is used as a weapon it can have ramification that can spin well beyond the immediate confines of both communities.

Federal and Local governments have run out of ideas in addressing the route causes of this decade old disturbances. The common sledge hammer approach of sending in the Military have usually quelled the violence in the short term. But a return to the status quo is ever so likely; culminating in violence and a return to the viscous and deadly cycle between the two communities.

There is a failure by government at both federal and state level to address this issue. Grinding poverty, illiteracy, disillusioned youths combined with criminal elements have forced women and children to live under the haze of perpetual fear and intimidation.

President Yara Adua long term absence from the political seen; as he seeks medical treatment in Saudi Arabia. Have not helped in addressing long term hardened grievances between Christian south and Muslim north.

Yara Adua’s refusal to hand over formal powers to Vice president Jonathan has left a void and created a political vacuum in Africa’s most populous nation. Virtual in slow motion confusion, poor judgement and indecisive actions have split the country into two. With a direct and engaging threat to the Nigerian political system.

Nigeria is indeed a young democracy. The ruling party PDP have ruled Nigeria since it’s achieved transition from military to civilian rule. In an effort to guarantee unity the PDP party operate a strict leadership rotation cycle system between political representatives from the north and those from the south. This complex system of cycles has guaranteed harmony for many years; but it is currently being tested.

The temporary but protracted departure of the President Yara Adua has thrown the entire political cycle into dispute. This situation is far worst as Vice President Jonathan is poised to take over in President Yara Adua’s ill absence, breaking the cycle for the very first time.

Back biting, finger tossing and name calling are a few of milder forms that this dispute has commanded. Hardliners on both sides of the divide have expressed concerns and likely to spark descent due to the breaking the cycle. The ramification may not be felt straight away but are bound to create confusion.

Nigeria will limps to the finish line with the start of another new cycle next year when national elections are dues. If the PDP wins the question will be; which of the cycles does the PDP adopt. The newly adopted one brought about by the rushing in of Vice president Jonathan or the one that had stated much earlier.

It will be painful and difficult. The courts may have to have the final say in deciding who would lead the PDP. I would expect Politicians on both sides to put away their differences in the interest of Nigeria.

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