United Ijaw * Welcome to United Ijaw on the web. Our preference is national self determination, the independence of Ijawnation as a Sovereign State. A state that promotes sustainable economic and social development, democratic principles, liberty, free enterprise, equal rights and justice. This is our story, this is our struggle. **** On Kaiama Declaration We Stand **** United Nations Under Secretary-General, Dr. Antonio Maria Costa, in Abuja condemned the theft of Nigeria's assets by past corrupt leaders. He said that kleptomaniac leaders stole more than 400 billion dollars from the Nigerian treasury between 1960 and 1999. **** IJAWNATION THINK! THINK. **** Almost $170 billion of the country’s wealth disappeared and ended in the private accounts of individuals between 1999 and 2003 alone... Priye Torulagha ****Nigeria has failed Niger Delta – Nnamani **** Resource Control: Niger-Delta governors are traitors – Evah **** Only the fear of a volcanic social eruption from below can stop barbaric behaviour by holders of political power – Gani Fawehinmi ***** “ if the Confab and Nigerians are not willing to heed to Resource Control, they will take it by force” - Oronto Douglas We Dare To Be Different.
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Priye S. Torulagha  (Ph.D.)

It is interesting to hear that the Senate of the National House of Assembly formed a committee to study the causes of ethno-religous conflicts in the country. However, it is questionable whether the National Assembly truly believes in solving the multitude of conflicts facing the nation.

It is quite easy to recall that after the army attacked and burnt Odi town, high powered members of the National Assembly visited Odi to see things for themselves. During the visitation, moralistic statements were made as well as promises to get to the root of the matter. It is doubtful whether the National Assembly ever paid any attention to Odi immediately after the visit. Odi people were allowed to continue their suffering. It is also significant to recall that after the army attacked Tivland in Benue State, the National Assembly failed to do anything about the situation.

In any case, since the National Assembly is interested in knowing why ethnic conflicts continue to tear at the nation, it might help to enumerate some of the causes. In a nutshell, it can be said that ethno-religious conflcits are by-products of an unresponsive, unrepresentative, highly corrupt, authoritarian, oligarchic, abusive and ungodly governmental system that has operated in Nigeria for the last 30 years and continues to be so, despite the ongoing democratic experiment. Thus, the Senate's Ad-Hoc Committee on Ethno-religious conflicts, led by Dr. Chuba Okadigbo, appears to be a posturing tactics by the politicians. There is no doubt that millions of Naira would be spent to find the causes of ethnic and religious conflicts, especially the persistent problem of ethnic militias. Thereafter, the committee will issue its findings and make recomendations. In most likelihood, that will be the end of the matter and the conflicts will continue. The commonest fate of special commissions is that their findings are rarely taken seriously. In this case, it is very doubtful that the federal government would be seriously committed to initiating and implementing recommendations that the Ad-Hoc Committee would make. The federal government and the states have a tremendous track record of forming commissions or special committees to study difficult issues and not doing anything about them after the results of the findings have been published or announced.

To butress the argument that the Ad-Hoc Committee on Ethno-Religious conflicts is an unnecessary wasteful exercise, since the causes of the crises are very well known by almost all Nigerians, a systematic identification of the various causes would be pinpointed.

1. Nigeria's ethnic and religous groups are reasserting themselves because Nigeria is failing woefully as a multiethnic republican nation-state. The failure has to do with the following:
a) Although created by Britain through military conguest, Nigeria's ethnic and religious groups were willing to allow the experiment to succeed, so that Nigeria would become a political reality but a special vested interest prevented the realization of the Nigerian commonwealth by hijacking power and making it impossible for structural readjustment of the body politcs to take place. b) The failure to openly discuss the constitutionality of the state, in terms of majority-majority balance of power, majority-minority representation, political leadership, and economic distribution of resources etc. have led to the gradual unraveling of the patched political labrynth.

2. Nigeria's leadership has been dominated by leaders from just one region of the country - the North (Gen. Yakubu Gowon, Maj.Gen Murtala Mohammed, President Shehu Shagari, Gen. Mohamed Buhari, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, Gen. Sani Abacha, Lt. Gen. Abdulsarhm Abubakar for most of its existence. Thus, throughout Nigeria's history, only two Southerners, Maj. Gen. Aguiyi Ironsi (very briefly in 1966) and President Olusegun Obasanjo, have ruled Nigeria: first time as a military ruler after Gen. Murtala Mohamed was killed and seond time as a civilian ruler. The fact that in forty-one years of existence, only one region has repeatedly ruled the country is a major source of political disatisfaction that is fueling regional and ethnic animosity. The Yoruba-Hausa/Fulani feud is greatly fed by the Yoruba perception that the North (generally represented by the Hausa-Fulani)subjugated Yoruba political aspirations. The Oduua Peoples Congress (OPC) represents the militant face of the dissatisfaction with a political arrangement in which the Yoruba cannot rule without kowtowing to the North.

3. Nigerian population can be said to contain an equal proportion of Christians and Moslems, if the traditional religion is not taken into consideration, nevertheless, Nigeria's governmental institutions subcultures are embedded in the Judeo-Christian traditions of the West. This infuriates Nigerian Moslems who want some elements of their own subculture to be represented in the institutions of government. The failure to incorporate any semblance of Eastern politico-religious culture, particularly, Islamic traditions, has been responsible for the forceful institutionalization of the Sharia and the increasing antiChristian sentiments in the North. In other words, Nigerian Moslems feel oppressed by the Judeo-Christian/Western traditions of government and are fighting to express their religious rights. It should be recalled that the Moslems have been calling for the introduction of the Sharia legal system for quite a long time. In the 1980s, there were many religious uprisings in the Islamic North. Generally, the riots were suppressed militarily rather than politically. The failure to act politically prolonged the issue resulting in the rebellious expression of the Sharia.

Due to the fact that Nigeria's institutions are inclined toward the expression of Judeo-Christian traditions of the West, many Northern Moslems feel that even though most of the country's leaders have originated from the North, the leaders have been looked upon as puppets of Southern bureaucrats who actually manipulated the government to benefit themselves. In other words, many dissatisfied Northerners feel that even though most Nigerian leaders have been of Northern origin, the leaders tended to exercise power through the blessings of Southern bureaucrats and experts. Consequently, Norhterners feel that their leaders did not actually exercize power to favor the North as Southerners seem to think. Alhaji Mohammed Ahmed Makarfi, Kaduna State Governor, stated at the Arewa Consultative Forum recently: "No doubt, we are fair and equitable people: this is vindicated because we have ruled this country for the longest, but we are also the poorest in this country. And we know that the riches were made basically from government; if we were self-centered, we would have been the richest...people in this country."

4. Due to the internationalization of Christianity and Islam, whatever happens elsewhere will have both direct and indirect impact on Nigeria. It is not a secret that many Southern Christians are sympathetic to Israel and many Northern Moslems are sympathetic to the Palestinians and other fundamentalist Islamic movements. This produces further religious conflict. Thus, the U.S. "War Against Terrrorism" is seen in the Islamic North as a Judeo-Christian/Western imperialistic strategy to neutralize Islam and thereby increase the influence of Judeo-Christian/Western power. Some react militantly to the perceived threat of Islamic neutralization.

Nigeria can escape this phenomenon by promoting the traditional cultural and religous values, instead of shunning and shying away from traditionalization. Secularization is a figment of the imagination as both the Christians and the Moslems are increasingly adopting fundamentalist religious positions. This leads to self-righteousness and an unwillingness to compromise politically.

5. Nigerians have been frustrated by the unresponsiveness of various governments to their needs. The only regime that can be said to have represented the Nigerian people was the regime of Gen. Yakubu Gowon. Today, a Nigerian youth can only get by through connections or hustling. This is producing a cadre of undisciplined youths who have become professional hustlers. Hence, prostitution among Nigerian young females, including university students, is now common. This is leading to an increase of fatherless children and single-parents. Meanwhile, an increasing number of male university students are joining sadistic cults with a proclivity toward killing other human beings for the slightest reward.

6. It does not matter whether Nigeria is ruled by a civilian or a military government, the highhandedness of government oficials is legendary. In Nigeria, the saying that a leader is a servant of the people does not exist. Instead, government officials feel as if they have a right to do whatever they want to do. Nigeria's government officials (federal and states) treat the citizens as nincompoops that can be manipulated, cheated, lied unto and abused militarily, physically, politically, financially, and economically.

Likewise, both federal and state officials are too eager to spend money on schemes and programs that have no direct benefit to the people while they are very tightfisted in appropriating and authorizing expenditures for programs that directly benefit the citizens.

Since the current regime came into power, it could be said that more Nigerians have died under the present arragnement than under the regime of Gen. Abacha. Military and police forces have been sent to destroy entire communities, at the slightest provocation. The civilian governors and the council chairmen and women behave like lions in sheep clothing. Although these politicians attacked the military for being undemocratic, yet, they are even more eager to use excessive force than the military. Whenever the politicians are challenged, something always happens. There are so many examples, a few might do here: the bombing of the Bayelsa House of Assembly, the killings of students in Delta and Enugu states, the killing of the late Attorney General of Nigeria, the killing of the lawyer who represented the detained Odi youths etc.

7. Since the introduction of the police roadblock system, Nigerians have been at the mercy of dishonest policemen and women who have used the roadblocks as a means to enrich themselves. Who in Nigeria does not know that the roadblocks are toll booths? Those who refuse to cooperate have either been beaten, detained or falsely charged with serious crimes in an effort to induce them to cooperate and pay. Taxi and commercial bus drivers understand the game very well and do as instructed to avoid any complication to their transportation business. Nigerians are not happy but they have no where to go and complain. To complain can be very deadly.

8. The Nigerian Police Force is caught between a rock and a hard place. It has been so traumatized by both civilian and military regimes. The police force is always used by the politicians to further their political interests. During civilian regimes, the police officers are pressured to watch and apprehend opposition forces while discouraged from taking action against the ruling parties and their members. This happended in the 1960s and it is happening again. The killings at Enugu and Delta states testify to this inclination. It is rare to hear of the Inspector General of the Police or any police officer telling a political or a military leader that a certain act is illegal. As a result, many politically-motivated deaths have not been properly investigated and charges filed because the deaths were connected to some high-powered individuals in the country. On the other hand, the police does not hesitate to tell an opposition figure that a certain act would be considered illegal and the perpetrator would be apprehended. For example, in Bayelsa State, the Police has threatened to arrest anyone who demonstrates against the N15 billion loan. This failure enables embezzlers to embezzle with impunity since they know that the law enforcement agencies are powerless to enforce the law against them.

When the military came to power, the various regimes neglected the police force and thereby destroyed its ability to protect life and property and at the same time enforce the laws. As a result, the Nigerian Police Force only protects life and property in theory. In practice, Nigerians take care of themselves. To rely on the police is to wait for death. The incapability allows criminal elements to operate with impunity. It is a common saying in Nigeria that the members of the police rarely show up when a crime is being committed. Instead, they always tend to show up after the crime. This creates a cynical theory that some members of the police are partners of the criminal elements. The Anini case almost demonstrated beyond a reasonable doubt the factuality of the theory. It is therefore understandable why members of the Obiaruku Community in Delta State decided to attack the police for failure to show up when the community was invaded by armed robbers. The police was no where to be found until the armed robbers had completed their operation. The pathetic police situation even encouraged junior officers of the force to go on a one-day strike.

This being the case, it is not unreasonable for Nigerians to become vigilantees. The Oduua Peoples Congress, the Bakassi Boys and many other ethnic and youth-based anti-crime organizations are simply filling the void left by the Nigerian Police Force. Nigerians have not had a sense of secuirty for quite sometime and the need to feel secure have compelled citizens to do something when the government is unable to provide security for them. The police cannot be blamed for its predicament. It is highly understaffed and underequipped for a nation with a population of more than 100 million people.

9. Nigeria, like other African and Third World countries, does not have a functioning political system. A functional political system in this regard, refers to a system in which both the ruling party and the opposition party are allowed to play their roles democratically. In Nigeria, during both the First and Second Republics, the opposition parties were not allowed by the ruling parties to challenge them through constructive criticism of policy. As a result, the ruling parties acted like dictatorships and the opposition parties simply struggled to survive. In the present demcoratic system, the same lack of effective opposition can be seen, both at the national and state levels. The ruling parties behave as if they have mandate from heaven to do as they wish and they are highly unaccountable.

In the past, the military acted as an opposition party to the ruling civilian regimes. Although, the military can still be looked upon as the only viable opposition to the politicians, but for the time being, ethnic and youth militant groups stand as the opposition to the politicians. In Oshun, Oyo, and many states, youth groups have stormed the parliament to threaten the politicians and force them to behave appropriately. In Bayelsa, the Supreme Egbesu Assembly has repeatedly threatened to storm the House of Assembly. As can be seen, the politicians seem financially irresponsible and politically reckless, hence, ethnic and youth militant groups would not disband or disarm. Disarmament while the politicians are not accountable to the citizens would only make matters worst for the citizens. The militant groups are now playing the role of the military to keep the politicians in check. Of course, some of the youth groups have become political pawns and are now playing the role of political thugs by threatening and squashing the opposition, as had happened in Delta State recently. In Lagos, youth gangs known as "Area Boys" or the "Alayes" or the "Agberos" are literally taking over the streets. This development is directly connected to the failure of the government (federal and states) to make the country livable. The difficult economic sitaution forces people to act wildly.

10. The fact that every ethnic group has a politico-military group willing to protect the interest of the ethnic group is a testament to the failure of the Nigerian nation. These groups want to make sure that their sons and daughters do not become the sacrificial lamb of some power-hungry Nigerian leaders who are willing to assassinate in order to be in power.

Ethno-religious conflicts continue due to the fact that the current crop of leaders have been too preoccupied with enriching themselves through the public purse. Their desire to continue from where the military stop, in terms of appropriating public funds for self enrichment, prevents them from being effective rulers. As can be seen, instead of solving the peoples problems, they have contributed even more to the problems by using divisive political tactics to instigate and cause violent outbursts against their perceived enemies. Some people in Lagos believe that the Area Boys have the backings of some people with political aspirations. Likewise, there are many Nigerians who believed that the Junkun-Tiv and various Middle Belt crises have been engineered by some politically ambitious leaders who benefit from the crises.

A clear evidence of the lack of compassion and concern for Nigerians by the current political leaders is the pathetic state of the disabled former Biafran soldiers. Neither the South Eastern states nor the federal government have done anything to help these very helpless Nigerians. As a result, they have to beg for alms at the Oji River junction of the Onitsha -Enugu road. A media spokesperson for the Enugu state government stated flatly that only the federal government is responsible for taking care of the disabled veterans and not the states. Even though the federal government is the responsible party, what stops Enugu and other states from rendering assistance to these veterans? Are these veterans not citizens of various South Eastern states? The federal government failed to keep its "No vanquished no victor promise" to the veterans. Nigerian youths should learn from the Biafran veterans so that they would not allow themselves to be manipulated to take actions that might later haunt them. The Biafran disabled veterans have been abandoned by all. Please, Col/Maj. Gen. Philip Effiong, keep trying to pressure the federal government to act on behalf of these unfortunate Nigerians.

11. Due to massive embezzlement and corruption, Nigeria's standard of living has been artificially enhanced. Those who have been able to loot spend lavishly because they did not work for the money. Likewise, contractors who earned enormous sum of money through overinflated and fraudulent contracts also spend lavishly. Their lifestyles attract others to imitate them. This has led to a reckless desire for the acquisition of good things of life in the society. There is now a culture in which the pursuit of money takes precedence over any other matter. One is considered to be somebody and highly respected, if the person has an enormous amount of money, regardless of how the wealth was acquired. Those without wealth are treated with disdain. This is leading to many social ills, including the breakdown of family values, extreme jealousy, hatred, killing for money, extravagant lifestyle, and fraud.

12. Armed robbery and violent crimes have increased because the youths realized that the current crop of politicians have no interest in advancing the socioeconomic progress of the country. Most state leaders cannot explain what they have done with their state budgets. Since the leaders do not seem to be forthright in their conduct, the youth gangs too have decided to be merciless in their effort to accumulate some wealth through crime. Armed robbers operate at anytime of the day. This indicates that the robbers are not afraid of the police or any government authority. It is a question of "he who has not sin, let him cast the first stone." Consequently, the "Area Boys", the "Alayes" and the "Agberos" can be said to be exercising their rights to survive as human beings, if the leaders do not make life bearablefor all citizens of nigeria.

13. Even though the military is nolonger in power, Nigeria is highly militarized. As stated before, the police roadblocks have become part of the Nigerian system of government. Likewise, the federal government of Nigeria has become so addicted to the idea that the only way to maintain order in the country is to saturate the nation with "special forces, secret services, special security forces, directorate of intelligence, state security etc. The overrepresentation of these elements in the nation creates a politically poisonous and distrustful environment. The government seem to assume that somebody is plotting to do something and whoever is planning to do so must be stopped by force. Nigerians feel distrustful because they are not sure whether the next person is an agent of the government, snooping around for intelligence. Due to this distrustfulness, the police and the security forces do not hesitate to shoot at the slightest provocation.

The insecurity emanating from the excessive presence of the dark arms of the government makes various ethnic, political, and youth groups to be watchful and ready to fight back. This increases tension and violent confrontation. Both the federal and state governments can reduce tension by being more forthcoming in explaining their actions and willing to negotiate thorny issues rather than call upon the security forces to intervene, as had happened in Enugu State. Nigerian leaders need to communicate frequently with their citizens, and not impose solutions.

14. In the Niger Delta, the people feel as if they are not part of Nigeria but a colonized subjects of Nigeria. Their suggestions for improving things are rarely taken seriously by the federal government. On the other hand, the federal government does not hesitate to send security forces to punish the people for the slightest provocation. Likewise, the federal government of Nigeria allows the oil companies to have their own security forces and to inflict extrajudicial punishment on the people. With a solid backing from the federal government, the oil companies have no hesitation whatsoever, to send their security forces to teach the indigenes a lesson, by brutalizing them. The community of Liama in Brass local Government Authority was recently invaded. About sixty houses were burnt down and three youths killed. Alarmed by the frequency of militaristic overreaction by government and oil companies, one Akpodigha Filatei wrote:

"I had worked in other oil-producing communities(in Eket Akwa Ibom) as an employee of an oil company (Mobil)for years, but never had this recurring cases of raze and massacre of communities by security operatives hired by oil companies who are supposed to be tenants at the will of the indigent peoples of the communities they operate as we have in Bayelsa State."

The people of the Niger Delta cannot even get legal protection in Nigeria. They have to go overseas in order to sue the oil companies for violations of human rights, killings, and destruction of property and the environment. In a major legal ruling recently, a U.S federal judge, Kimba Wood, denied a motion brought by the Royal Dutch Shell Company to dismiss a case filed by relatives of the late Chief Ken Saro-Wiwa and nine other Ogoni leaders who were hanged by the federal government of Nigeria, against the oil company. Other oil companies operating in the Niger Delta of Nigeria are also being sued in the United States and other Western nations. The suits are made possible through applicable American laws such as the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victim Protection Act, (which make it possible for non-Americans to sue foreign individuals and companies in the United States courts for serious human rights violations), the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act as well as the international Rome Treaty of 1998.

15. The peoples of the Lower Niger delta region are also infuriated by Nigeria's lack of concern for their environmental and ecological worries. For instance, there is a concerted effort by the federal government to dredge the River Niger. The dredging is intended to deepen the river so that larger vessels can conveniently nagivate the river and thereby increase trade. The economic objective is very laudable. However, the ethnic groups that inhabit the lower region of the river are worried that such dredging might for ever altered their means of livelihood. Therefore, they call on the federal government to conduct an intensive environmental studies before dredging the River Niger. It appears that the federal government wants to go ahead with the project without paying much attention to the concerns of these Nigerians. This could heighten animosity between the people and the federal government.

It should be recalled that the federal government built the Kainji Dam in the 1970s without paying any attention to the environmental impact of such an intrusive project on the natural flow of the River Niger. Since that dam was put in place, marine ecology of the river has been drastically altered. For instance, before the dam, the lower region of the Niger was filled with abundant marine and wild life during the rainy season. After the dam, marine life has been drastically reduced. As a result, the Ijaws, riverine Igbos, Isokos, Urhobos etc. are now depending more on commercial fish for their livelihood.

The recent Supreme Court ruling in favor of the federal government over resource control of off-shore oil rights does not provide a middle ground solution to the boiling issue. The Niger Delta states, particularly, Akwa Ibom,are going to face sever financial shortfall. The Supreme Court decision is going to reignite youth militancy against the oil companies and oil contractors.

In Nigeria, justice is a laughable matter since the highest bidder always seems to win . It is the lack of concern that is driving so many Niger Delta youths to become militant because they are tired of being treated as third-class citizens.

16. Ethno-religious conflicts are inevitable in light of the fact that in Nigeria, rulers behave like gods. They tend to personalize the state in their image and assume that everyone must worship them. Those who refuse to worship the leaders are treated as enemies. Thus, constructive criticism is viewed upon as personal attacks and the critic is punished through direct and covert means. This mentality applies both at the federal and state levels. This behavior creates unnecessary tension and leads to politically motivated violent acts.

17. Self-perpetuation is a major cause of political distrust and conflict. Only Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo in 1979 and Gen. Abubakar in 1999 have voluntarily handed over power. It appears that President Obasanjo is violating a standard he had set up by announcing a reelection bid for 2003. While the reelection bid is very constitutional and democratic, it could upset the effort to build a viable democratic system in Nigeria.

The reason being that Nigerians have been discussing a way to rotate the presidency along presidential zones so that unnecessary power struggle could be reduced. Assuming that Obasanjo wins a second term, such a reelection would destroy the hope for a rotational system and throw the country into another round of political fist-fights among the power blocs. It should be recalled that the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) had devised a rotational system for its leadership position in the 1980s. According to that plan, Dr. Ekueme or some other leader from the south was supposed to take over the mantle of leadership from Alhaji Shehu Shagari after the expiration of his term of office. Some NPN powerwielders violated the principle and persuaded President Shagari to run for reelection. He did and won a second term and thereby threatened the coalition of both regions of the country.

President Obasanjo would have acted like former President Nelson Mandella of South Africa who served for only one term and quit the presidency so that others could get into power. President Obasanjo would have done Nigeria better by quitting and encouraging some one from the South East zone to run for the presidency. The reelection bid is a repetition of an unwanted political tradition in which former Nigerian leaders have attempted through various means to succeed themselves. It is severely going to hamper the dialogue on a rotational system. Chief Audu Ogbeh, the PDP National Chairman made an excellent commentary about the need to rotate the leadership of the country. Nigerians should listen to him, if the country is to be saved.

18. In Nigeria, patriotism is turned upside down. Many high level federal and state officials have illegal foreign accounts. This drains the economy of needed financial resources and contributes to the devaluation of the Naira. As a result, the economy is not capable of generating employment. Those who care about the country are marginalized politically, economically, and socially while the rewards of the state go to the unpatriotic elements.

Possible Solutions to the Ethno-Religious Conflicts

The aforementioned causes of conflicts in Nigeria can be easily reduced. The reason being that these conflicts are manifestations of the failure of governnace. For more than thirty years, Nigerians have not experienced a government that cares about them. Thus, by eliminating the sources of the failures, conflicts would gradually diminish.

1. Although this idea has been floated repeatedly, it must be restated here again. First, A National Conference is needed to iron out the constitutional problems.

2. Corruption must be fought uncompromisingly. In this regard, President Olusegun Obasanjo and the Nationa Assembly should be congratulated for making it possible to establish the Code of Conduct Tribunal and the Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission. However, these bodies are not legally empowered to take proactive action against alleged elements. Moreover, they are not retroactive enough to deal with the issue of misappropriaation of public funds and properties. The president must give total support to these governmental agencies so that they can perform their duties without being politically neutralized. Their powers should be extended to cover the states so that any federal or state public official that is alleged to have misappropriated or been involved in corruption can be summoned to explain to Nigerians what happened.

3. Both the federal and state governments should create programs that directly benefit the people and stop promoting senseless programs and projects that only benefit public officials and contractors.

4. Ethno-religious conflicts can be drastically reduced with the establishment of a national welfare/health care program. This would be one way to redistribute national income to the masses. A Nigerian should be able to receive certain benefits from the state when the individual is forced by circumstances to become destitute. This is needed to reduce power struggles, conflcts and immoral acts.

5. The federal government and the states must commit to cleaning up the educational system. Nigerian youths have been cheated for the last twenty years by an educational system that does not promote any acquisition of knowledge. The practice of students paying for courses, getting grades for performance without actually sitting in class, and hiring people to take examinations must be stopped. The dormitory system needs to be reintroduced so that academic discipline can be resuscitated.

6. Delay the implementation of the State Residency" policy, as it is being advanced by some Nigerians. In theory, it sounds very attractive for Nigerians to become legal residents of the states in which they reside, however, the time is not ripe for that yet. The need for delay is based upon the fact that without a properly constituted political order, state residency could be harmful to Nigerians who might presume that they are protected by the laws of the nation to become legal citizens of states in which they reside. For example, a Southern Christian living in Kano and a Northern Moslem living at Aba or Port Harcourt might assume quite rightly that he/she has been empowered by a national law to be a legal resident of the state in which he or she resides, only to find out during times of crisis that there is no such protection.

For state residency to work effectively, a National Constitutional Conference has to be set up to discuss all the political bottlenecks that are hindering national unity. After such a conference, then state residency can be instituted. For the time being, it is too risky for anyone to assume that a federal law can protect him or her when crisis errupts. It should be recalled that when the religious crisis erupted in Kaduna, it did not take long for Nigerians on both sides to realize that personal security can be endangered in an instant.

7. Nigerian politicians must stop being comedians and praise-singers and truly become statesmen and women. Currently, they are too willing to jump ship and join the side that controls the money. This behavior encourages corruption and authoritarianism. It is not surprising that the same politicians who opposed Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and later jumped ship to support his efforts to succeed himself were the same ones who opposed and later supported Gen. Sani Abacha to succeed himself. They are the same people who opposed President Obasanjo while he was running for office and are now praise-singing him for a reelection bid.

8. As Dr. Yakubu Gowon said while attending the Arewa Consultative Forum, "Nigerians must be governed on the basis of fairness, justice and the transparent rule of law." If Nigerians feel that the state does not represent them in a judicious and democratic manner, ethnic and religious conflicts will not abate. Even the future of Nigeria could be threatened.

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