Ethnic Conflict between the Muslims and Christians in Nigeria: The Dilemma of Decision-Making of the Political Elites

Ray Ikechukwu Jacob


This paper examines how ethnic conflict occurred as a result of actions or decisions made by either local  government, state or federal government in Nigeria. Ethnic conflict can be triggered due to various factors, such geographical proximity, group identity, deliberate manipulation of negative perceptions by political leaders, competition of resources, weakness of political institution transitions to democracy, and etc. However, the main focus of this paper is the implementation of Shari’a law in the Northern Nigeria and how the decisions and the implementations have led to blood-shed conflicts in the country. In general, a number of blood-shed events that occurred in Nigeria are also due to the process of decision-making by the political elites that could not fulfil the requirements of the respective ethnic groups. The implications had been overwhelmingly devastating in the country. Uncountable lives were lost via mayhem and blood-shed wars. Homes, shops and properties were destroyed. The economic implications of ethnic conflict have resulted in unequal distribution of resources among individual, groups and regions within the country. The growing economic disparities may increase the fear of those ethnic groups that are disadvantaged; this has warranted that the ignorant masses are often being remote and mobilized by the political class to engage in religious crisis in order to achieve their selfish political interests. In the same vein, similar ethnic based political movements have arisen in Nigeria. Therefore, decision-making is one source that could lead to ethnic conflict in a multi-cultural and ethnic country like Nigeria. Decision-making approach was used to examine the scene of conflict by focusing only on the religious conflict between Muslims and Christians in the country.


Decision-Making; Ethnic Conflict; Religious Conflict; Government; Shari’a law

Full Text:



Bachrach, P., & Baratz, M. (1981). The Two Faces Of Power, in Castles FG, Murray DJ & Potter DC (eds). Decisions, Organizations And Society. Penguin: Harmond-sworth, pp 50-56

Dahl, R., A. (1963). Who Governs: Democracy And Power In An American City. Yale University Press: New Haven

David, F., R. & Frank L., W. (1976). The Comparative Study of Politics, Mifflin Company. Boston

Conn, P., H. (1971). Conflict And Decision Making: An Introduction To Political Science. New York: Harper & Row, Publishers

Coleman, J. (1958). Nigeria: Background To Nationalism. California: University of California Press

Berkeley & Nordlinger, E., A. (1972). Conflict Regulation In Divided Societies, US Center For International Affairs. Harvard: Harvard University

Handelman, H. (2000). The Challenge Third World Development. New Jersey: Prentice Hall. Heywood, A. (1994). Political Ideas And Concepts: An Introduction. London: The Macmillan Press Ltd.

Payne, R., J. & Jamal, R. Nassar (2008), Politics And Culture In The Developing World, Pearson Longman, New York

IRIN, June 6, 2005

IRIN, June 21, 2005

The Post Express, 5 February. 2002



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2015 International Journal of Multicultural and Multireligious Understanding

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

International Journal of Multicultural and Multireligious Understanding (IJMMU) ISSN 2364-5369
Copyright © 2014-2018 IJMMU. All rights reserved.