Call for Peace in Nigeria

March 16, 2010

By Padmini Arhant

The senseless cycle of violence in Jos city, the capital of the Plateau State in the Nigerian “middle belt” reported to have claimed more than a thousand lives since 2001.

Plateau state is the home for the Christians in the south, the Muslims in the north and the many indigenous groups. It’s nature’s gift to the population.

Jos city is located between the beautiful rain forests in the south and the savannah in the north with a fertile land and economic opportunities that once prevailed in the area.

Sadly, the perpetual deadly attacks between the Muslims and the Christian population have turned the city and the nearby villages into a morgue.

According to the reports, last Sunday in the Christian village of Dogo Nahawa, 200 people were violently killed and previously in January 300 Muslims had died similarly.

Violence in the past ten years among the city residents has produced enormous hatred and mistrust to the point of irreconcilable differences.

After reviewing the situation, it appears that clashes are not exclusively religious related. It’s largely due to the political and socio-economic disparity in the region.

Currently, the state governed by the Christian majority is perceived to have neglected the Muslim population’s economic needs and the existing social inequality.

Therefore, the fight between these groups to control the capital, Jos city and the economy is the tipping point in the decade old violence.

Religious and political leaders fear that the situation could evolve into a “full blown” civil war, in the absence of peaceful intervention.

Regardless of religious and economic background, the population in conflict should pause and reflect on the reality.

The fighting factions must realize that the Muslims, Christians and the indigenous groups are all victims in the self-inflicted violence and they are human beings first, prior to any other identification.

All religions teach human beings to treat one another, as they would like to be treated – with love, respect and dignity.

The religious denominations are not meant to be a barrier. Instead, they are expected to serve as the binding force in the communities to work and live together.

Being caring, compassionate and understanding are the innate human qualities. It’s found among the animal species as well.

Recognizing these natural characteristics and practicing them in daily life is known to promote peace and harmony within and around.

Hostility could be transformed into hospitality and that comes from empathy.

Honoring the basic rights and requirements of all human beings should be instinctive and not subject to prerogative.

In this particular tragedy, the origin of the problem lies with the disproportionate political representation in the state government.

It is not uncommon for the political majority to be biased towards the segment with which they share a common faith or ethnicity.

Unfortunately, it’s the root cause of social unrest and political turmoil in every secular society throughout history.

Sharing the political power to represent the diverse groups in a society would alleviate the economic plight of the entire population rather than the targeted demography.

Muslims, Christians and the indigenous population in Jos city, are equally entitled to the resources and could vastly benefit by consolidating their unique talent that each one of them possess as human beings, to improve the economic and social standards.

Society’s progress is reflected when the differences are genuinely accepted and commonalities appreciated.

Violence begets violence and the bloodshed will persist if neither is willing to disavow the anger and hatred towards one another.

Negative emotions hurt the one’s harboring more than the one’s it’s aimed at.

Muslims and Christians fighting against each other could begin the healing process with forgiveness by forgetting the events leading to the endless grief.

Viewing from other’s perspective often paves the way for better relationships.

Further, it’s in the best interest of the society to focus on rebuilding the community through positive contributions.

Acknowledging the fact that injustice against one eventually affects all would set the cornerstone for reconciliation.

I urge the Muslims, the Christians and the indigenous to come together and live up to the expectations of their respective religious values and the general human conduct.

Humanity thrives by learning from the erroneous present and the past.

I wish the people of Jos city in the Plateau state and the rest of Nigeria eternal peace, progress and prosperity.

Thank you.

Padmini Arhant


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