Nigeria: Analysis: Behind Nigeria's violence

In the first four years following Nigeria's return to democratic rule in 1999, at least 10,000 people were killed in communal violence across the country, but in recent months, these clashes have been notably less frequent.
WLUML comments that any inside Nigeria feel that the country’s transition in the late 1990s from military rule to a supposedly democratic government was poorly planned, inevitably leading to repeated outbreaks of violence.
The Red Cross has reported that since ex-military man, President Obasanjo came to power in May 1999, about 11,000 people have died, in avoidable circumstances. Under pressure from the US government, Nigeria was pushed towards a rapid and superficial democratic process which failed to address the need for the demilitarization of the populace; almost 30 years of military rule had made violence an acceptable form of expressing dissatisfaction. While both local and international observers claimed massive rigging had taken place, Obasanjo was finally accepted as President elect by Nigeria’s various regional blocks: the North because under military rule he had worked well with the region; the politically vocal South-West because he was a Yoruba; and the East because at least he was from the South and there was the hope that next time it could be the East’s turn. But progressives were uncomfortable because he was an ex-military man and was backed by the US government.

Nigeria’s supposed democracy has failed to address people’s basic problems: poverty, joblessness, delays in government salaries and a constant increase in the price of petroleum have become the order of the day. Increasing feelings of hopelessness fuel one crisis after another. After each outbreak, investigation panels have been set up, producing good suggestions as to “how to stop the circle of violence”. The reports produced by each of these extremely expensive and extensive processes have been accepted with pomp and ceremony, but promptly kept on the shelf so as “not to rock the boat”. Some of those suspected of responsibility for the violence have even been appointed to senior office. Those who had lost their loved ones, their livelihoods or property have remained dissatisfied, and the circle has continued.

Obsanjo has once again violated the constitution of Nigeria with impunity by declaring a state of emergency in the Plateau State. Hoping to deter others, this will be a short-term solution. The government has once again terrorized the people and peace is supposedly being achieved by force. However, without a proper and just solution, the circle of violence is likely to continue.


The BBC echoes this analysis at