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.
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
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The report recommends that state laws that are biased in favour of 'indigenes' should be repealed.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?