UNDERSTANDING THE INDIGENE-SETTLER CONFLICT IN PLATEAU STATE: TOWARDS THE INTEGRATION OF PRIMORDIAL AND INSTRUMENTAL THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKS IN NIGERIA

Samantha Vou Pam Dusu, Samuel Oni

Abstract


Nigeria is a heterogeneously constituted society where recurring clashes and bloodletting have become regular features of the relationships between many of the ethnic groups in the country, such as between the Berom people of Plateau State and the Hausa-Fulani. These conflicts have been highly associated with the issue of indigene versus settler status whereby indigene status provide “indigenes” the identity, recognition, affinity, and meaning for individual members of the group acting individually or collectively to defend group interests while non-indigenes, on the other hand, wage war against host communities to defend theirs. The perennial problems associated with the inter-communal and ethno-religious rivalries seem to defy known conflict resolution strategies such that the insurgence seem to have gradually overwhelmed governments’ capacities and apparatus as the crises are being managed rather than resolved, and these conflicts may be growing deadlier and more numerous with time. However, there seems to be a lack of robust and comprehensive theoretical frameworks in understanding the underlying interactions and factors that sustain the incessant conflicts as well as defying the efforts to enshrine perpetual peace. This paper attempted to describe the indigene-settler conflict in Plateau State, Nigeria with the aim of integrating the primordial and instrumental theoretical frameworks as were applied in describing the Rwandan and Burundian carnages of the 1990s. Secondary data from literature were used to make inferences and deductions that provide a broad understanding of the problem from a grounded theoretical point of view which informed recommendations for dealing with the challenges posed by the indigene-settlerconflicts in the area of study. The results of the discussion show that the incessant ethnic conflicts in Plateau State arise partly from the primordial notion that ethnic identities and group cohesion are at the root of the crises while the instrumentalist idea is that the ethnic conflicts are as a result of the manipulation and politicizing of ethnic grievances and frustrations by certain key actors.  However, it was concluded that although differing theoretical frameworks each have their strengths;they are not mutually exclusive. Therefore, it was suggested that there should be conscious efforts in the development and integration of comprehensive theoretical frameworks applied to understanding the conflicts aimed at fostering scholarship and policy that allow for making effective and holistic interventions for perpetual peacebuilding.


Keywords


indigene-settler, ethnic conflict, theoretical framework, Plateau State, Nigeria

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