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Causes, effects and how to prevent inter-tribal conflicts in Nigeria

Causes, effects and how to prevent inter-tribal conflicts in Nigeria

What is inter-tribal conflict?

Wikipedia describes inter-tribal conflict as a dispute between two or more ethnic groups. Even though the cause of the dispute may be political, social, economic, or religious, the parties involved must explicitly fight for the status of their ethnic group in society. This standard distinguishes ethnic conflict from other types of conflict.

Inter-tribal conflict in Nigeria 

Inter-tribal conflict in Nigeria 

Nigeria is home to over 400 different ethnic groups, which ought to enhance its unique culture, but the opposite seems to be true. These groups are divided along tribal, linguistic, and religious grounds. These distinctions have always existed, but they were further dissolved into a multi-ethnic nation with independence. 

As a result of the differences, the country has struggled with the issues of ethnicity on one hand and ethnoreligious conflicts on the other, as has been often seen when religious intolerance and ethnic intolerance result in ethnoreligious conflicts.

Many groups, including the O’odua Peoples Congress (OPC), Bakassi Boys, Egbesu Boys, Ijaw Youth Congress (IYC), Igbo People Congress (IPC), Arewa Peoples Congress (APC), and Movement for the Actualization of the Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB), were created as a result of these inter-tribal conflicts, according to historians. 

Since gaining its independence, Nigeria has seen a wave of inter-ethnic and inter-religious violence that has claimed lives and caused immeasurable property damage. The political and economic development of the country is undoubtedly impacted by the violent nature of ethnoreligious disputes, which frequently manifest in Nigeria as riots, sabotage, assassinations, armed battles, guerilla warfare, and secession.

Inter-tribal conflict has slowly crept into every facet of the country, from economy to religion to politics to minute things like inter-tribal marriage. It has become so bad people don’t trust anyone outside their tribes. 

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Causes of inter-tribal conflicts 

Religious intolerance

Tribal conflict in Nigeria has various causes, they include amalgamation, religious disagreements, inequality, a lack of open government, protracted military interventions in politics, and a lack of the Nigerian dream, to name a few.

Some of them are:


Nigeria continues to suffer from the mistake of combining the northern and southern protectorates, consisting of several ethnic groups with diverse languages and traditions. History demonstrates that the creation of contemporary Nigeria resulted from the union of the southern and northern protectorates, two British colonial entities, in 1914. 

Despite being hostile neighbours, the colonists did it for administrative reasons. While most people in the south are Christians and adhere to traditional religions, the north practices Islam. 

Since colonial times, these theological divisions have been a source of political tension and mistrust between the two regions. Additionally, ethnic and religious minorities in both regions have grievances against three significant ethnic groupings they view as oppressors.

Nigeria has more than 200 different ethnic groups, and as a result, the country is divided along tribal lines. Nigeria is deprived of true national loyalty and unity due to suspicion, hostility, a lack of trust, and prejudice that affect relationships between members of the many ethnic groups in the nation.


One of the reasons for ethnic violence in Nigeria is tribalism. Loyalty to ethnic groupings prevents the country from becoming united. 

Leaders have used ethnic prejudice to win elections and polarize the nation since the colonial era. Most confrontations are sparked by long-standing ethnic sentiments exacerbated by narcissistic political goals. 

For instance, tribal considerations rather than competence are the primary drivers of hiring into public office, ministries, departments, and directorates of the federal government. When you voice concerns, an ethnic conflict develops. 

Tribalism shatters the nation’s sense of true brotherhood and maintains division, which leads to interethnic strife and stymies efforts to boost the economy.

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Marginalization of some ethnic groups in the country

One of the reasons for ethnic violence in Nigeria is the marginalization of several ethnic groups that make up the nation. 

Recently, individuals and groups fighting for secession have developed, such as the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Many Nigerians view the state of Biafra as a concept that will never materialize, but this group is fighting for it. 

The marginalization of the country’s eastern region in the Nigerian project, which contributed to the civil war from 1967–1970, has not yet received complete restitution and the attention of succeeding governments.

Religious intolerance

One of the major factors contributing to ethnic violence in Nigeria is religious prejudice between Christians and Muslims. History demonstrates that religious prejudice was the root cause of the Kano Riot on May 1, 1953, which sparked a wave of violent attacks against non-Muslims nationwide. 

Christian ethnic groups in southern Nigeria are afraid of the North’s political influence because they believe it could be used to convert the nation to Islam. Due to open religious conflicts brought on by each religion blatantly targeting the other, there have been retaliatory deaths. 

In addition, the Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram emerged due to theological conflicts, decrying western education and culture and killing and maiming both Christians and Muslims.

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How to prevent inter-tribal conflicts

Inter-tribal marriages

It is essential to bring people together in as many facets of life as is practical to solve Nigeria’s ethnic problems and achieve the primary objective of national unity. Here, we’ll outline four solutions to Nigeria’s ethnicity issues that can bring the country together on a political and social level.

Here are some ways to prevent inter-tribal conflicts.

Economic cooperation 

It is essential to give residents access to a universal system of products and to integrate regions that depend on natural resources. For instance, the Sokoto people provide the country with sugar cane while the Edo supply it with cocoa. The other economic sectors can introduce a similar interplay.

Political and state cooperation 

It is important to consider the formation of common political parties and the development of rail and road connections between the territories of various ethnic groups. In addition, the government must begin considering ways to settle ethnic disputes and show an interest in addressing the existing ethnic issues. To serve the interests of all Nigerians, the parliament must include lawmakers from all (and even small) cultures.

Introduction of festivals and national holidays 

Planning national holidays, festivals, and celebrations, as well as the practice of religion, will help find a peaceful resolution to ethnic disputes. Although it is difficult to alter or adapt ethnic customs, it is essential to try to identify commonalities among different cultures and reassure people that they must make concessions and accept changes to preserve Nigeria’s unity.

Inter-tribal marriages

Governmental support for intercultural marriage will undoubtedly address ethnicity-related issues. To honour those who work to forge a united Nigeria, intercultural tribes can receive financial support and official congratulations.

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Esther is versatile writer who thrives in writing top-notch long-form articles. She enjoys research and has an eye for details. She's currently a writer at BlackDot Media.
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