Ethnic-Religious Intolerance – A Brewing pandemic in Nigeria by Dr. Temitope A. Akinsemoyin


To survive in peace and harmony, united and strong, we must have one people, one nation, one flag. – Pauline Hanson.

The Quest for Superiority, Dominance and territorial markings brought About Vices such as religion that as been used as a tool to suppress and control the mindset of people.
The last elections in Motherland Nigeria Is a classic Example of this ill.
Religion in my context here is a set of Man made Dogmas,passed down from generation to generation, (just like expendable traditions)continuously backed by greed,tribalism and ethnicity which poses a threat to democracy.

Nigeria is Mulitifacted with problems one of which is due to its multiethnic diversity.

In recent times,in this Diverse Multiethnic Society,Religion is first questioned before skill,talent or humanity – it is mainly used as a yardstick to measure the value of a person rather than the capacity and ability of an individual. Ethnic-religious intolerance in Nigeria has been a growing concern, which I now referred to as a “brewing pandemic” due to its widespread and deeply rooted nature. This issue revolves around the tension and conflict between different ethnic and religious groups within the country. Nigeria is a diverse nation with over 250 ethnic groups and an roughly equal division between Christians and Muslims.

The historical context of colonialism and subsequent political struggles has contributed to the emergence of ethnic and religious divisions. The struggle for power and resources often exacerbates these tensions. Competition for political positions, access to economic opportunities, and distribution of resources can ignite conflicts along ethnic and religious lines.

The consequences of ethnic-religious intolerance are far-reaching. They include violence, discrimination, displacement of communities, and hindered social and economic development. Incidents of inter-communal violence and attacks on places of worship have caused loss of lives and destruction of property, creating a cycle of distrust and animosity.

Efforts to address this issue require a multi-faceted approach. Promoting interfaith dialogue, cultural exchange, and educational initiatives that emphasize tolerance and understanding can help foster better relations between different religious groups. Government policies aimed at equitable resource distribution and representation in governance can address some of the underlying causes of conflict.

In conclusion, ethnic-religious intolerance in Nigeria is a complex and deeply ingrained challenge. Addressing this issue requires a holistic approach that involves social, political, and economic interventions to promote harmony and unity among the diverse ethnic and religious communities in the country.

Addressing ethnic-religious intolerance in Nigeria requires a comprehensive and sustained effort. Here are some potential solutions:

1. Education and Awareness: Implement educational programs that promote tolerance, diversity, and understanding from an early age. Curricula should incorporate teachings on the importance of coexistence and respect for different cultures and religions.

2. Interfaith Dialogue: Organize regular interfaith dialogues and platforms where religious leaders and followers can come together to discuss shared values, similarities, and areas of cooperation.

3. Media and Communication: Encourage responsible media reporting that avoids sensationalizing religious or ethnic differences. Promote media campaigns that highlight stories of unity and cooperation among diverse groups.

4. Legal Reforms: Strengthen anti-discrimination laws and ensure their enforcement to hold accountable those who perpetrate hate speech, incitement to violence, or discrimination based on ethnicity or religion.

5. Economic Development: Implement policies that promote equitable distribution of resources, employment opportunities, and social services across all ethnic and religious groups to reduce competition and tensions.

6. Political Inclusion: Encourage inclusive political representation that reflects the diverse ethnic and religious makeup of the country, ensuring that minority groups have a voice in decision-making processes.

7. Community Engagement: Support community-led initiatives that promote social cohesion, integration, and cooperation among different ethnic and religious communities.

8. Conflict Resolution Mechanisms: Establish effective conflict resolution mechanisms at local and national levels to mediate disputes and prevent escalation.

9. Cultural Exchange: Promote cultural exchange programs that allow people from different backgrounds to interact and learn about each other’s traditions, fostering mutual understanding.

10. Leadership and Role Models: Encourage leaders and influencers from diverse backgrounds to actively promote tolerance and denounce hate speech or divisive rhetoric.

11. International Support: Collaborate with international organizations and neighboring countries to share experiences and best practices in addressing similar challenges.

12. Long-Term Commitment: Recognize that changing deeply ingrained attitudes and behaviors takes time. The commitment to fostering tolerance and unity should be a long-term endeavor.

It’s important to note that these solutions should be implemented to the specific context of Nigeria and implemented in a coordinated manner to effectively address the complex issue of ethnic-religious intolerance.

I will leave you with these quotes –

“Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking,
so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system.
We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own – indeed to embrace the whole of creation in all its diversity, beauty and wonder.
Recognizing that sustainable development, democracy and peace are indivisible is an idea whose time has come ” – Wangari Maathai

“We all should know that diversity makes for a rich tapestry, and we must understand that all the threads of the tapestry are equal in value no matter what their color.”
— Maya Angelou

“To poison a nation, poison its stories. A demoralised nation tells demoralised stories to itself. Beware of the storytellers who are not fully conscious of the importance of their gifts, and who are irresponsible in the application of their art.”
– Ben Okri

Written By Amb. Dr. Temitope Adeola Akinsemoyin, FWIP
(A Writer,Administrator,Keynote speaker and Ambassador for World peace at World Institue for Peace)Inline image.


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