According to the great Greek Philosopher Aristotle “Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god.’ This foregoing explains the life of man in the constant changing network of social life called society. Across historical milieu, and in a wide spectrum of societies, the relationship of human society has been a web of social relationships. Man must interact with others through historical and institutionalized means. He must develop a sense of community and purpose which binds people of similar and diverse roots, interests to a common goal.
As Societies becomes more developed, however, these relationships often undergo changes and complexities, and conflict inadvertently, ensues. In other words, as societies grow bigger, individuals and groups, gradually extricate themselves from the strings of communism and pursue their own, needs, aspirations, goals, opinions, views, and values which could be social, economic, religious, psychological or even political in nature, and struggle is bound to occur.
This idea was voiced by Marx & Engels (1968) when they argued that the ‘history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggle and conflict of values which are expressed in various inter and intra religious, ethnic, regional or class conflicts and contradictions that ultimately ground the wheels of economic development.
Across the globe today, the spate of conflicts within and between groups has attracted tremendous interest and attention. This ideology, to a greater part, is driven by perceived neglect and or failure to transform the aspirations of its people for meaningful, purposeful and qualitative life leading to a process whereby group loyalty, competes with state loyalty on one hand, and on the other hand, albeit the extreme one, crime, violence, anarchy, and lawlessness challenge the state’s continued cohesion, stability, and territorial integrity.
In the Sub-Saharan African region where Nigeria belongs, this dilemma is even more acute and pronounced. Faced with an ever-increasing population and a corresponding decrease in economic productivity and political accountability, these countries have turned into veritable incubation centers for the emergence of violent anti-state groups who feel frustrated, alienated, and ultimately discontented which sparks violence and restiveness owing to the development of ideology which is in antagonism against their states.
Nigeria, a polyglot country, is not an exception to the despicable phenomenon as it exhibits almost unparallel diversities in culture and social organizations. While some diverse countries in the world have taken advantage of their diversity, in Nigeria it has remained an insurmountable difficulty. The Nation’s diversity continues to threaten the unity as intra and inter-ethnic/group conflict remains rife. The regular and increasing rate of inter-group conflict in Nigeria is alarming.
These have led to the destruction of lives, property and basic infrastructural facilities, thereby worsening condition of the inhabitants. The viciousness and latitude with which the goons operate without regard for the law and the sanctity of life is horrendous and the motivation for these attacks and killings cum criminalities is very pregnant and portends great danger to us as a Nation.
More distasteful are circumstances where children have been rendered orphans and poor women are widowed. The cumulative effect is heightened in increased food insecurity, school dropouts, early girl child pregnancies or marriage, diseases, and socio-psychological trauma.
Furthermore, even though these conflicts prima facie, do not reveal the socio-economic dimension given its ethnic decoy, a critical look at the situation illuminates a variety of economic underpinnings as it discourages both local and foreign investments. Since the risk of doing business increases when there is insecurity in the polity, Investors who are to facilitate industrial growth and employment generation, try as much as possible to avoid such an unfavourable business environment. Added to this is the fact that combating this scourge necessarily involves a significant drain on material and human resources that could have been channeled into other developmental activities.
Analysts have forecast that Nigeria will experience a youth bulge. An increase in the population of the youth relative to other age groups would stimulate economic growth and development as it has the potential to propel economic growth and human development, inability to manage these situations could result in doom for our dear Nation. Just like the saying goes, “a poor and hungry man is like a bomb waiting to be detonated”. The increasing marginalization, pervasive poverty, perceived insensitivity on the part of the people and perceived failure of the state to ameliorate the sufferings of the people are pushing the citizenry to the edge.
To bring this ugly trend to a halt, there is still the need to improve the educational statuses of the Nigerian citizenry. This is based on the presupposition that educated citizens will be well informed and socially responsible citizens. Again, the security agencies and communities should be trained and given the right orientation to respond promptly and appropriately to early warning/sign of tension geared towards curtailing the eruption of conflict.
Since poverty has been identified as the predisposing cause of conflict, urgent steps must be taken to reduce it among the populace. It is imperative on the government to improve the standard of living of the citizens by revamping the economy and creating more job opportunities. Furthermore, efforts should not be spared in the diversification of the economy, with massive and robust investments in such sectors like agriculture, tourism, sports and industry. This will create employment opportunities and reduce economic inequality as well as inequality in access to public services. The importance of adequate infrastructural provision in terms of access roads, adequate housing, health and educational facilities, portable water, improved sanitation, communication, security cannot be over-emphasized. In this direction, government should address the issues of poverty, social inequality, injustice, oppression lopsided development among social, ethnic and religious groups to avoid situations that create conflicts that precipitate the acquisition, accumulation and use of illegal small arms. These conditions will enhance better resource management, improve social, economic and political conditions, and thereby reduce not only pressure towards crime, but also incidence and prevalence of conflicts.
Additionally, crime perpetrators must be apprehended and punished in line with the existing legislation, and Victims, rehabilitated. All these when implemented can effectively eradicate the prevalent practice of youth restiveness.
While there are various philosophies and suppositions on how we got here as a Nation and who is to blame, one thing that most Nigerians can all agree on in this onerous task of overcoming our skirmishes is that we cannot continue to fester in the culture of wanton killings and destruction, religious and ethnic bigotry, failed systems, poor leadership, and missed opportunities.
More than ever, we must unite as a people to change this narrative.
God Bless Nigeria!!!
Sodiq Adepoju, Research Executive, Deep Dive Research.