Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Settler vs indigene

At the root of the conflict in Plateau State are two core issues: poverty and an artificial distinction between "settler" and "indigene". Although a few years old now, this report by Human Rights Watch gives a good background to the issue. You can download the pdf here.

The settler/indigene dichotomy goes against the fundamental freedoms granted in sections 42 and 43 of the constitution. Both these sections are good and should remain in a reformed constitution. It is also quite arbitrary who is classified as a settler and who as a indigene. Many ethnic groups in Nigeria migrated from elsewhere (the Beroms in Plateau State are thought to have migrated centuries ago from Niger; the Efiks in Calabar were originally from Sudan etc.)

Until the government takes a hard look at the issues that block 42 and 43 from functioning ("Federal character" guidelines and the "State of origin" law), the conflicts will remain and Jos will continue to be a flashpoint. Violent conflict will probably exacerbate as desertification, water scarcity and population growth drive northern populations southwards into the Middle Belt in the next decade.

The report recommends that state laws that are biased in favour of 'indigenes' should be repealed. Four years after it was written, that's still a very good recommendation. But in a country where politicians don't need to have ideas or practical policies, who is going to stand up and push this forward?


joicee 11:07 pm  

So my forefathers probably from Sudan huh?

Settler or indigene, who cares? People will keep moving from place to place. My own question is why the bloodshed? What is going on? This is a whole new argument cos all this while I was thinking this has solely got to do religion.Just damn!

Anonymous,  3:31 pm  

folks just need to split the country up like they are going to do in Sudan. maybe my ancestors should have stayed over there.

anyway, this argument of indigene or not can be carried out among the south. the north is clearly too barbaric for this sort of thing. i guess since mutallab failed at killing 300 people on xmas day they figured they'd make up for it in the streets of nigeria by killing 300 nigerians

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