[Blogging may be light or laconic this week, as I am traveling – Alex]
ICG released a report on Northern Nigeria yesterday. From the executive summary:
Violent conflict, whether riots or fighting between insurrectional groups and the police, tends to occur at specific flashpoints. Examples are the cities of Kaduna and Zaria, whose populations are religiously and ethnically very mixed, and the very poor states of the far north east, where anti-establishment groups have emerged. Many factors fuelling these conflicts are common across Nigeria: in particular, the political manipulation of religion and ethnicity and disputes between supposed local groups and “settlers” over distribution of public resources. The failure of the state to assure public order, to contribute to dispute settlement and to implement post-conflict peacebuilding measures is also a factor. Economic decline and absence of employment opportunities, especially as inequality grows, likewise drives conflict. As elsewhere in Nigeria, the north suffers from a potent mix of economic malaise and contentious, community-based distribution of public resources.
But there is also a specifically northern element. A thread of rejectionist thinking runs through northern Nigerian history, according to which collaboration with secular authorities is illegitimate. While calls for an “Islamic state” in Nigeria should not be taken too seriously, despite media hyperbole, they do demonstrate that many in the far north express political and social dissatisfaction through greater adherence to Islam and increasingly look to the religious canon for solutions to multiple problems in their lives.
I hope to read the full report some time this week. If you read it, stop back and let us know your thoughts.